‘Getting to Know’ is a series dedicated to delving into the world of creative types from the fields of writing, film, music and art. Through a mix of insightful interviews and probing profiles, ‘Getting to Know’ is here to inspire, excite and entertain while offering a host of priceless tips and artistic advice.
To kick the series off, I caught up with talented poet, author, editor and science fiction enthusiast, Miriam Ruff to get the low down on everything from creative writing to guinea pigs…
Hi Miriam, how are you? Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you’re working on at the moment?
Hi Dan, glad to be here. I’m a professional writer and editor, and I’ve been working as a freelancer for the past 30 years, although I didn’t start up my company, Bumbershoot, Inc. until 2000. Right now I’m handling a number of different projects for clients, including Web content, blogs and social media, press releases, book editing and proofreading, and informational documents. I’m also working on a new short story, which I hope to have finished soon.
I understand you have a big passion for science. Would you say this has had a major influence on your written work over the years?
Actually, I’m a complete nerd and proud of it!! My degree is in Zoology (cell biology), and I was thinking of minoring in Astronomy, though that never came to pass. I’m fascinated by the way things work, especially in the absence of gravity, so it was a natural fit. Chemistry, physics – I loved my classes and couldn’t wait to take more. I would say that it most definitely influenced my writing over the years. I’ve done numerous health and wellness articles and e-books, as well as science articles written for the lay audience. And with my love of science fiction – I gobble up anything I can find – just about all my stories have some basis in science.
Do you remember completing your first ever poem or story? How did it feel and doyou ever refer back to it?
I don’t remember my first one, and, to be honest, most of my initial attempts at stories were pretty bad. It wasn’t until I learned more about structure, tone, characterization, and theme that I was able to write something I felt worthy of showing to anyone else. My first major poem after I started up my company was a deeply personal and wrenching affair called “The Demon-Whisperer” that I simply felt I HAD to write, and it ended up getting published in The Journal of Humanistic Psychology of all places. Every so often I go back to it and find the power in it once again; it gives me the incentive to keep on going with whatever type of writing I want to do.
Are there any tips or advice you’d like to give the young and aspiring writers out there?
Practice, practice, practice, read other people’s work you find interesting or well written and then practice some more. The first attempts you make will be utter garbage, but try to get feedback from other people and incorporate their comments into your revisions. Understand that writing is a process and a craft, and you will ALWAYS be learning them. That and don’t give up your day job until you’re sure you can make a living doing what you want to do. It’s a discipline that demands constant commitment, time, and effort. If you’re not willing to put those into your writing, do something else.
Your most recent short story, If Only…is largely based on in the realms of a cyber world. Is there anything in particular that encouraged the idea and would you say this is your best work to date?
Actually, the initial idea came from my father. He said, “What would happen if two people communicated over the Internet without being able to see each other and would someday meet?” I thought that was intriguing, and so I created Nathan and Jeffrey and the story that surrounds them. I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but let’s just say that my father was not prepared for what actually happens in the story and keeps telling me, “But that’s not what I had in mind.” Of course not – it was his idea, but it’s definitely my story.
I can’t say if this is my best work or not – that’s for the readers to decide. I write in many different styles about many different subjects, and each story is unique. The one common thread they all have is that they’re “dark.” I think if I ever wrote a “happy” story, people would drop dead of a heart attack after reading it!
You must work very hard. What do you do to relax and what is your idea of an ideal day off?
Relax? I work seven days a week, so there’s not much room for down time. What I do like to do if I take a break is to read good science fiction, watch wonderfully told movies, and find as many pictures and videos of guinea pigs (another passion of mine) on the Internet and just “ooh” and “ahh” over them. I used to keep them, but I don’t have room where I live right now to give them the accommodations they deserve.
Finally, what does the future hold for Miriam Ruff?
Hopefully a lot more writing, of all different types. I’m working on some short stories and have been requested to write a novella; I’d like to see how I can develop my writing to increase both my output and my interaction with the readers. I also have a new boyfriend, who’s an artist, and we’re constantly playing ideas off of each other. In fact, he’s doing the cover art to one of my upcoming stories. It’s kind of neat that we actually “get” each other. But I’m constantly reminded of Yoda’s comment (from “The Empire Strikes Back”): “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” I just want to keep it moving forward.
Thanks for your time Miriam, it’s been a pleasure.