Wales Media Boss Tony Dowling writes short stories – as well as running his media empire, being a full-on dad and husband, and enjoying the odd round of golf. He’s also pioneered interest and learning in social media in Wales through creating the Oi conference, now run by Coup Media.
I wanted to find out why and how Tony developed this writing interest. Thanks to his personality, this is a fab interview, we reckon.
Why do you like the short story format?
I like the completeness of it. I like to be able to start on, and try out, an idea or a style, and then finish it. If I dont like it, I can move on. I like to try and do things with it I haven’t done before. Plus I like reading them for the same reason. They are like the Twitter of the literary world! You can start, get engrossed, enjoy and complete in 5000 words.
What does it offer readers that other forms don’t?
I think its a bit like fast food. You need a fix, maybe from your favourite character, or favourite world or genre, and you haven’t got the time or the energy for a three course dining experience. You can grab a quick short story. I think it makes it more difficult for the chef, I mean author! The author has to deliver something fulfilling in such a short space of time. Thats why I love the format.
Do you have any preoccupations/motifs/fetishes in what you write about?
Not really, more so in the blogging world. I like to try different things. Maybe thats a preoccupation? I love writing sci fi and fantasy, but I’ve written a romantic short and most recently I tried a western! An American friend commented that they thought I’d written like a American, I think thats the best compliment I’ve ever had for my writing!
Do you write for guys like yourself?
I write for me. Its really weird in that sense. I can go ages and ages without writing, and then an idea will spring into my mind and I have to get it down. Its like an itch. Writing it down settles me back down. They are often complete ideas, thats why I like the short story format so much. I struggle much more with the long form. Ive got a few idea for novels, but I get bored with them myself, often before committing anything to the page.
What does writing give you psychologically?
I’ve never thought about it, but I guess its related to the itch I just mentioned. I love creating, and I love the recognition that getting my work read brings. Thats why blogging is so cool, you get to pop a post up and moments later can get a comment , a question, a compliment, or even an attack. I’ve had a few of those. They are really hurtful, and I think that maybe the fragile ego comes with the requirement for recognition. Mostly I get a real sense of peace when I write, and a feeling of accomplishment when its done. I really am lost in the moment and resurface sometime later having spent the idea fully onto the page. Its almost post coital!
Do you write under any particular conditions… alcohol, special chair, on a tablet/smartphone etc?
Not really, I prefer to write on my desktop, but I write on word or pages, pc or Mac. I prefer my little writing room at home with my Mac all set up, but can literally find myself writing something anywhere, in a hotel room in London or where ever. I don’t like the mobile devices, especially phone screens, though the software is often brilliant. But I have fat fingers! So its desktop only for me.
You are a sales ,marketing and media guru – how do those skills cross over into writing do you think?
I think they have really informed my writing. I often self edit like I would edit advertising copy. I am really guilty of ‘over writing’ and Im really attracted to the sort of sparsity of style evoked by things like Elmore Leonards ‘rules for writers’. I often go back and strip sentences out and even paragraphs if I have got a bit over blown. I’m also aware of the need to ‘interest’ the reading, or entertain. I want to hook them in with a tease maybe or with pace. And there is almost always a pay off too.
And with your particular expertise – any tips for aspiring writers of Wales please?
Just do it! Its a cliche these days, but I really believe thats all it needs. If you’re really desperate to write then short stories are the ideal way to warm up. I also think blogging is a godsend for aspiring writers. It allows for a lot of practice. And I’d say remember if you’re not comfortable with what youre writing, no one even needs to see it. Just keep writing and keep practicing. Even if its only for you. You’ll find your voice and you’ll be away! You won’t be able to accomplish anything if you never even start!