Welcome to this Monday’s edition of the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Don’t know who’s been following along, nor how long it has been chugging, but it is now my turn. You can try and track the thread backward, or wait to go forward as each new Monday arrives. Either that or just read this blog, here. At any rate, you’ll learn something about some writer’s writing process.
So here I go:
For me, much of my writing process pivots on the point at which I come up with this awesome idea, make a few notes, and plug it into my Writing Goals algorithm (aka, a list). It gets a slot in the line-up, a possible year, and if it’s really pending, a column in my Writing Deadlines spreadsheet (which is really more of an algorithm). Yeah, so what if this doesn’t sound at all creative or sexy? It’s not, really, but without this, there would be no that.
I have to have goals. I am my own boss, so I make them up. And then I stick to them. I’m a shrewd boss, a mean boss. I set very high goals, high standards, and then I expect full compliance. Otherwise, I’d be adding a sentence a day to forty different books and when I am sixty-three I’ll publish forty books in one year. And since that doesn’t really work for me as a career or a dream, I begin my writing process with clearly defined goals, to-do lists, and deadlines.
Then, I go to work. Okay, now we’ve gone from unsexy to simple, but not creative. Sigh. Still, hours must be logged, or I’ll never write any sentences on any books and then when I’m sixty-three I’ll be the world’s longest-employed barista with a long list of regrets. This also doesn’t work for me. So I drop my kids at school, I drive to the coffee shop or the library, I wheel in my super-noisy work bag (I have a bad back, you know), and endure the air conditioning and burnt coffee smell to put thousands of words on the digital page. (I can not tell a lie: some days I do this at home while running the laundry.) Sometimes that means blogs, sometimes, actually, its less words and more publishing and marketing, and sometimes–hopefully way most of the time–it’s stories. The story in the queue (see point above).
Then, over-looking all that jazz about platform-building and editing and designing and publishing and marketing, I write. I find it absolutely crucial to deny the existence of writers’ block. I don’t believe in it. If I think I have it, it’s just impatience and too-high standards. Performance anxiety. I am in a line of work in which one has to face down performance anxiety and win the staring contest. So, no matter how I feel, no matter what else I feel like doing (Facebook and studying the wall be darned!), I write. I put as many words on the page as humanly possible. Some days I get to the end of the day and realize I haven’t done enough. (Again, Facebook be darned!) Sometimes, I think what I’ve written is total poo until I look it over another day and–whuddya know–it’s actually… yes, well, it is… quite good.
Then I edit and proof and let other people walk all over me, blah, blah, blah. The point is, I made the goals, I went to work, and I wrote. What more can a writer do?
I also need to address the rest of the questions for the My Writing Process Blog Tour:
I am currently juggling five projects at once. Yes, you read that right. I have completely lost my mind. Or else I am channeling Stephen King. Front and center, I am in the editing process of a fantasy novella about thirty-two banded and conflicting thieves called The Night of One Hundred Thieves. It should be published this coming September. I am also finishing up my Camp NaNoWriMo project, a fantasy novel about an unexpected fall down a hole into Hollow Earth called The Journey of Clement Fancywater. If it follows the usual trend, it will be available to you for the holidays. Third, I am about mid-way through a much longer project, a literary novel about family and lies, The Family Elephant’s Jewels. Pretty soon here, that is going to become the focus of my (ADHD-inhibited) attention. Fourth, I am emotionally drawn to add lots of notes and bits to Pollen Season, a book which I hadn’t planned on writing for a few more years. It’s about paranoia, mental illness, marriage, fidelity, and circuses. (It’s not light reading. And why do all my books come back to circuses and robberies?) Lastly, I have been doing a bit of flash fiction, poetry, and short stories on the side, and I am just now writing a macabre fairy tale called “Trecora,” which I am reading out to my kids as I progress. It may become part of a book of fairy tales I plan to publish about Northwyth. (See Benevolent or The Night of One Hundred Thieves, if you are unsure of what Northwyth is.)
So far, I have two genres; literary/general and fantasy. As for literary, I would say my work differs from others because it is airier (as in, not gritty), surprisingly introspective (at the most average of moments), and infused with whatever it is that makes my voice my voice. (I am told I have a very unique, strong one of these.) As for fantasy, my books differ from the norm partly by being written by someone who is at heart a literary writer (so, pretty language and prose), but also because I am not completely immersed in the fantasy world. I bring, as it were, a fresh perspective to all those dragons and magical objects.
So, why do I write what I do? Mostly because that is what has popped into my head. Sure, a lot of things have popped into my head, but if the idea has gone through the gauntlet of actually remembering it and then deciding it’s a great idea, off it goes into my notes. Then I mostly tackle these notes in the order that they came to me, but sometimes something new gets thrown into the mix for some odd reason or another. Also, I love literary fiction, great general fiction, and superb fantasy and read like a crazy person. In other words, what goes in must come out. Oh yeah, that and I was made for this. Seriously.
And now that you know a few more things about my writing process, I would like to highlight the bloggers who I will be passing the baton to:
Jacke Wilson is the pen name of a writer whose books have been described as being “full of intrigue and expertly rendered deadpan comedy.” Born in Wisconsin, Jacke has since lived in Chicago, Bologna, Taiwan, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Mountain View, and New York City. Jacke now lives and works in the Washington D.C. area. He is currently doing a blog series called “The Life of Jacke in 100 Objects” which chart a biographical course from childhood through parenting. He has published two books, The Promotion and The Race.
Please visit his blog here, especially on Monday, June 16, when he will address his writing process.
Juan Zung is the psuedonym for Huan-Zung Hsa, aka Ghozt Writer, “small-time, local” freelance writer. Most of his projects revolve around copy-writing, copy-editing, grant-writing and blogging. He also writes short stories. “The stuff I’m working on now are sci-fi/fantasy stories. If there was a strong genre called ‘literary science fiction,’ I would very much like to be identified with it.”
Please visit his blog here, also especially on Monday, June 16, when he, too, will address his writing process.