The lovely Audrey Dawn, she of the Oldest Daughter Redheaded Sister blog, has seen fit to nominate me for participation in a ‘Writing Process Blog Meme.’ To say I find this a daunting task is an understatement. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped to consider whether I have a writing process.
Even so, it was with great pleasure that I accepted Audrey’s invitation to participate. It is very gratifying to think that a writer of Audrey’s caliber is interested in how I do what I do. Thank you, Audrey!
For those of you unfamiliar with Audrey’s blog, you may want to do something nice for yourself and spend some time visiting with her. You’ll thank me because Audrey has lots of good things in store for you: fine poetry, some nice fiction pieces – and even better, a warm and witty heart. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to spend some time than with a nice cup of java and checking out what Audrey has come up with since my last visit. And trust me, she comes up with a lot. Her creative muse is always working – I’m quite envious of that. Anyway, give yourself a treat. Stop by and say, ‘Kate sent me.’ She’ll make you feel all warm and welcome.
Okay, now on to My Writing Process. For some reason, the very idea of my having a ‘writing process’ causes me to giggle.
After all, I’m the gal who seldom gets around to powering up her laptop much before 10 p.m., and then I struggle to snatch a few words from the muddle in my head before my husband begins to hint (loudly) that it’s time to come to bed. After several hours of trying to come up with something that adequately captures the ideas floating around my brain, I turn off my laptop. If it was a good session, I breathe a sigh of relief: Thank God, I managed once again to walk the tightrope!
My Writing Process: it is a circus high wire act.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention please! I ask that you focus all eyes on this side of the Big Tent where high above the crowd perches the Amazing Kate – literary heir to the Flying Wallendra Brothers. The Amazing Kate, working without a net and possessing nerves of steel, will once again attempt to walk a magical tightrope whereby she will combine words and thoughts into something resembling a story. Can she do it? Or will her precarious balance fail her, plunging her headlong into the abyss known as Writer’s Block?
I’m joking, of course, but not completely. Each time I sit down at the laptop, I wonder, Can I do it again? Can I pluck the elements for a good story from the chaotic mix of words, ideas and characters that play hide-and-seek with me?
Each attempt is a challenge and I struggle to find the idea that clicks for me. When I find that special idea, I then need to figure out how to convey it in a way that clicks for the reader. No easy task, believe me!
It ain’t easy walking the tightrope of creating something out of nothing – as I’m sure all of you who are writers will agree.
But since Audrey has asked me to talk about My Writing Process (sorry, I’m still giggling), I’ll try to give it my best shot.
First things first, though. As part of this blog tour, I have been asked to nominate one to three bloggers to write a post about his or her own writing process. To fulfill that part of the meme, I’d like to introduce you to two terrific storytellers. These two individuals are writing some great stuff and I make it a habit to check out their work every opportunity I get. They are:
Bruce Goodman, whose blog, A Story A Day, is just that – a story each day. The stories may be short, but the challenge for Bruce is not the number of words, but the daily creation of a story. To quote Bruce: “Some days the story may be clever. Some days the story will be (hopefully not too inevitably) not-so-clever. Sometimes there might be a sting in the tail. Sometimes not. Sometimes the stories might not be “nice”. Enjoy the days that are best!”
Bruce is much too modest – his stories always draw me in, and I was reading them long before I worked up the nerve to say hello and tell him how much I enjoyed his work. You’ll want to check out his blog – and when he discusses his writing process on May 12th, you’ll want to check that out as well.
The other blogger I’d like to introduce to you is a pretty redhead named Naomi Harvey. Naomi’s blog, So I Want To be An Author, is filled with all sorts of good, yummy things. How yummy? Catch her flash fiction story, Tattoo, and you’ll know what I mean. I’m going to let Naomi tell you a little about herself: I grew up in Buckinghamshire, England and I was fortunate enough to have parents who both loved to read. I was even more fortunate to be one of 6 children which meant there were always loads of books available to me. English Literature was my favourite subject at school and so obviously when I went to college I did nothing whatsoever with writing or Literature. I decided not to go to university, partly because I didn’t know what to do there. Since then I have worked in an office and spend my spare time making up stories for my friends for fun. As I approached my 30th birthday, a voice in my head told me to start thinking seriously about what I wanted to do with my life. I found a Creative Writing course online, and here I am! Learning the techniques I need to turn my silly bedtime stories into proper published books.
Please take some time to check out Naomi’s fiction and poetry – and also check out her post on May 12th in which she’ll talk about her own writing process.
Now, lovely readers, you owe me a debt of gratitude because I just steered you in the direction of two really fine writers – and don’t we all love a good tale from time to time? I certainly do.
