Thanks to Jennifer Chow for tagging me in the Writers Tell All Blog Hop challenge, where writers talk about their process! Please visit Jennifer and the other writers I’ll tag below the post.
Question 1: What are you working on?
Does nail-biting over query responses count as work? It should. There’s a novel “out there,” being read.
I’m writing short stories right now; three drafts in various stages need to be finished and sent out. My most recently published story, “Book of Lies,” is here, in Prime Number Magazine.
There’s also that pesky novel start that won’t cooperate but won’t leave me alone, either.
I’m dreaming. A lot. When I wake and remember a dream, I’m pretty sure it has something to do with story.
Question 2: How does your writing process work?
So maybe what I said about dreaming should go here instead. But fiction ideas can come from anywhere; often, for me, they come from memory, but the memory has to be altered to work as fiction. Sometimes it’s a remembered incident or a place or a person, or even one particular characteristic of that person. No “real” truth, but story. Stories also come from people-watching, accidental encounters (like a guy who came to our house the other day to do some work–what a story there!), images.
I’m a pantser, no doubt about it. I don’t outline, although I realize I could probably save myself a lot of work if I did. The closest I’ve come to outlining is a rubric Ann Hood shared in a workshop back in January; it’s not an outline, exactly, but I did have to address plot points, create a one-sentence summary/pitch, that sort of thing—helpful exercises for me. I’ve been known to use index cards to plot out story lines and character development, but only after I have a draft. Sometimes I know the end of the story; often, I don’t. I have to go there.
Once I have a decent draft of a story (or a chapter), I ask my husband to read it. He’s usually my first reader, and he’s a great one. I also send it to a few other writer-friends I trust. These readers are my lifeline to the reality of the work; they often provide the “aha” moments I need to revise and polish.
Then I rewrite, as many times as it takes. Sometimes, my readers read again. This goes for novel drafts as well as short pieces.
I send the manuscript out, wait, and hope. And once in a while, there’s that affirmation: “Yes, we love your story, and we’d like to publish it.”
Question 3: Who are the authors you most admire?
As far as classics go, I’m a fan of William Faulkner and Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor, all great Southern writers on whose work I “cut my teeth.” As for contemporary writers–I’d have to say Ian McEwan, Marilynne Robinson, Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Strout, Ann Patchett, Jane Hamilton . . . There are many others, of course. In addition to the pure pleasure of reading, I never fail to learn from what I read.