My friend Hollie at Hollie’s Hobbies invited me to be a part of a blog tour on the creative process, answering a few questions about what I do, how and why I do it. It sounded like a fun thing to be a part of, so here are my responses:
What am I working on?
I’m in the very early stages of writing my second novel. It’s about a teenager named Eddie and the disaster zone of a home he shares with his mother, who is an extreme hoarder, his little sister, Stella, and lots of cats. The story is about Eddie’s struggles to cope with living in his environment and to try to avoid at all costs becoming like his mother. It’s also about his mother, Beverly, and the pain and loss that has driven her to surround herself with junk. It’s about their relationships to each other, to their home, and to their past. And in the course of the story, secrets are uncovered. At this stage, I’m not 100% sure what those secrets are, but I know they are there, just waiting to be discovered. This is one of the most fun parts of being a writer–doing what Stephen King likened to excavating dinosaur bones, carefully uncovering the story bit by bit.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
To me, people are fascinating–what makes them tick, the layers of subconsciousness and consciousness, the very different perspectives that different people can have of the same situation. That’s why I enjoy writing stories from multiple viewpoints. This isn’t unique to my novels, of course, but I do think my characters have unique voices and perspectives. I like writing about people whose stories aren’t often told, visions that aren’t often shared. I like digging into characters who on the surface might seem totally unsympathetic, and making them relatable, understandable, perhaps even creating empathy for them.
Why do I write/create what I do?
I hope it doesn’t sound pretentious when I say that I like to think of myself as a voice for the voiceless, telling stories that real life people in similar situations don’t often get to tell. I wrote quite a bit about my motivations for writing on my About Me page, if you’re interested in reading more.
How does my creative process work?
I used to write mostly just when inspiration struck, and had a very hard time working when I didn’t feel inspired. This made progress slow and sporadic. Now that I have children who are in school mornings (during the school year, anyway), I usually devote at least some of that free time to writing or writing-related activities (like promoting my first novel). I’ve found that writing consistently like this does wonders for keeping keeping me in the flow.
When I’m feeling especially inspired or just really into what I’m working on, I’ll write wherever I am–in the car pick-up line at my children’s school, at restaurants and coffee shops, in doctor’s waiting rooms, during my children’s ballet and swimming classes.
Some writers recommend writing a whole first draft of a novel before doing any revising at all, but that’s not how I work. I like to write a little, then revise and polish, then write, revise and polish some more. It’s helpful to stay out of revision mode when getting the rough draft down, but I don’t think that necessarily means you have to write the entire rough draft before you can commence with doing any revising. I love revising; to me that’s the meat of the work. And it’s partly through revising one chapter that I start to get an idea of where I want the next chapter to go.
I’ve found that being part of a writing class/critique group helps me immensely. Not only does the feedback help me to be a better writer, but simply having deadlines for submissions helps me to be accountable and therefore more productive. For the last several years, I’ve been part of the Fiction Studio at The Muse in Norfolk, VA. I highly recommend taking a class with The Muse if you’re in the Hampton Roads area and have an interest in writing.
Now it’s time to meet next week’s contributor, my friend and awesomely talented writer, Leslye Penelope:
Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. Fueled by green tea, her main vices are forgetfulness and lemon cake addiction. She can be found at http://www.lpenelope.com.