Relatively speaking, Brad Henderson is a newbie here at Writer’s Relief (he joined this past spring, and some clients have been here for decades). But he has already impressed us in a very short time! Brad’s poems have a way of bringing us into another place, with his language and description shuttling us through his worlds. His casual, carefully “offhanded” diction offers a tactile experience of imagined texture: dust, flint, leather, brass, and steel. Read on for Brad’s thoughts on what it takes to build a reputation as a poet.
BRAD’S ADVICE FOR WRITERS:
According to Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, it takes three things to become a successful writer: talent, luck, and audacity.
I’ve been writing and publishing poetry and prose for the past 25 years. All throughout that time, I have labored hard to improve upon and hone my talents. As for luck, it comes and goes, comes and goes. I don’t have any control over luck. And, as for audacity (and tenacity), in addition to networking, self-promoting, and all that jazz, I know it is critical for me to be submitting work all year long—“3”-“6”-“5.” Publishing is a low odds game. I know you have to accept this if you’re going to play to win. Good gracious, it took me 10 years and over 400 rejections to find a publisher for my novel, Drums.
Though I love doing all of the other parts, I confess: It is the submission part of being a writer that wears me down and presents itself as something I dread. That is why, in addition to using a literary agent, I now also use Writer’s Relief for my individual poems, essays, and stories. Their service is wonderful.
For example, this summer while I was on sabbatical from my teaching job, I went into the proverbial woodshed to focus exclusively on the writing of a book manuscript. I was extremely busy. Yet all the while, thanks to Writer’s Relief, my poems were circulating around to journals and magazines and getting picked up—one here, two there, and so on. Meanwhile, I wrote. Not having to worry about submissions was a magnificent relief.
Brad Henderson grew up as a city boy who summered on his granddad’s ranch in the Sacramento Valley foothills of California. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic State College in San Luis Obispo and his master’s in creative writing (MPW) from University of Southern California. His recently completed poetry book manuscript, The Secret Cowboy: the life & times of the rebel poet Beau Hamel, was named a semifinalist for University of Arkansas Press’ 2011 Miller Williams Poetry Book Prize. This coming year, Brad will codirect the poetry track at the San Francisco Writers’ Conference 2012. His poems have appeared (or will appear soon) in The Journal, Asheville Review, Fourteen Hills, Southern California Review, PedestalMagazine.com, and others.
As for the other arts, Henderson started playing drums when he was in the fourth grade and has played drums ever since. He wrote his Phi Kappa Phi Award-winning Drums: a Novel based on his experiences playing in a 1980s nightclub band. Henderson has worked as a cowboy, truck dock laborer, corporate engineer, and currently teaches writing at University of California, Davis. His latest prose project is a darkly humorous memoir about a frustrated writer’s ill-fated quest to “make it big-time” in his 40s. Henderson’s work is represented by Larsen & Pomada Literary Agency.
Learn more about Brad Henderson.
QUESTION: If a writer needs talent, luck, and audacity, what would you add to the list?
Congrats on your success, Brad! I think besides talent, luck, and audacity, a writer definitely needs persistence!