My Writing Process – #mywritingprocess Blog Tour

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Of course, the Universe.

I am honored and humbled to join in on the Writing Process Blog Tour (#mywritingprocess). When Michelle over at The Green Study invited me, I couldn’t refuse. I am always delighted to read her posts. Her writing is both eloquent and intelligent, and I feel I gain a morsel of truth every time I visit her blog. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to pay her a visit. As I learned from her post from the blog tour, The Dilettante Writer, understanding the world around her is at the heart of her writing process, which makes perfect sense to me.

Now on to the questions I am to answer on the blog tour. Here we go:

 1)  What am I working on?

Currently, I am on a mission to complete the things I’ve started. I have a short story, a medium-sized short story, and a longer short story (possible novella!) that I will finish, just because I’ve come so far already. The short story, Ghost Walk, I presented on my blog and then rewrote, and it is still hanging off a cliff. My second untitled story I am still writing and will probably rewrite before I’m finished. It’s a fun, urban fantasy piece. Lastly, my possible novella, Knock Knock, is a horror story.

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

In any genre, the writer’s voice is the most prominent factor in differentiating one writer from the next. It is sometimes tricky to pinpoint why you like a particular voice of a writer. It may be nuanced, subtle, and small and calculated things, but it is something that pulls you in and stirs you up inside, making everything in the story so real that it becomes an extension of what is possible in your mind, your imagination, and how you experience life around you. The world the writer creates is something you relish, don’t want to leave, and hopefully cherish when you are through. If it is unforgettable, the words will linger in your subconscious, and give new meaning to the world around you. It would be a little dream to write like that.

3)  Why do I write what I do?

I don’t question what I write so much. I feel the stories are already somewhere inside of me and it’s up to me to dig them up. My mother has always encouraged me to write a book, and inspired my love of reading. She took a book with her no matter where she went, reading in line at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, or at church (just kidding).

As far as my writing goes, I gravitate towards stories that merge reality and fantasy, or that perhaps question reality. I like to see reality flipped upside down. It’s all about perspective. I also enjoy putting characters in interesting circumstances and then examine their relationships to one another.

4)  How does my writing process work?

First, let me say, there is the process that I have and the process that I wish I could have. Generally, I like to write in the morning when my head is a little foggy because there is less pressure this way. The house is quiet and I am less distracted. Half the struggle is simply showing up. If all I have to give on a day is fifteen minutes, I’ll take it and hope for a creative burst. I would prefer greater chunks of time to settle into a writing routine and into my story.

I don’t believe in outlines, because I think they shortchange my creativity. Part of why I enjoy writing is the Aha moment when I discover something about my story or my character. It’s an incredible feeling and I wouldn’t want to give that up. I find it helpful to have a sort of road map with possible plot points, and if anything, an ending. Having an ending prevents me from getting lost or diverted into another story. If I am lucky, my characters will point the direction of where they would like to go. I like when that happens. I also keep a notebook handy, so if I am not forming complete sentences, I will jot down phrases and words.

Also, I consider the thinking I do when I’m not writing as a kind of pre-writing. This wondering and wandering into a kind of zen state sometimes happens when I’m cleaning, doing dishes, and scrubbing my shower. Really, no joke. I can work a lot of problems out this way. I write my first draft to get the bones of my story and all my ideas. The second draft is for shaping, filling in, and rewriting, lots of rewriting, and so on, until I’m satisfied. I’m not afraid to cut. What I’ve come to understand is that writing is about perseverance and patience, believing in yourself and in your story. I think I’ve probably gone on long enough!

Now, I will pass the baton to three bloggers who will talk about their writing process in a post on their blogs next week. I am so thrilled and honored to introduce these bloggers who have generously agreed to participate in this blog tour. I enjoy these writers immensely and they all have such a unique voice and are incredibly talented. Here they are:

Sandee Harris writes from Manhattan. She was born in Harlem Hospital, wrote her first story when she was nine, and studied writing at Columbia University. Her collection of work includes a novel, several short stories, and a screenplay. The screenplay is one of three of her homages to the death metal genre. Her book “Mean-Spirited Tales” is available on Amazon.com. Her short story “Night Terrors” is her first published piece featured in the Mensa literary magazine, Calliope. Her story “Shredding” is published in BlazeVox, to be released on May 15th. Sandee Harris works in an art gallery, and at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

David Stewart grew up in Canada but is currently living and teaching English in Korea. He loves foreign languages, hiking, and reading. He first starting writing with his sisters on long car trips across Canada and the United States. His writing tends towards the quirky or bizarre, but he also enjoys writing in the fantasy and weird genres. He has written nine novels and has had several short stories published. You can read his stories at his fiction blog at The Green-Walled Tower.

Trent Lewin is a Canadian writer from Waterloo, Ontario. This past March, Trent’s story, “Saad Steps Out,” was shortlisted in the top five for the CBC* Short Story Prize, and it happened to be his first submission to a contest. His love of stories has fueled his passion for writing in which he puts his characters in improbable situations; his stories are sometimes surreal and always imaginative. He also enjoys wine, scotch, and baseball. Besides showcasing fiction on his blog, he also graces his readers with a few energizing rants. Currently, he is putting the final edits on his novel.

