Monday, September 22, 2014

A Stop on the Pacific NW Writers Blog Tour

I've been tagged by the fabulous writer, Shannon Huffman Polson, to post for the blog tour today, and in turn, I'm tagging Claudia Rowe, Kitty Harmon, and Jennifer Murphy, three great and wonderfully diverse writers in Seattle.
The point is to share a bit about the writing life by answering these questions:
1. What am I working on?
2. How does my writing differ from others in its genre?
3. Why do I write what I do?
4. How does my writing process work?

The quick answers:
1. a new novel, 2. I have no idea, 3. because I want to, and 4. I wish I knew.

The more complex answers:

1. I've embarked on an idea I've had for twelve or so years about characters from the 1930s, during the Depression, and the very odd thing they do for a living.  I'm not yet ready to talk a whole lot about it, and historical fiction is new for me, but these characters have been pulling at me for so long. I'm in heaven writing right now, but it will be at least a year before I finish! This is the reality of novel writing. It just takes a really, really, really long time.

2. We all write how and what we write as individuals, and I never really think of it as how writers compare. Some writers delight us with their beautiful prose, the kind you can read over and over and take pure delight in. Some writers pack their stories with so much meat and muscle that you feel you've been taken on a thrill ride by the end. Some writers are quiet and introspective. Some are hilarious. Most writers don't know how to characterize their own writing. Now that I have five books in the world, I do feel fairly confident saying that I think my strengths are concision, ease of reading (which is important to me; I want readers to feel pulled through my pages as much as possible), creating real characters, and an attempt to get at the emotional truth. I hope so, anyway.

3. I write what I do because it's what bubbles to the surface. As it turns out, my stories are often about characters who do battle with emotional trauma or mental illness (in themselves or others). I'm glad for that, because it gives me a way to talk about my own issues with those things in a way that might help someone else and reduce stigma one tiny step at a time.

4. First, I do a lot of thinking. I keep my eyes and ears and heart open to what's happening around me in the world, in my life, even on my walks and shopping and visits with friends. Certain things will "glimmer" and begin to coalesce into characters, themes, plot lines, etc. I'll gather them all up and begin to write about these things, looking for a way to build something from it. I'll have a few false starts and adjust, and eventually, I will launch. From there, I draft every weekday morning for about a year, and then I will revise for another year or so. I get help from trusted readers and experts, including my agent. Every book works a little differently, but that's basically how it happens for me. And if you ask me this in a year or five, it may have changed. It's ever evolving.

If you are a reader, thank you. If you are a writer, bless you. We're all in this together!

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