So…I wrote some book reviews & The Brooklyn Rail decided to print them. You can also find them online here [Monica Drake], here [Chris Offutt], and here [Kristin Hersh, Kim Gordon, Carrie Brownstein].
Last week a friend (Mary Ellen Sanger) sent me an email inviting me to be part of writers’ blog “tour.” I followed the instructions, sent out requests to all the writers I thought might be interested & hey, guess what – had no takers. Most everyone responded with, “I’m out of town,” or “I’m on deadline,” and some with “I don’t have a blog” … I was happy to see that instead of just talking or writing about writing, most of my writer friends are actually writing (!!) Anyway, I’ll answer the questions since I said I would and then at least this part of the blog tour will be over. (Sorry Mary Ellen). Onwards…
Acknowledge the person who invited you and that the post is part of the MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR.
Step Two: In your blog post answer the following four questions about your writing process:
1) What are you working on?
I’m always working on lots of different projects. I just sent out a short story last night that I wrote in one sitting during a crazy thunderstorm this past June. I sat down and did some brutal edits this past weekend and yesterday, it went out into the world. I’m also continuing to do the poem-a-day project wherein I write one poem every day during my lunch hour at work. And I continue to edit a novel that’s going to be going the rounds (again) this fall.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
It’s mine and therefore, different. But I don’t write in only one “genre” (and hate that word) – I write literary fiction, I write horror, I write poetry, I write prose-poems, I write flash fiction. Writing is like exercise in the way that I could never just do treadmill or abs or upper body – I need to exercise all the different ways I write or I get bored and bogged down. I also do a LOT of academic writing and sometimes book reviews.
3) Why do you write what you do?
First, the editor in me needs to say that this question needs some work. Why do I write? or why do I write in the above-stated genres? I write because I’ve always written. I write because it’s part of being alive. I write because it’s harder than anything else I do & I love a challenge. I write because if I didn’t write, I’d likely lose my mind.
4) How does your writing process work?
It really depends (sadly) on the rest of my schedule. I work full-time (M-F) and part-time (Black Lawrence Press) and go to school (starting a Ph.D. this fall). I’m currently committed to writing a poem-a-day and have done this for the past four (?) years. I write these poems during my lunch hour at my day job. It’s become so much a part of my daily routine that it just happens. And when I miss a day, I have to write two poems to make up for missing that day. I also put aside that internal editor whenever I’m writing first drafts of anything – poetry or fiction or non-fiction. Otherwise, I’d never get anything done. I don’t understand writers who take days to write a single sentence. Yes, I understand the attention to craft and detail and the passion for perfection. With my fiction, I go back and edit the f**k out of everything I write. My training as an editor (non-fiction and fiction) serves me well as does the rigorous work I did in the MFA program (New School). Usually, I can trust what I think of as my internal “ear” that lets me just write and somehow simultaneously keeps track of making the words “sound” right. If I’m writing a story, I always read it out loud after I’ve finished it. This helps catch any “wrong” sounding words or repetitive phrasing. And of course, when I’m selecting poems for the chapbooks I do with Mary Ellen, I read the “finalists” out loud to catch any weaknesses. I haven’t been sending out my poetry lately but that will probably change this fall.
Novels are a different animal. I currently have three full-draft novels (I do the National Novel Writing Month thing nearly every year). These I wrote all the way through until they felt “done.” That part of the writing is a little like being possessed. Then I let them sit until it’s time to dive in and edit. Right now, I’ve chosen one novel to do heavy structural editing and language work (line edits, word edits). I tend to use a similar outlining process that I use for academic papers to help straighten out plot issues but often, I have to do this AFTER I’ve written the first full draft otherwise I get bored and feel like it kills the story. I also read the whole thing out loud to catch any repetitive or clunky language. Once all of that is done, it’s going back out into the awful world of agents and editors in hopes of finding a home. I won’t self-publish my novels simply because a) it’s not what I want to do, b) that will do me no good on my CV, c) there’s a part of me that feels like that’s a really lame thing to do with my fiction. It just feels very different to me than the poetry chapbooks.
And finally, my academic writing process is entirely different since everything has to be fully cited and rigorously researched and of course, is for a very different audience.
Step Three: Announce the three authors to follow, including short bios and blog/website links.
Would love to but no one responded in the positive so instead, here are some authors I know and like who have blogs you might enjoy reading. I’m posting their info simply out of respect for their work (and friendship) and NOT because they’re going to continue this writer-blog-chain-letter thing.
Monica Drake. blog
Monica has an MFA from the University of Arizona and teaches at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Her debut novel, Clown Girl, was published by Hawthorne Books and won an Eric Hoffer Award as well as an IPPY. It’s been translated into Italian, and recently optioned for film by the brilliant Kristen Wiig (SNL, Bridesmaids). Her most recent novel, The Stud Book, is now out (Hogarth Books, April 2013) and doing great.
How I know her: I met her at Tin House in a writing workshop lead by Anthony Swofford. She’s awesome and a great writer.
Casey Haymes wrote of the funniest stories I’ve ever read. It’s about Jimmy (James) Stewart and a “glory hole.”
How I know him: I met Casey at Tin House in a writing workshop lead by Anthony Swofford. He’s awesome and a great writer.
Anya Martin. website.
ANYA MARTIN is a fiction writer based in Atlanta. Her Womanthlogy: Heroic (IDW) dark comics fable with up-and-coming Spanish artist Mado Peña has received praise in multiple reviews. A long-time journalist, Anya is the founder, publisher and blogger-in-chief of ATLRetro.com, a comprehensive guide to Atlanta’s vibrant grassroots independent musicians, artists, writers, burlesque performers and roller derby queens of the thriving Retro revival. She also writes about retirement, real estate, health care, travel and other business topics for the Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch.com.
How I know her: I met Anya in the Smith College Bookstore my first semester Freshman year. She was wearing a PiL button. At the time I was wildly homesick & didn’t know anyone else East of the Rocky Mountains who knew who John Lyndon was.