Look for their posts about their writing process next week. A big thanks to them for participating! Thank you for joining me here.

*Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
photo credit: paloetic via photopin cc

 

A Book Event with Author James Rollins

James RollinsRecently I had the pleasure of meeting James Rollins, a New York Times bestselling author, at a book event at my local library. Anytime I can learn how someone has made it as an author, I’m all ears.

Born James Paul Czajkowski, he is a colossal success, having written 26 novels, in the international thriller, fantasy, and young adult genres. Among that list are his Sigma Force Series Novels, a huge draw for his fans, where history meets science and a lot of stuff is blown up in between. For fantasy novels he writes under the name James Clemens. His novels have been translated in more than 40 languages.

I might have expected someone of such caliber to be intimidating or arrogant. Instead Jim was warm, funny, enthusiastic, and humble. He was there at the book event to meet with fans and offer encouragement to aspiring writers. I thought to myself how delightful it must be as an author to see your fans show up at event with a stack of your books.

His own path to becoming a writer was a circuitous one. In fact, he started out as a veterinarian. He explained that while he knew he had a scientific mind, his warped, right brain also competed for his attention. Always a voracious reader, he practiced his storytelling abilities in his childhood with tales that scared and tricked his brother. Growing up in a big family with six kids, I imagine the opportunities were endless.

He wrote short stories in the beginning and attended a writing group. Only one of his short stories was published, but it was this one achievement that gave him the push he needed to keep going. When he completed his novel and set out to get an agent, he was rejected almost 50 times, even to the tune of “This is unpublishable.” But on the fiftieth attempt, his work was accepted.

He is still active in the veterinarian community and joked he can spay or neuter a cat in thirty seconds. Animals appear in many of his books. In his latest novel, Bloodline, he examines the relationship between a war dog and his handler. In the story, the dog assumes a character role. Additionally, he actively supports veterans in a project called Authors United for Veterans and travels overseas for USO tours. It is heart-warming to see someone giving back to his community.

Although he mentioned that many of his books have been optioned in Hollywood, none have been given the green light until recently. Jim explained his interaction with Hollywood directors had previously been unlucky. He described one meeting with a certain director at his first writing conference in Maui. (By the way, he recommends this conference. Hey, sign me up!) He turned to him, thinking it was a person he knew from his home town, and said, “What are you doing here?” It so happened that this person was Ron Howard, who replied, “I was invited.”

He also described accidently hitting Quentin Tarantino in the gut at the San Diego Comic Convention. It seems Mr. Tarantino would be the last person you would want to hit, anywhere.

His advice to writers is to never give up and to keep writing. While Jim writes one novel, he is also researching for the next. In his own writing practice, he writes five pages, fives days a week. At night, he gets his reading in. He also prominently displays a post-it note on his computer that says, “You have permission to write the worst crap in the Universe.” He admits that many of his pages are polished and ready to be inserted into his story, which is often loosely outlined before writing.

He also had tips for authenticating historical events. To the laughter of the audience, he mentioned if you can get a few facts correct, like the actual location of a corner Starbucks, people will believe everything that you write. A little trick! In fact, many of his readers confuse fact from fiction. They swear the fiction is actually truthful, and the truth, all made up. I’d say that is clever writing.

As I presented my newly purchased The Devil Colony to be signed, he said to me, “If I can a write a novel, anyone can.” I left feeling a little giddy, and quite hopeful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get to work on that short story.

Photo credit: David Sylvian

NaNoWriMo Why Not?

I decided if I could come up ten reasons to do NaNoWriMo, then I decided I would be all out of excuses. So, I’m doing it!

Here are my 10 reasons:
1.  I’m not working; this is actually the most perfect time to do this.

2.  Instead of stressing about the job I DON”T have (see #1)  I might as well be writing. Duh!

3. I will feel a sense of accomplishment everyday; this is not true of the job search; then I won’t need to stress at all (see #2).

4.  There is nothing like a deadline to give you a good PUSH.

5.  I have a story floating around in my head somewhere; all I need to do is capture  it and demand an explanation.

6.  I plan to buy a new candle and light it at the beginning of all my writing sessions; I will have a ritual; I want a daily ritual; I might as well be writing as I perform this ritual (I actually stole this from someone else; isn’t it cool?).

7.  It’s only 1,666 words a day; They’re just words on a page, a rough draft; Ah, that’s nothing; Wait, I don’t like that number at all; How about 1,667? Better. Something is bound to go wrong with that other number.

8.  I’ll connect with other aspiring writers; I won’t be alone.

9.  It will be all about process and output; all junk is allowed; I’ll be in touch with my creative self.

10.  At the end of 50,000 words, I will be named a winner! Yay! I want to be a winner.

50,000 words, now that sounds like an awful lot…what if I get behind…what if my story sucks…what if….too late! I signed up.

I am a bit nervous, so wish me luck. And, if you’re doing the NaNo, please connect with me. I’d love to have some buddies. I’m “thebumblefiles,” but I’m still haven’t completed my profile, or put in my genre, my title, my synopsis, my excerpt…I guess I better get busy.

Hope to see you out there!