WEX is honored to walk alongside Tim Cummings, author and actor. He recently received his MFA in Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.

Cummings’ Alice the Cat is a contemporary, middle-grade novel about grief, love, ghosts, and cats. It’s a Kate DiCamillo-meets-Neil Gaiman mash-up. As one reader said, “If The Goonies and Stand By Me had a Stranger Things love-child, that would be your book.”

When asked what he would advice others writing manuscripts, Tim emphasized the importance of “forward momentum no matter the cost.” Cummings encourages writers to write until they have a first draft. According to Tim, time and opportunities for additional drafts are plenty.  Furthermore, if you are in a writing program like AULA, you will have eyes on your work in the form of a mentor and other students. If not, find a mentor, or a writing group, or someone you can hire (or perhaps with whom you can barter!), and let them be your guide, your muse, through the process.

While you are writing, Tim urges writers to read widely. Cummings highlights the importance of reading books similar to the one you are writing, classics, and difficult books. He states, “It helps me to think of the writing of the book like a book itself: there’s a beginning, a middle (with rising action: crisis to climax) and an ending, or resolution. The process should change you.”

Tim recommends reading some craft books and keeping them handy: Francesca Lia Block’s The Thorn Necklace and Lisa Cron’s Wired For Story. For plotting and outlining and structure and clarity, Libby Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants is invaluable.

Moving forward in his professional career, Cummings plans to publish my novels. Furthermore, he plans to teach, coach, start a Lit Journal, start an LA-based Reading Series, and join a book club or a writer’s group. Attending conferences and submitting his Graduate Student Presentation are on his horizon, so that he can lecture. Communing with my newfound MFA community is also a part of Tim’s journey.