Conversations Mag's April/May 2021 Issue

Conversations Mag's April/May 2021 Issue

Monday, March 1, 2021

TAKE TEN with author Walter G. Meyer

by Cyrus Webb

It's been a real pleasure to read author Walter G. Meyer's work over the years and see where he has taken us through his fiction. 

In 2020, however, he surprised and delighted readers with his latest book: a look at his life, adventures and lessons learned. It's called IF YOU WEREN’T HERE THIS WOULD NOT BE HAPPENING.

In this TAKE TEN we talk about the writing journey and the new book, and what it was like for him to open his life and experiences up to the world. 


Walter, it’s been great following you over the past few years. For those who are just discovering your work have you always known you wanted to write? 

I always wanted to write. From the time I could hold a pencil and make letters on a page, I wanted to write. I started writing short stories and children’s books to entertain myself at a young age. When I won a short story contest while in elementary school then started getting paid by the local paper to write articles for them when I was in ninth grade, I knew other people liked my work and I might be able to make a living writing.

·         The newest book IF YOU WEREN’T HERE THIS WOULD NOT BE HAPPENING takes us through some interesting snapshots of your life. How did it come about? 
IF YOU WEREN’T HERE THIS WOULD NOT BE HAPPENING came together pretty much by accident. Early in the Covid lock down, I responded to a friend’s post about Charlton Heston with a story about my brief crossing of paths with Mr. Heston. My comment started getting too long so I turned it into a post of my own. Which led to a post the next day about Shirley Jones. I found each story leading to another and since March, I have posted over 250 stories to Facebook. They were too long to be posts, but not quite blogs, since I wasn’t really blogging, so I coined the new term “plog” to describe them.

·         Was it easy for you to write about yourself?
So far it has been easy to tell the stories of my past. As I go on, I may delve into sadder parts of my life, but this volume of stories is mostly fun or unusual moments gleaned from my life, but doesn’t contain the bigger tragedies.

·         2020 was not the easiest year, especially for those in the creative community. Did you find that writing was something that helped you through it? 
One of the main things that helped me cope with the stresses of 2020 was escaping into my writing. Since I couldn’t travel at all this year, I was able to relive a lot of my past travels and adventures. To illustrate the stories as I posted them on Facebook, I went through many of the 9000 slides I had digitized and each one of them brought back memories, which was fun and allowed me to revisit some of the places I have been and people I have known.

·         What was it like for you to look over some of your experiences, especially through pictures?  Looking at the photos from my adventures brought back floods of memories. Some, strangely, I had no memory of the photo being taken or where it was. I guess it is a good thing that I have had so many adventures that I can’t even remember them all. Each story I would write or photo I’d examine would bring back memories of other moments from my past. If this volume sells well enough to justify more books, I have quite a few more books.

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I have to say it wasn’t until reading the book that I discovered you came to Los Angeles to be a screenwriter.  A lot of people have made trips to Los Angeles and New York City in search of their big break. What has that been like for you to see the twists and turns that you’ve experienced since that time? 
If I had made it as a screenwriter soon after I arrived in Los Angeles, needless to say, my life would be very different. That would have been nice, and I still would like to see some of my scripts produced instead of just optioned, but if I had I would have missed out on so many other moments and opportunities. Many of the stories in the book cover the odd jobs I have had from working in a bookstore to teaching comedy traffic school to freelancing for magazines. None of that would have happened if my scripts had sold right away.

·         Social media was the lifeline to a lot of the world in 2020. How did the way you choose to use it change if at all? 
With the world shut down for so much of 2020, I found Facebook and Instagram a great way to stay connected to friends. I was used to using social media and Skype and texting to keep in touch with friends and family far away, but what really changed this year was using modern technology to communicate with friends who live within walking distance, but with whom I could no longer hang out. We’d do happy hours and games online instead of in person as we normally would. I also found it a great way to share my stories and started building up a following for them on Facebook.

·         Speaking of changes, Walter, what about the world of writing and publishing?
You’ve seen some real advancements in the industry since your first book. How have you adapted to those changes? 
The publishing industry seems as muddled as it has been since the internet caused a seismic shift in the way books are produced and sold. I have had my books published by major publishers, medium ones, and very small ones and each route has its advantages and disadvantages. As the stories in my book illustrate, I been through a lot in my life and I have learned to adapt so I have had to adapt to many changes in the publishing industry and will just have to learn to adjust to those changes. With so few publishers controlling so much of the business, often they want to dictate terms to writers knowing there is so much competition to be one of the books they will release this year so often dealing with a smaller press can have its advantages.

·         It’s honestly difficult to read the new book and not see what seems to be your tenacity when it comes to life and life experiences. What do you think has helped you get to that place of comfort?  My life has been different from those of most people I know, that is for sure. Once I accepted that it was going to be different and stopped trying to fit into a “normal” path, things got much easier. I no longer wasted time and effort trying to conform and just did my own thing. The other thing I had to learn was to accept where I was. Yes, I know I have made mistakes, and could look back at certain decisions when it probably would have worked out better had I made another choice, but I don’t have a time machine to make any changes now. In a business book I wrote that is set on a golf course, I had the main character say something that is part of my philosophy of life to the effect of, “I wish my golf ball weren’t sitting behind this rock, across a water hazard from the green—a green that I can’t even see because of the trees in my way—but it is. This is where my ball landed so as much as I would like to be someplace else, I have to play it from here.” Other than as life lessons to make better decisions next time, there is no point in looking back with anger or regrets. Writing all of these stories was a nice way of reflecting on all the awesome experiences I have had. It was not the course I had charted for myself when I finished college, but it has brought me to an interesting place.

·         Looking forward what are you looking forward to working on? 
Right now I am writing another book-for-hire, about an amateur bush pilot whose experiences make my adventures seem tame by comparison. Flying in the Arctic, he discovered one of the ships from the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin--people have been searching for it for over 170 years. The pilot crashed a World War II dive bomber in the mountains of Arizona. Lots of wild adventures that are fun to write about. Then I really want to finish my 9/11 book in time for the twentieth anniversary of those terrible attacks.

·         Thanks for the time, Walter. How can our readers stay connected?
People can check out my website: WalterGMeyer.com or follow me on Instagram @waltergmeyer or twitter @waltergmeyer 

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