That’s the tone the offer was wrapped in, and since it came from none other than the lovely and talented (wait, that’s an overused cliche’, let’s instead say “Radiant and enviably creative”) DCT, I really had no choice but to join in.
The offer was this: a chain of writers, each posting about how they do what they do, links across blogs as far as the eye could see. DCT wrote her post (accompanied by wit, art, and links to excellent writers to be discovered), so after a maximum of procrastinating here’s my addition.
This tour consists of answering four questions. Not two, not three, and five is right out.
What am I working on?
First off, working implies a steady, focused effort. I feel that is not what I have lived up to in the last months. It’s been more of a drive-by scattering of words in hopes they coalesce into something intelligible. I will blame the demanding job and my busy social life, but those are really just excuses.
Currently I’m working on three things: Blog, Novel, Shorts.
Blog: well, you are looking at it. I got started doing this last year when I quit my life and threw everything in a backpack for 8 months.
Novel: I am letting my young-adult novel sit for a bit now that I’ve completed it, but I will go back to it and do the second draft in the summer. The next novel I’m working on is challenging because it takes place over seventy years and I’m finding it an interesting task to fill the various decades with proper attitudes, ambiance and references. I never was much good at history, so this requires a lot of research. The unfortunate part of my method of research is that I start following links for 1950’s movies and end up at 3am reading about mitochondria, Hitler, and asphalt. And chicken recipes.
Shorts: A while ago I took on a challenge to do “a story a day”. This resulted in basically a bunch of memories from my past framed as very short stories. It is a good exercise to structure one’s memories so they have a reason, a message, and a beginning, middle and end. I continue to do this, though after the first twenty days it has fallen off to 2-3 stories per week.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t know that I have a genre yet. I wrote a young adult novel, but unlike most I’ve read, this is not set in a dystopian future or concern itself with overly fraught boy / girl relationships. It is a coming of age story, so it has that in common with others of its ilk.
Back to the question at hand though: how does my work differ? I fear you have caught me in the explorative and formative part of my journey. I haven’t necessarily found my “voice” yet, so I’m still experimenting to find what I bring that is unique. I’ll let you know in a year or so what I find.
Why do I write what I do?
When I was a teenager, I was enamored of Stephen King’s books. His writing was blunt and honest, his characters were flawed and real. At the back of every book he had a section where he just wrote notes to his readers. Once he wrote about a common question he got, which was people asking why he wrote what he did. His answer:
Why do you think I have a choice?
I first read this as an awkward teen (on my way to becoming an awkward adult). It struck me as not only plainly true, but also a lovely dismissal of all the self-important navel-gazing that I find many famous people are prone to.
I don’t have a choice. I have tried before to write humorously, but if I’m not seeing the irony or ridiculousness of a story, then it just falls flat. I’ve tried to write horror or adventure or romance, but if the day’s events don’t filter through my head in just the right way then it looks, feels and reads as forced, stale, and ultimately just a poor imitation of what’s been done before.
So I write what i feel and what I experience. With a bit of imagination thrown in to keep things interesting.
How does my writing process work?
Process? Soooo, is this something a writer should have? Hmm. Seems like a good idea. I must make a note to acquire one of these.
So far I have tried three different approaches:
Blog posts: collect my memories, usually in the form of pictures, arrange them to tell a story or journey, then write the words in between to take people along with me.
Novels: write the first chapter. That is usually what is burning to get out on the page anyway; all the sparkly little bits that dance around in my head and need NEED to get out.
Then put that away.
Next, write out the characters to show I understand them. Write their dialog, their likes and dislikes, their relationships to others. Write a very loose story guide (this happens, then this happens next, then suddenly a bit of deus ex machina and the story finishes voila!). When that’s all done, go back and re-write the first chapter. Comparing these two usually provides me with a blend between them as the right way to go forward.
Shorts: spew it all out in stream-of-conciousness blather. Once it’s all out there, revise and re-write until it has a beginning, middle, end, and most especially a point.
Four questions, four answers. Sort of. Now comes the point where I’m supposed to continue the chain. However, I don’t know all that many writers with online places I can link you to (get with the program folks! You hear me Dr. Jimmy? Rosebud? Lurch?). I have, however, found some readers that are already part of this tour that I quite enjoy:
Brainsnorts: he’s a better writer than I, and I love following along with his stories as he writer them. Check out his novels and short stories.
And I will add one new blogger to the chain: a fellow traveler I found along the way.
This will be just the push she needs to get posting again. Seeing as how she’s off to Ireland, she’ll have no excuse now.