There are days when I don’t feel like a writer. There are days when I don’t write one word of fiction, think up one plot twist, or have one paltry conversation with someone I’ve made up. (Ok, that last one wasn’t true. There are no days like that.)
Then there are days where writers I admire ask me to write about my writerly experiences. To be totally honest, there has been exactly 1 day like that, but it made my entire
day week month. When Roger asked me to participate in this blog tour, I actually felt like a really-truly-for-real-outside-my-wildest-dreams writer. And that is one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me. </corny_intro>
So, this Writing Process Blog Tour. Yes. All the writers on our little, tightly- woven world of Twitter (and especially those who inhabit the smaller and even more incestuous world of #FP) have banded together and decided to air our fictional dirty laundry. There are steps I’ve been told to follow, but I’m not one for rules, so I will probably miss/bend/completely ignore at least one of them during this post. (In fact, I’m positive I will, since I failed to complete Step Three despite a half-assed attempt to get it done.)
For anyone who wants to learn how the mind of a horror writer works (no, actually you DO want to know. It’s endlessly fascinating), or if you are a reader, or if you are a person who is even remotely interested in interesting things, then pause reading RIGHT NOW and visit Roger Jackson’s Ark Hive (SEE? I TOLD YOU. BRILLIANT.) and see what genius has gone before me. His shoes are hard to fill, but I will make a (rather desperate) attempt.
On to my own glorification:
I present to you, Heather the Writer.
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
This is a terrible, terrible question because it shows my terrible, terrible writer’s ADD. I am less than 12000 words away from finishing my second novel, SERA, an urban paranormal set in Montreal. I started writing SERA after being psychologically blindsided by a Dr Who quote, “One can tolerate a world of demons for the sake of an angel.”
This book means everything to me. It is mostly set in my MC’s cafe/bookshop called Coy, which is the business I would open if I ever won a million dollars and could afford to open a destined-to-fail cafe/bookshop. It is an exploration of everything I am obsessed with – death, evil, angels, psychology, demons, God, religion, history…and love. So much love.
Sera, my MC, is a much better person than I am – she is probably my idealized self, although I didn’t plan her to be that way. Asher (named after the second son I never got to have) is everything I have ever wanted in a partner, romantic or otherwise. And although his entire character was written before we met, he reminds me so very, very much of my significant other. Kush, the smart-ass, hard-talking, uncaring angel…well, he’s based on someone too. Someone I lost along the way.
This book is my life. And I think that’s why I can’t finish it.
It’s like a child. I would keep my children small forever if I could. It pains me to see them growing up, walking away from me, needing different things from me…needing me less. If I never finish this book, I will never have to expose it to the uncaring, unknowing world. I will be able to keep it a part of me, protected and safe. I will never feel as though I should share it because it will never be a finished “product.” I don’t want it to be a product.
WHAT ELSE AM I WORKING ON?
I have read way too much Neil Gaiman lately. (As in ALL NEIL GAIMAN EVERYWHERE in a 2 month period.) Because of him I am going to start writing fantasy. My first attempt in this genre was actually outlined as a NA – tough, real story of a regular girl turned hardcore junkie – and how easily that can happen. Reading Gaiman, I realized that I can still tell that story, but I can make it something beautiful.
My next book (which, like the naughty writer I am, I have already begun) can possibly be described as Narnia, but with narcotics.
Knowing me, it will morph and grow into something that I cannot possibly predict, so that’s all I’m going to say about it at the moment.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN MY GENRE?
I have a lot of education in religion, and being raised Catholic, then devoting years to Universal Unitarianism, then becoming devoutly atheist, and finally settling on the big ole question mark that is agnosticism…I have thought a LOT about angels, demons, good, evil, and their cosmic implications. At the same time, though, I am not a religious scholar, historian, or academic by any stretch. I am just a girl mesmerized by beauty and the unknowable. I write from a place of questions rather than answers, and I write characters who are seeking some undiscoverable something, rather than people with all their ducks in a row.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
I write because I have no alternative but madness. I write because inspiration is not, in my experience, a gentle guide – rather it’s a ferocious honey badger in my mind banging around until I finally release it.
I write what I do because I don’t know anything. I don’t know the answers to life’s big questions, or how to be zen or maintain motorcycles, or what it feels like to have cancer, or exactly what fabrics were used in 14th century fashion. I don’t know enough about anything to write a whole book. So I just make stuff up and write it down.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK
Whooo, boy. This is a big question. Ummm…I’m not sure yet?
Generally speaking, I write best at night. I’m a self-employed mommy of 3 with a part-time gig on the side and a penchant for volunteer work…so I don’t really have a ton of writing time. I have tried writing during my work day, and I end up getting so wrapped up in what I’m imagining that it’s painful to tear myself away when it’s time to work again.
Most things about my writing process (and my entire being) are constantly evolving, so what I write today may be a lie tomorrow. Generally though, I break every rule going – I edit, I proof, and I fix typos while I write. I make up places and facts instead of researching them properly. I don’t write every day. I sometimes wear pants when I write. I have never revised work while hung over. (I warned you that I’m not a “real” writer. This should not come as a total shock.)
My first novel (a shelved, never-to-see-the-light-of-day awful tome of crap) was written with no outline, no direction…following page counts instead of word counts (forgive me, I was very young) and it ended as badly as one would expect.
The second time around, I discovered that I could put my deep and abiding love for sticky notes to good use, and I started plastering my bedroom wall with chapters, notes, character arcs, scenes to be written, etc. This has made the process better (and my bedroom walls MUCH more interesting) but I am still finding myself drifting from my original plot, lost in twisted subplots, and finding it hard to end the book properly. However, it is likely that my refusal to just finish the damned thing is 98% what I said earlier and only 2% poor planning.
I also discovered that I write well with wine, and even better with coffee. I write best with my fuzzy blanket over me, sitting cross-legged with music blasting(Muse, Imagine Dragons, Ani Difranco, James Blunt, and many MANY others are constant companions.) When I’m writing something and it just works, I can reach this pitch of inspiration, magic, and adrenaline that leaves me panting, sweaty, and drained. There are very, very few things in this world that can move me as much as an engulfing session of writing.
For book #3, I have decided to go all in with outlining. Characters, scenes, plot development, etc., etc., etc. have all been considered. I bought a NANOWRIMO workbook to help outline and shape my story, and it’s seemed to help. The problem I’m having with this one is that there seems to be little left to discover during the actual writing, so I’m getting bored. I had like 3 days of super awesome excitement while I crafted the whole story, and now there’s nothing left but to do the work. All the work. I don’t want to think about that.
AND HERE’S WHERE IT ALL GOES TO HELL
So…I was supposed to have found 3 other writers to connect to and get them to continue this tour in an ever-expanding micro/macrocosm of writerly goodness.
I didn’t. I tried, but I failed.
I could blame the fact that most of the writers on Twitter that I know know every other writer on Twitter that I know (again, this world is SMALL and MANY-LAYERED), and so they have already been tapped for this project previously (TRUE). I could say it’s because I don’t know enough writers (ALSO TRUE). I could say it’s because I’m too shy to reach out to writers that I only know peripherally, and so I let everyone down (PAINFULLY TRUE).
However, in order to make up for my failings, I have decided to include a round-up of tour posts, kind of an ICYMI one-stop shop of everyone I can find who has done this tour. Hopefully, you’ll follow a few of the links and learn how people who are real, fully-integrated and functioning adults write differently from me.