Touring my Writing Process

I can’t tell you how flattered I was when Nina Killham, whose book Believe Me knocked me right out and whose blog you should be following, invited me to participate in a blog tour meant to highlight the myriad writing processes of authors and writers.

Nina’s answers to the four deceptively simple questions are fascinating, and I’ve been following the tour backwards to see what other writers have said.

And while I still have my doubts that anyone would be interested in my own process, such as it is, thinking about my answers to those questions was extremely helpful.

So here we go:

What am I working on?

I’m working on two main projects right now and a scattering of smaller ones.

The first primary WIP is something I’m not calling a romance, because that would appall the main characters, who have no patience for  the fancy tropes and trappings (emphasis on “trap”) of romantic relationships. Unfortunately, they’ve been drafted into creating the “perfect wedding” for their respective siblings, a couple of Love at First Sighters who don’t have a clue how much work a happily ever after can take. It’s up to our two anti-cupids to show ‘em how perfect imperfect love can be. I’ve been posting very brief excerpts on Sundays, starting here.

The second is about a wereduck P.I. with PTSD. Yeah, I don’t know, either.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Umm . . .wereducks?

Seriously, though, this is a tough question. Aside from plots and premises, I think all writers bring unique elements—characters, POVs, facets, assumptions, cultural cues—to our stories, or we should.

We’re filtering everything through our individual imaginations—and once they’re written, stories are filtered through the readers’ imaginations, too. It’s a game of telepathic telephone, and it’s an amazing, intriguing exchange.

It’s possible that my own filters are snark-colored and geared toward characters who don’t think outside the box as much as stomp it flat because it’s a stupid box and who has the time?

Why do I write what I do?

I write what I want to read or what I think it will be fun to work with—whatever sparks my imagination and gets me playing the What If game.

I want to see two intelligent, impatient people fall into unexpected, imperfect love.  I want to know how a prey animal might deal with a were-eat-were subculture.

Occasionally, a character will grab me, tell me all about themselves, and insist on word count—and sometimes they catch my eye and make me work for it. Those last ones are my favorite.

Also, humor tends to leak into my serious stuff, and my humor can get pretty dark. On the advice of a couple of really good friends, I’ve decided to roll with it and see what happens.

How does your writing process work?

I plan by the seat of my pants.  No joke.  I generate enough stuff to make a general outline, and then start at chapter one, and plan each consecutive chapter as I go, based on where the last one went.  Sort of.

I’m also an inveterate scribbler. By the end of the work day at the library, I’ve usually accumulated a small pile of scraps and/or a cache of e-mail drafts containing bits and pieces and lines and discoveries and also—hopefully—an idea of what I want to work on once the kids go to bed. I rarely get more than an hour or two of consecutive daily writing time during the work week, so I do what I can, when I can.

You can’t tell from my blog, but I hate leaving a bad sentence behind, but I’m learning to embrace the concept of crappy first drafts—as if I have a choice—and kick myself over the speedbumps.

Mood music and friends who nag with love are also key.

Speaking of the mood music and friends, the amazing Jalisa Blackman, from whence good playlists and enless encouragement comes, will be blogging about her process next week.

Her autobio:

Jalisa pretends to blog at Semi-Educational Reviews, but it’s really a placeholder for her tweets (@J_M_Blackman). She teaches 6th grade language arts and is working on completing her thesis and fourth manuscript. She isn’t sure which will kill her first, but if she survives, she’ll still be living in metro ATL with her husband and pets, a dog named Harley Quinn and a cat named Ororo.

Lisa is one of the most imaginative writers I know—when she builds a world, it stays built, and I’m in love with fully half of her characters, who range from jealous werewolves to child geniuses, burned-out cops to too-human androids, dutiful daughters to rebellious rich boys.

I can’t wait to read her answers!