Monday, March 10, 2014

Blog Tour--My Writing Process

Thanks to my friend Jane Wilson, I am participating in the Blog Tour, in which authors write about their writing process, and their writing, by answering the same four questions. Jane posted hers last week, March 3rd, at Go check it out. And thanks, Jane, for asking me to blog my two cents' worth.

So, if you're silly curious enough to read four questions and answers about my writing process and my writing, here you go:

1. What am I working on?

My goodness, what am I not working on? I'm always working on multiple projects, which I used to think meant that I was super-creative. But now I think it means I'm not as focused and organized with my time and with my projects as I should be. I'd get more writing finished if I did one thing at a time. For the record, I do not encourage the multiple-project method, unless you are much more organized than I am, and you tend to finish a piece after a decent length of time.

Anyway, I'm finishing a thriller / mystery, titled (maybe), Mattress Girl, though I may stick with its (too) old title, Cursing the Darkness. (I'm sort of sick of that title now, but it fits the work very, very well. And Mattress Girl is not the main character.) Feel free to comment on which title you think sounds more interesting. This is maybe 80% done. A sequel (or prequel) is in minor stages as well. 

I'm also writing a short story, "Cribbage," about a father / son bonding memory, considered by the narrator after his father has passed. This has proven to be a little too close to home, and difficult to finish. 

I'm also working on a historical horror novel about a nasty, evil creature that took part in the plague in Rome and the Great Fire; in The Black Plague that killed a third of Europe (though I focus on the village of Eyam, England, which quarantined itself during the Plague and lost about 80% of its people); in the TB epidemic in New England from 1880-1895; and possibly in the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 and, if I'm really gutsy, in the AIDS Epidemic, circa early-to-mid 1980s. (Because that's what it was, and is, and I'm not sure, even 34 years later, that we've totally realized that as a society.) I'm actually about a third through this one, though it's in fragments. I speak of Book 1 of this project, which I expect to be a trilogy, at least. 

And did I mention I was drafting a novel told from the POV of the maid (who really existed) or of a servant (who really didn't) of Lizzie Borden, in 1892? And two memoirs?

I also write book reviews for an online mystery magazine. You can see why I do not suggest this juggling-writing method.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I try to turn each genre on its head, or to at least introduce something new to it. I'm writing Cursing the Darkness because I've been reading mystery, and noir, and detective novels, and combinations of those, since my early teens. The darkness, the loneliness, the lone man standing on his own (but not being as alone as he thinks he is) against the evils and ills of his society, of his world--all of that resonates with me. I feel I often do much the same thing, though I'm not a detective. I suspect, though, that I could be a good one, but I wouldn't be able to work in a constrictive environment, like a police force. I wouldn't be able to stand the politics, the red tape, looking in the faces of murderers and abusers and rapists and not being able to beat the hell out of them, the frustration of having to let go of an unsolved case because of the next case...

The memoirs I write because I have something very specific to say in them; to be honest, they're in such an infancy that I don't know how they'll be different yet. Except for its main subject, of course...

The short story in general is a form I like a lot. It's immediately gratifying for the author, in the sense that they're finished faster than a novel, and the editor's Yes or No comes back quicker than an agent's or publisher's does. Mine are different, I think, because I focus on an aspect of the story's genre, or themes, that are not as tread upon as are others. "Hide the Weird," for example, differed because it focused on the minute details of one potential death, one incident, and it ended with a "knowing" detail that was a little different, a little quirky. I like that about short stories, that you can focus on one thing, and turn it around, or amplify it...

The historical horror novel will be different because it takes a bit of the vampire trope (though it's not exactly a vampire, per se) and focuses more on the European vampire myths rather than the American neck-biter. (There's no neck-biting, for example.) These bad dudes are quite nasty because they're more life-drainers and spirit-suckers, like the original European and Asian ones were. They are not Victorian blood-sucking stand-ins for repressed sexual urges--if I can be so bold. And these are not things you'd want to have a romance with! No one gets lovey-dovey about these guys. It's not even an option. These are things you want to run away from, fast--if you can. That's difficult because they tend to hide in the footsteps of bigger catastrophes--like fires, and plagues, and viruses. But they also hide in the biases of the society's reaction towards these catastrophes--and that's another way this trilogy is different. How can you run from such a thing in Eyam, England, during the Plague, when the town's already quarantined? While people in New England in the 1880s and 1890s, for example, were dropping from consumption, a few unfortunate folks were succumbing to this demonic thing--which hid in the footsteps of the TB, and its way to kill even mirrored TB's symptoms. So that's different, too.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Whoops--I kind of answered that in the paragraph above. Though, actually, the real answer for this is because it interests me. A lot. I've got something to say, something to show, and I know I can do so in a different way than what's already been done--at all, or recently, or both. My characters tend to surprise me, which is always good, and I tend to surprise myself. I write some things and I think--Wow! I didn't know I was going to go there! I'm rarely in love with what I write, but it's a blessing when something comes out just right, and a little bit different. "So Many Reasons to Celebrate the Season" worked like that. Didn't even know it was going to come out that way, and say what it said, until it did. "Hide the Weird" was a little more planned in my head, but the ending was still a nice little twist / surprise for me. And so that's why I write what I do as well--to surprise myself, to complete something of my own unique creation that really works. It's like a mechanic making his own engine and liking how it purrs. It's rare for me, but it's blissful when it happens.

4. How does your writing process work?

Oh, Lord. Well, here's the nasty, evil truth, and I'm very ashamed to admit this, but...I don't have a writing process. At all. I don't write the same thing every day, or even consistently. I don't write at the same time every day, or even (what I feel is) consistently. I don't outline. I do listen to music, and I do draft. A lot. When I can. Whenever my job doesn't consume me; whenever I conquer my own fear, or frustration, or lack of focus, or whatever it is (Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance, which is as good a name for it as any) that prohibits me from sitting my butt down and working on one project consistently, at the same time every day, until it's done. This is maddening beyond belief; I would literally tear my hair out if I thought I could afford to lose any more of it. I do not advise my working method, if I can even call it that, for anybody. Sit your butt down and work on one thing (or one big thing and one smaller thing) at one time. Otherwise it'll all paralyze you like it often does me. It is a minor miracle that I've gotten as many projects done as I have, and that I've been published as often as I have. Every finished piece is a miracle baby--even the ones that don't sell. I'm proud of them all, in some way. They're all a piece of me, and they all came out hard.

Well, that's it. Thanks for stopping by! Next week, please check out the writing processes of these three good writers:

No comments:

Post a Comment