Okay, without further ado, I will answer the four questions Audrey has thrown my way. Can we have a drum roll, please (and, folks, try not to giggle, okay?) —
MY WRITING PROCESS
1. What am I working on at present?
Lots of stuff! Including the discovery of what my writing niche might be. Right now, I seem to be all over the place. For example –
I have a supernatural tale in the works that takes place in the 1880s in an old mining town out West. For this little piece of bedtime reading, I step into the mind of a middle-aged sheriff who discovers there is more going on in his hard-luck town than he originally suspected.
I’m also working on something of a more serious nature, a study of a family in 1930s America, the era of the Great Depression and the approaching World War. I want to show that family’s struggle, and the choices its members make – choices that will affect future generations.
On my blog, I have just begun working on a series of both flash and short fiction pieces titled ‘The Schuyler Falls Stories.’ These pieces take a look at various members in the fictional town of Schuyler Falls. Things aren’t always what they seem in Schuyler Falls – nor are the people. Hopefully, the short pieces will prove entertaining. (By the way, I’d like to make an offer to anyone who is interested: the first person reading this post who can correctly pronounce ‘Schuyler’ has the option of being written into one of the stories as a character.)
Finally, I am also playing around with a story about a female PI in a small town – this one has elements of time travel.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Well, I’m not sure I even have a genre at this point – unless it’s the genre of ‘weird.’ I like to give things a bit of a twist, consider a situation from a skewed angle.
I blame my mother for this – Thanks, mom!
My mom always had a sense of the absurd. Case in point: one Easter (I was seven at the time), my mother took me to a matinee of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’ If you’ve seen that movie, you know it isn’t a nice little Dr. Doolittle tale. It’s dark and it’s pretty scary stuff for a seven-year old. That is, for most seven-year olds. It’s a testament to my weirdness that even at that tender age, I loved everyday situations that suddenly took a turn for the bizarre. (I rooted for the birds. Ahem…)
But here’s the kicker. Arriving home after the movie, I saw my mom had one last Easter gift for me: a pair of bright yellow, fluffy-feathered chicks.
Not the best timing for a gift of baby chicks.
To this day, I regard my mother with some suspicion. She denies she meant anything sinister by the gift. The timing was purely coincidental, she says. But there’s an odd gleam in her eye when she says it.
Getting back to Audrey’s question, I suppose I’m not sure how to answer since I don’t feel I’m committed to any genre at this point. I like strange. I enjoy things that go bump in the night. But I also like to write about the emotions of ordinary people – their hopes, dreams, their fears.
I like to experiment with different genres: supernatural, science fiction, romance, human interest. It’s all good to me.
Audrey, can you come back and ask me this question again in, say, five years? Perhaps I’ll have a better answer then.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Because it’s great fun and I enjoy it!
I love stepping inside the mindsets of my different characters, seeing life from their point of view – no matter how dark that view might be.
I’ve written stories from the POV of a variety of characters: small-time hoods; a person suffering from multiple personality disorder; a creature who is either psychotic or possessed by demons (I’m not sure which, at present!); and killers. But I also like to explore the points of view of just plain folk, those good people who try to do the right thing, in spite of the difficulties life throws at them.
T.S. Eliot spoke of preparing ‘a face to meet the faces that you meet.’ Well, I like to look beneath the squeaky clean ‘faces’ that people present to the world. I’m convinced there’s a lot going on behind the smooth exterior that people show in public. And therein lies the story!
In the end, I guess I write what I write because I like to hear a good tale – and I like to tell one.
4. How does my writing process work?
Beats me! That’s not a flippant answer. I often sit down at my laptop without a clue where I’m going with a story.
I might have a title in my head, the snatch of a song, or maybe I overheard someone say something in the grocery store and it stuck with me. If it intrigues me, I write it down. And then, somehow, it just continues to grow. It keeps getting bigger, clearer, slowly becoming… something.
Somehow, in the end, it all comes together. Sometimes, it feels as if I’ve pulled a rabbit out of a hat!
Several months back, my friend, Heather Costa, offered a quote on her blog, Trials of a wanna-be-published writer. The quote was from author E. L. Doctorow:
Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
I love that quote, and it probably comes best to describing how my writing process works. I simply drive around in the fog. Slowly. Laboriously. Word by word. But eventually I arrive at my destination – even if it isn’t the one I originally envisioned.
But that’s half the fun, I think. Letting the characters tell me where we’re going. I said that I drive around in the fog, but the truth is that I let them drive most of the time – even the ones who are monsters.
And most of the time, they’re pretty good at it.