We at the SEAD Gallery invite you to join us the evening of September 14th for our latest installment in our Author Talk series, an author talk exploring the life and inspiration of artist and author Robert “Bob” Pankey. As our current exhibit on display, Charismatic Colors, is by Jill and Robert Pankey, attendees will also have the unique opportunity to be surrounded by some of Robert’s artwork during the talk, so we invite you to bring your drink of preference and enjoy an evening of light refreshments and interesting conversation as we learn and interact with this fascinating individual.
A former biochemistry professor at Texas State University, Robert chose to pursue his interest in art full time after being inspired by his wife Jill’s success in the art world, however, his creative endeavors are not limited to the visual sort. In a departure from academic writing, Robert published Short Stories from Texas and Beyond, a collection of autobiographical anecdotes where he details and reflects on his experiences as a brother, college athlete, professor, and father, tales that are — in his own words — for anyone “interested in sports, relationships, family, and life.” If you would like to learn more about his literary background and inspiration, our interview with Robert is transcribed below.
When did you become interested in writing?
I’ve been writing all my life in my memoirs. Being a professor in academia, I also was responsible for writing as a way to gain tenure and promotion. However, academic writing is very different from writing memoirs, short stories, or novels. I found that the carryover from writing in academia to writing short stories was a natural transition.
What made you decide to write your book?
After years of writing my memoirs, as well as having my stories posted online, I found that the publishing of my works in writing was easily facilitated with the use of a self-publishing organization, createspace.com. The good thing about online publishers is that the up-front costs of publication are hardly anything. Online publishers will generally find agencies to post your books for sale, ie: Borders, Amazon, etc. and leave it up to you to how you want to market your book.
What was the most rewarding and most difficult part of the writing process for you?
The most difficult task for me was fitting my short stories into a template that was acceptable to the publication group (technology skills are a must). Of course, editing my transcript to make my points understandable and meaningful to the readers was a painstaking accomplishment. My stories are meant to appeal to everyone and are hopefully relatable to everyone as well. I love to listen to country singer-songwriters because their lyrics are so meaningful and relatable to me. Who can resist riding down the gravel roads, with your arm around your girlfriend, while the moon is shining on a Dixieland night? Who can’t relate to a swim at the beach with your family when you were young, and realizing that thirty years later when you have your own family with you, that those moments that you experienced when you were a child have all of a sudden come back to you as you watched your own children make sand castles and play in the surf. The most rewarding part of my writing and publishing is to receive a call, card or letter saying that the reader enjoyed my book and it made him/her remember what it was like back in the day!
If you could give any advice to someone who is just beginning to write, what would it be? My advice:
1. Practice writing as much as you can and keep a small sketchbook with you while writing down your daily experiences in a concept format. For example, when you see your favorite dog while on a walk, write down why that pet is your favorite and if you have any experience with dogs, relating these experiences as a concept for gaining such a fondness to the dog you’ve seen. My favorite dog is a golden retriever, so I might write down all the hunting experiences I had with my own golden retriever when I was in my twenties. All those nights when my golden retriever would give me comfort during hard times, or when my dog helped and protected me from danger along the way. Think of concepts to write about. For example, what were the things about your mother or father that you like (liked) when you were younger? Did your mother or father ever disappoint you, and if you forgave them, what was it about he or she that helped you to forgive? Ask yourself what issues you had with your siblings, coaches, relatives, and why you accepted them in spite of their issues. These concepts that you own and can elaborate on, will open up your mind to writing endlessly.
2. Remember always that if you write, you are an author…so employ that title about yourself because you own that, and set personal goals to try to get the writings you have created publishable in your future.
3. Create a style for your writings. Whether it be for a suspense novel or book of short stories, you have to determine a style. My style is to be honest and to write about the things that I experienced that have a message, for example, love, forgiveness, great memories, heartache, great friendships, etc. Lastly, I often use a “circular pattern” in explaining my concepts and experiences in writing. I start with what I should have known about a person or thing at the beginning of my writings, then develop a story and eventually come back to that beginning concept at the end. For example, I began my eulogy on my mother with what she would do to wake my brother and me up in the mornings (She would always say “Rise and Shine”). I can still hear that loud but loving voice blurt out that phrase as I woke from my slumber and readied myself for school. I built the story of my mother in the heart of my writing then found some way to bring up what my mother would say to us when it would be my brother’s and my time to pass on. Harry Chapin, a great singer-songwriter, who passed at an early age, once wrote a song about what it takes to be an artist in spite of the rigorous rules that are placed on children when they create art in grade school. It’s titled “Flowers are Red.” This song means so much to artists as well as teachers because of the concept, meaning and message it has to all young and old. I suggest you listen to it and make your own conclusions.
The talk will take place from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on September 14th and we hope to see you there at this community event! For more information, click here.