The wonderful and wonderfully talented Brenda Hasiuk invited me to join in this writing process blog hop. You can find out more about Brenda and her awesome new book Your Constant Star here. I also reviewed it here.
So here’s how this works. I will answer four questions about my writing process and then pass the virtual torch to three other writers who will do the same. Here it goes…
Me drawing inspiration from one of the greats
What am I working on?
After several years, I finally completed my first novel (woohoo!) and am now diving into a first draft of a new novel about identity, and the selves we create and become and leave behind. My first novel was somewhere between fantasy and magical realism, and this new project was supposed to be completely realistic. But then I added a ghost. Apparently I can’t do realism. This project is deeply personal and raw and I’m kind of terriffied to say anything more about it right now.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Well, I think I typically write literary fiction with a surreal, fantasy twist, or whatever you want to call it: Slipstream, Magical Realism, Upmarket. I’ve heard all of these terms thrown around and I’m not sure I or anyone else really knows what they mean. I love thinking about the intersection of realities, objective and subjective. The significance of myth and religion and our need for fantastic creatures and miracles. I like to imagine a world where everything exists at once, our observable reality, and another reality within it or behind it or parallel to it, one that is alive with stories and magic and things we’ll never understand. I guess that’s my real interest, the mysterious and unexplained, and how we deal with what we don’t understand.
Why do I write what I do?
I guess I like to think that, on one hand, I need to get these ideas out of my head. But I also write what I do because I want to engage other people in this wild spin that is reality, to hopefully show them another side of the world they know and allow them to see it in a slightly different way. Those are the books I love the most, the ones that make me look at the world differently.
How does my writing process work?
Wow, um…I guess it doesn’t always work. But I’ve discovered that outlining is incredibly helpful for both drafting and revising. I like to make detailed outlines and experiment with moving the pieces around before I dive in. I need to have a direction laid out and then set myself to writing toward that goal. Sometimes I reach it and sometimes it takes me somewhere else entirely. That’s for longer fiction. For shorter fiction I often sit down with a blank page and let a story come out of the moment because I find it has the most energy that way. And in my opinion that energy is what really drives shorter fiction.
I’ve invited the lovely writers listed below to join me in this blog hop. Follow their blogs to see their answers to the writing process questions in the coming weeks.
When I was a little girl, I knew that when I grew up, I would be Princess Leia. When I discovered that the one opening had already been filled, I decided to become a jockey and win the Triple Crown. My dreams were crushed when one day, I realized I did not weigh between 0 and 110 pounds. After careful consideration of the Indiana Jones films, I determined that I’d be an Egyptologist instead. I mapped out my future: I would move from the rural South to a huge city, devote my life to running from boulders and discovering pharaohs’ tombs, turn thirty, marry a cute fellow archaeologist, and never have kids–in that order.
Then I went to college. I met a cute local boy who’d realized that the position of Han Solo had already been filled. I realized halfway through my senior year that I’d racked up enough credits for an English major, and listened to the people who tell you that what you do with an English major is teach other English majors. So I did the grad school thing. I quickly realized that if I became a medievalist, I could still wear one of those awesomely nerdy coats with the elbow patches that Harrison Ford wears at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I got into a PhD program, where I studied dead languages so that I could curse like a Viking when I got lost in the library stacks. I got married seven years ahead of schedule. I taught English, gave birth to an insomniac, moved into the rural Southern house I grew up in, and had another baby because at that point my husband and I were too sleep-deprived to make informed decisions and figured that maybe the second one would entertain the first one while we crashed on the living room floor.
At some point, I remembered that I’d started writing a novel in eighth grade. I kind of wanted to finish it. Somewhere in between changing diapers and teaching eighth graders about onomatopoeia, I did. And then, at the ripe old age of not-in-my-twenties-anymore, I realized that I still had not decided what I wanted to be when I grew up. But there were stories in my head–stories about other people who didn’t yet know where their lives were headed, but hadn’t yet forgotten how to dream insanely huge dreams. Young adults.
You’re supposed to write what you know. I write fantasy because I have fought dragons and meddled in the affairs of wizards. I don’t write for adults because I’m not sure how to be one yet. Learn more about Brenna and her writing on her website.
Kate Grisim is currently a second-year Masters student in the interdisciplinary field of disability studies at the University of Manitoba. Her fiction and poetry have appeared over the years in Juice, the University of Winnipeg’s creative writing magazine, and she was recently a guest editor for an internationally published social justice magazine issue on disability and ableism. Kate was a mentee in Arts and Culture Industries’ mentorship program in 2011-12, and many of the ideas that appear in her blog mylittlecrippledheart started formulating in her mind during that time. She is currently halfway through a writer-in-residency position at the Manitoba Writers Guild called The Disability Project where she works with writers who might not share the majority of their experiences with those in mainstream culture.
Traci Cox recently earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from George Mason University, where she also taught Composition, Literature and Creative Writing courses. She received her BA in English and Anthropology from James Madison University in 2008. Shortly after graduating, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English and American Literature to high school students in Žilina, Slovakia. Her essays have appeared in The Breeze, Fugue, e-Vision, Write On, Phoebe, Madison Magazine, and The Masters Review. You can follow Traci at marginalia.