Greetings, and welcome to the writing process blog hop! I was introduced to this blog hop by Author S. Evan Townsend:
S. Evan Townsend has been called “America’s Unique Speculative Fiction Voice.” After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives in central Washington State with his wife and has three grown sons. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel. He currently has five published fantasy and science fiction novels.
Like the other participants in this blog hop, I’ve answered four assigned questions about my writing and how my writing process works. Please also take a moment to visit authors Jayne Denker, Briane Pagel, and Elise Abram, whose bios and links are at the end of this post. They will be answering the same questions next week.
1. What am I working on?
What am I not working on? ;)
But seriously, I have a variety of projects in the hopper. I’m putting the finishing touches on my memoir On Hearing of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter’s Memoir of Mental Illness, which is being published in October. I’m 40,000 words into a new romance, a sequel to Just the Three of Us, which I’m hopeful will be just as sweet and funny as the original, and 120,000 words into my mega-monster of a novel Shipwreck Island: How One Woman Spent Twenty Years on an Island with Sixteen Sailors and Lived to Tell the Tale, which, frankly, is probably only about half done.
Although I’m not able to spend as much time on short work as I would like, I’ve also got twenty or so shorter pieces out on submission, and I’m preparing several e-book compilations of short stories and essays in a variety of genres, which I hope to release independently before I go out of town later this summer. In August and September, I’m planning a lengthy road trip across the United States and Canada, during which time I will be beginning my second memoir, The Long Road Home, the idea for which was inspired by this trip.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Easy – it doesn’t fit neatly into any genre. My novels have too much sex to be women’s fiction, too much humor to be erotica, and too few alpha males to be romances. But they’re entertaining nonetheless, and I like to think that rather than forcing my work to conform to a specific genre, maybe I can instead gently nudge the accepted conventions in new directions.
Now that I think of it, though, my memoir also suffers from some genre confusion, as segments of it are written as if they’re fiction. There are good reasons why I wrote it that way, as I explain in my book, but I suppose it also doesn’t read like typical nonfiction.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I don’t think about that very much – I just write what comes to me. My novels became novels because they were such big, long ideas, involving in-depth characterization and fairly complex plots. When I have shorter ideas, they become flash fiction or short stories. Of course, I’m sure it’s no coincidence that my longest works revolve around relationships and sex – which seems to be mostly what I’m into right now – but I can easily see that changing as time passes and I become interested in other things.
My memoir actually began quite unintentionally. I had composed a number of short pieces – fiction and essays – depicting certain events in life with my mother, who became violently mentally ill when I was sixteen. At some point it occurred to me that it might be interesting to tie them together somehow – with a frame story, if you will. I’ll admit I was fairly stunned when it came together the way it did – it wasn’t something I had expected to write.
4. How does your writing process work?
It’s constantly in flux. I believe quite firmly that forcing myself to work on something when I’m not in the mood for it is not the pathway to greater productivity. You will never catch me committing to a certain number of words or hours per day, and I will likely never participate in NaNoWriMo or similar events. If I feel like writing, I write; if I feel like editing, I edit; if I feel like working on my latest novel, I do; if I feel like writing a blog post, I do that instead. There are always so many things I’m working on – and so few strict deadlines – that I rarely feel obligated to go against my mood, which I believe is one of the reasons I’ve been able to generate so much work in the past two years. Every so often I have to force myself to forego writing in order to complete “administrative” tasks, and that’s the one time my natural sense of discipline and New England work ethic have to kick in and make me do things even when I don’t want to. But I do enjoy the satisfaction of metaphorically crossing those types of tasks off my list, and I’m always happier afterwards to go back to writing.
In terms of how I write, I’m all over the place. A short piece I will generally compose from beginning to end, with at least half a dozen revisions before I’m happy with it. My books I’ve mostly started in the middle, writing individual scenes when I feel inspired to do them, and simply positioning them in the text in the order I plan for them to appear, so that I can tie them together later. When I get to about a hundred pages, I go back to the beginning and start revising, editing and adding new material as I go along, the end result being that I never really complete a “rough draft.” After I finish another hundred pages or so, I’ll go back and do the same thing, from start to finish, which means that different sections of my manuscript will often be at different stages of polish. Some chapters I will intentionally not complete because I haven’t yet decided exactly how they’re going to go, while others might be virtually in their final form very early on in the process. And then of course when the whole thing has been written from start to finish, I go through it several more times, picking out awkward sentences and those that could be funnier, more clever, or more meaningful or poignant, and re-working them accordingly.
This is where I usually work:
Last year I bought this stand-alone greenhouse that’s bolted down to a small deck on the one flat part of the roof. As long as the sun’s out, it stays comfortably warm in there, even in winter. This is wonderful for me because I do prefer to work outdoors, and besides that, it gives me a natural schedule – mornings and evenings are for desk work, afternoons are for writing. There’s a power outlet right by the window where I can plug in my laptop, and that chair is pretty comfortable – although I do end up spending quite a sum on sunscreen! So, if you’re ever flying over the Bay Area and you spot a strange green contraption perched on a rooftop for no apparent reason, give me a wave! You’ll know that I’m hunkered down inside, generating my next – well, whatever it’s going to be! :)
Please take this opportunity to check out these three authors, who will be blogging about their writing processes next week!
Jayne Denker divides her time between working hard to bring the funny in her romantic comedies (By Design; Unscripted; Down on Love, A Marsden Novel #1; and the upcoming Picture This, A Marsden Novel #2, publishing July 17) and raising a young son who’s way too clever for his own good. She lives in a small village in western New York that is in no way, shape, or form related to the small village in her Marsden novels. When she’s not hard at work writing another book, the social media addict can usually be found frittering away startling amounts of time on Facebook (Jayne Denker Author), Twitter (@JDenkerAuthor), and her blog, JayneDenker.com.
Briane Pagel is currently writing this biography for this blog. In fact, he’s typing this sentence right now. Now this one. Now he’s thinking this biography isn’t the most compelling one, and that perhaps he should make some stuff up to jazz it up a bit like say he went skydiving one time, only that’s actually true. He did go skydiving this one time, back in 1994, when he made a list of 25 things to do before he turned 26. He completed the list, too. It included skydiving, and the Polar Bear Jump where he had to go into Lake Michigan on New Year’s Day… great, now he’s starting to ramble. You can read more about him on “Thinking The Lions,” http://www.thinkingthelions.com“, and he publishes “lit, a place for stories,” which is an online literary magazine at http://www.nonsportsman.com.
Elise Abram, B.A. B.Ed., M.Ed:
Teacher of English and Computer Studies by day, wife and mother by night and author whenever she can steal some time, Elise is the proud author of Phase Shift, The Mummy Wore Combat Boots, and Throwaway Child, available on Amazon and KoboBooks. She pens a blog about literature, popular culture and the human condition whenever the muse moves her.
Elise’s fourth book, a young adult paranormal thriller entitled The Revenant will be released in eBook and in print on July 10, 2014 by Black Rose Writing.
Connect with Elise at http://www.eliseabram.com