POULTNEY - Vermont resident Archer Mayor, New England's premiere mystery novelist, visited with Poultney High School Oct. 9 through the collaboration of Dawn Sarli, challenge teacher and Catherine M. Oliverio, English language arts.
Daily workshops had Mayor working with English, science, and art classes culminating the day in a question and answer assembly. Mayor discussed the craft of writing, forensic science, and his other jobs including death investigator for Vermont's chief medical examiner and deputy sheriff for Windham County, as well as 25 years in EMS and fire fighting.
Faculty and students thanked Mayor for his insight, honesty with respect to the writing industry, and his knowledge of the forensics and scientific facts.
Mayor has been writing and editing over 30 years.
"When lost in writing, it is so magical," he said.
When asked about retirement, he said, "I'll never retire until I get that movie deal."
Students interested in becoming writers inquired about getting beyond writer's block, character descriptions, and busy schedules. Many wondered how Mayor juggled his life.
"I write when I can, which at times includes writing on my laptop in the car between jobs," he said.
"Writer's block? Forget that," Mayor said. "Sometimes you need to walk away. What I do is take a 10-minute nap. If you hit a roadblock on character description, simply skip it, make a notation, and go back to it another time. Keep the flow going and then edit."
Mayor emphasized the importance of editing.
"I edit my 300-400 page manuscripts up to 6-7 times."
His metaphor of horse manure in relation to editing had the audience laughing.
"Come on, let's face it repetition is an issue. Revising is respecting your readers," he said.
"Everyone is a writer. Some of you text, e-mail, whatever-just make sure you edit what you send. The craft of writing makes me feel like a closet air traffic controller; and with so much going on, it's like performing an autopsy," he added.