Blogger Interview: Billy Coffey

October 16, 2009

Hey everyone, I’m really pleased to introduce to you a longtime blog friend of mine. Many of you know him as the most awesome and inspiring trying-to-be-published author in our little corner of the internet. The rest of you, here’s Billy Coffey.

Billy, care to share as a matter of introduction?
Who am I? You mean besides the Lizard King? Just a country boy from Virginia who wears his writer suit underneath a pair of chinos and a white button-down shirt, which is the official uniform of the Mary Baldwin College campus post office. Oh yes, it’s a thrilling career. I’m also married, the result of which has been two children.

Ah, a man of many talents and uniforms. Yes, I too wear the pants of many different people…
How long have you been a writer? How close are you to being published?

I wrote my first story when I was seven—five sentences about a little boy who prayed that God would rid of the world of asparagus. I’ve been trying to rediscover that magic ever since. If you stretched out your hand in front of your face and slowly moved your thumb and forefinger together until they were mashing against one another, that would be how close I am to being published.

I am literally doing that right now, and the excitement I feel is quite unbearable. What work of yours is closest to publication?
My second manuscript, Snow Day, has been accepted by FaithWords and will be out for Christmas next year. My first manuscript will hopefully be my second book.

Your writing has a signature style. It’s been said by readers such as myself that it can be calming like a butterfly, fierce and poignant like a tiger, or ironic like a three-legged dog. What do you say? How do you keep the creativity going?
I would say my style resembles a three-legged dog who gets so distracted by chasing a butterfly that he doesn’t see the tiger that comes along and eats him. As for keeping the creativity going, I find it useful not to think about that. The more I think, the harder it is for me to write. So thanks, Matt, for giving me a nice case of writer’s block now.

Well let’s get rid of that writer’s block. As a test of your writing dexterity, I’m thinking of three random things: a hula-hoop, a pudding cup, and that three-legged dog. I’d like you to write a store to inspire me using all three. Begin.
Once upon a time there was a three-legged dog who loved to chew on the used pudding cups his little-girl owner tossed into the trash. One day as he was licking the crusted remains of a Jell-O chocolate single, he saw his owner playing with a hula hoop. Believing that she was under attack, he got so excited that he choked on the plastic and died. Moral of the story: no one likes and interviewer who makes his interviewee to write a story about three random things.

…Good story, but you’re lucky I was already inspired this morning, because that moral was seriously lacking. Allow me to suggest an alternate ending…

The girl was really sad that her dog died. She sat in her room and ate one Jell-O pudding cup after another. She would finish one cup, toss it on the floor, and open another, while she watched Hannah Montana and cried. After seventeen pudding cups, she finally got up to try to call Zack Efron, but she slipped on a pudding-slicked cup, and got amnesia when she hit her head.

The moral of the story: you should always recycle, not be a litterbug, or you’ll hit your head and get amnesia.

Any blog-heroes you look up to?
Katdish [Billy's "publicist"] said she would yell at me if I didn’t mention her here, and I hear she shouts like a Swiss yodeler. So I want to say that I totally look up to her. Seriously, there are so many great blogs out there. I look up to anyone brave enough to write something for the world to see.

Your blog has featured pictures of you wearing a cowboy hat, which is very manly. I hear mustaches are coming back as manly, too. If you become a published writer, will you consider growing one?
I actually had a mustache all through high school but then traded it in for a goatee. Now I prefer a constant five o’clock shadow, partly because Miami Vice is still cool but mostly because I’m a lazy shaver. In my experience a mustache plus five o’clock shadow is too much masculinity for most to handle.

I don’t even want to try to handle that kind of masculinity. Fortunately, I can leave that job to others. Do you think I should grow a mustache?
Yes. You could totally pull that off, Matt. And grow it bushy so the wind can blow through it while you’re riding your scooter.

Mm, yes. It could protect my mouth from bugs, and also assist while I’m eating, collecting errant bits of foodstuff. I’m seeing many advantages.

Speaking of manly, do you consider yourself manly? Many of the greatest writers in history have been men…Emily Dickinson comes to mind. Do you consider writing to be a manly pursuit?
Well, I like my cowboy hat. And I like tromping through the mountains. I can throw a tomahawk, love to box, and I can spit really, really far. Is that manly? Yes. Yes, it is.

I never thought writing to be a manly pursuit until my high school English teacher made me read The Old Man and the Sea. You can’t get more manly than Papa Hemmingway.

Yeah, that big whale was awesome. What advice can you give to aspiring authors?
Always try one more time. If you can’t get a paragraph right, try it once more. If you get a rejection letter, send one more out. Don’t think of writing in terms of the long haul, because it’s a very long haul that can very easily get overwhelming. You need patience just as much as talent, and the easiest way to get there is not to concentrate on the next hill, but the next step.

Luckily for me, I’ve got even more patience than I have talent.

Be sure to visit Billy’s newly revamped blog, and wish him well in his adventure toward being published!