Maurice: Both. I full-time write AND have two other full-time jobs. I have a B.S. in Biology.
How do you best meet the challenge of juggling your day job (if applicable) and/or your family, against your writing career?
|Maurice: Well, to be fair, this is a process that has taken a lot of time to evolve. A learn as we went thing, since at one point the imbalance almost cost me family. Don’t get me wrong, my wife knew that I was a writer from the beginning (this was pretty clear while we were dating when I’d put off or cancel dates because I was on (self-imposed at the time) deadline). Also complicating matters was that I have bipolar disorder with hypomania, which went undiagnosed for the first decade of our marriage. It’s the hypomania that was the big problem as I would pile up huge amounts of work and then spend my life moving at a thousand miles an hour wrapping up everything to hit my deadlines. And I always hit my deadlines. In the beginning, I’d try to bring my wife (who isn’t a reader) into the process by reading my work out loud to her (she enjoyed being read to). However, this proved a short lived experiment as I tended to draw a lot from real life to a point where it made her uncomfortable. Ironically, she recently went through a writing workshop with me and wrote a poignant piece that drew incredibly on her real life, so she gets that piece of it now. Also, we had kids pretty early into our marriage. I believed two things: I wasn’t going to get as much work as I would have liked done and kids wouldn’t understand the closed door of “daddy’s working”. The reality was that I produced more words than I ever had before, just in shorter chunks as I was blogging up to six times a day (thousand plus word pieces typically). And the kids amused each other all I had to do was be in the room. If my wife was home and I was sequestered away writing, I had an open-door policy where anyone could interrupt to chat with me. These strategies were okay, but far from perfect. There came a tipping point where I had to either change how I did things or lose everything. So I reprioritized my life around my family rather than the writing. Ironically, I ended up producing more this way. My family got the “best” slice of my time rather than my leftovers. My writing schedule was shaped around them and their hours. So I wrote either before they got up or after they went to bed or while I was at work (more on this later). On weekends, my wife would take the boys on “adventures” so that I could have Saturday afternoons to write. [Also, real money started coming in for my efforts. This alleviated much of the tension.] This strategy I call “Bring Them on Board.” Meaning, there was a family meeting where I wanted their input on how best to carve out my time with them to accommodate my writing. They came up with that schedule. This strategy has continued to evolve and broaden. My wife in a lot of ways has become my business manager. She tracks the money (who owes me what and how much) and I run potential jobs/events by her so she can ask the question “is what [I am] being paid worth the time spent away from family?” We use Google calendar as a diagnostic tool to measure the state of my hypomania (all my deadlines and meetings are calandered and color coordinated so when my schedule vomits the rainbow, we can see that I’m ramping up). She also helps me throw my writing convention, Mo*Con. As far as a day job goes, when I have one (and I currently do as a middle school teacher…ironically, this happened because the school so loved me as a sub when I was shadowing my kids through school) I do most of my writing there. It started when I worked for two and a half years in a sales job (my first 9-5 gig). My manager and I came to an agreement that I would use my breaks and lunch to write. So I’d plan my writing the night before then hit the ground running during those times. Basically, I learned to do writing “sprints.” It so changed my method and output, I’ve kept it up ever since. My oldest son sometimes “agents” me, negotiating my appearance fees since it involves them taking me away from him. My youngest often claims that he’s giving me space to write, which is usually code for “I’ll be playing video games.” But I would go to their schools to do talks or run workshops/residencies or substitute teach to spend more time together. I would work them into projects (my middle grade detective novel series is basically a chronicle of my kids’ antics in school). I recently worked my youngest’s videogame playing into a story as we played games together and called it “research.” And, when possible, the family goes to cons with me (me and the boys did a “guys road trip” to one of my speaking engagements and my wife went on a cruise with me where I was teaching. Again, nothing like her enjoying cruise life to relieve tensions and for her to encourage me to write more so we can do that again).|
Who are some of the major writing influences who most inspired you?
Maurice: Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley
Do you listen to music when you’re creating? If so, what type?
Maurice: These days, jazz. Bitches Brew (Miles Davis) is getting me through my space opera.
How long does it usually take you to complete work on a book?
Maurice: 6 months
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Maurice: I write longhand.
How many books have you written?
Maurice: Twenty. Have 12 published.
What are some of the best resources you’ve found for research?
Maurice: People. My neighbors in community mostly.
What have you found to be the best marketing practices for your books to the black community?
Maurice: Working in the community
What are some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?
Maurice: A play for the Indiana Repertory Theater, work for Dungeon & Dragons, a Black Panther short story. Unfadeable, my second middle grade book. Sweep of Stars, book one of my Afrofuturist space trilogy.
Thank you Maurice, for your time. How can the readers learn more about your work and follow your career?