An Interview with Nathaniel Schmeling: Author of Timing the Infinite

Nathaniel SchmelingI am a graduate from Illinois Wesleyan, where I majored in Creative Writing and Computer Science, who now works as a software engineer, not merely because it affords me the freedom to spend my nights writing.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

After hearing back promising no’s from agents, I became sick of playing the submit and wait game. I also figured that even if I were to go through the process of someone else handling the publishing, the marketing would still fall on my shoulders. (And that’s really the hard part anyways). There is, too, a sort of pride in being an indie writer, someone pulling himself up by his bootstraps through self-publishing, making his own way outside of and against the mainstream.

As a writer, what is your schedule? How do you get the job done?

I scribble into my phone half-thoughts, then rewrite those as sentences, then reassemble them into paragraphs, then review the whole project on my computer. The hope is that none of the good ideas get away and the all the bad ones never make the page.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I’ve never really cared or bothered with writer’s block. There’s no time limit on writing a great book (if you enjoy doing it, what’s the rush to be done with it anyways), but if you’re stuck for a prolonged period then the topic might be wrong or you don’t know enough about it. Storyboard it out, start high level, broad strokes, before you let the details trip you up.

Tell us about the genre you wrote in, and why you chose to write this sort of book.

Growing up, I was drawn to the stories of unrealistic rebels and geniuses and heroes, to the tales of dramatic love which could not be deterred. But also, to how the real-time lives and ascensions of great figures played out. Those two-sides of the gambit mixed into a singular approach: The fantastic and far-fetched with an underlying sentimentality, a tragicness, that has to be covered up with humor.

Timing the Infinite by Nathaniel SchmelingWho are your biggest writing inspirations and why?

While I try to read as many writers (especially the recognized and obscure greats) as I possibly can for an understanding of story form, my biggest inspiration comes from incorporating elements of other artistic crafts (classic movies, well-rated video-games, award-winning poetry, plays, and operas) as an impression.

How do your friends and family get involved with your writing? What do they think of your book?

There was an outpouring of support in terms of congratulating me on having written the book, but those same people did not hunker down to actually read the text or go out of their way to help spread the word (while the ones who were less enthusiastic did). It’s part of the ongoing realization that what people say and what they’re willing to do are separate entities with only the appearance of causal relations.

What are your plans now your book is published?

My plan for the book is not so much putting it in as many as hands as possible but under the radar of those who will get something from it. The big trouble for me with marketing is that the results aren’t immediate or immediately obvious. The smaller trouble is that it’s hard to advertise for the complex because you have to distill out all the nuances which differentiate it from the simple.

Why did you write about this particular subject?

I tried to write this book in high school but only had vague notions of what ideas should be the plot. I had a skeleton for the story which didn’t gain meat until I lived through similar events. These formative experiences, which were undoubtedly sought out because they correlated to this youthful writing attempt, became the heft of a final narrative. Because these ideas were able to stew and grow with me, the telling of them is stronger, more personal, and closer to what’s true.

What did you learn on your journey as an author?

You write as well as you want to, in whatever way you want to, about whatever you want to. This freedom isn’t the kind which is restricting, but you have to realize that to take advantage of it.

What’s next for you as an author?

I have to write. It’s a compulsion. The next novel started formulating before this one was finalized. And this one plans to be much shorter with an ample amount of nonsense and fun and joy that veers onto new conceptual ground without alienating my original style.

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