The Creative Process Blog Tour
Thank you Andy Carter (cartercrimewriter.wordpress.com) for passing the Creative Process Blog Tour to me; you have placed me in some very good company.
what am I working on?
“Write a short story every week. It is not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row,” Ray Bradbury advises in Zen and the Art of Writing. I’ve read a number of his short stories and I’m afraid it is entirely possible to write 52 or 82 or 112 bad short stories or not very good ones in a row, which in no way takes away from his wonderful novels. His marathon is inspiring and as soon as I have unpacked from my 8 months in San Francisco I plan to post my first short short in the series on my blog site and see if I can indeed keep the pace for 52 weeks. I am also working on more quality short stories in a class with Sean O’Reilly at the Irish Writer’s Centre My ‘cheap fiction’ chugs along, going through another draft of an historical novel. An American heiress is pushed into a marriage with an Irish aristocrat, as were many American women in the late 19th Century, a “gilded prostitution.” My heroine’s father has a dark past and she is married off to a virtually impoverished lord in the West of Ireland. Her husband is glacial, the Ascendancy world is precarious and she must either fight or flee. It’s fun.
how does my work differ from others of its genre?
When I began writing short stories I heard a number of suggestions that perhaps I should be writing poetry and at the very least I had to provide my readers with ‘more information, more background, more explanation’. The writer Mike McCormack gave me Amy Hempel’s In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried and I realised there are others, better undoubtedly, in the same territory. As Hempel said about her discovery of the writers brought forward by Gordon Lish They didn’t sound like anyone else I had read. For me, they redefined what a story could be—the thing happening off to the side of the story other writers were telling; they would start where someone else would leave off, or stop where someone else would start. Right now I am still engaged in celebrating all the ways I do not differ. On the historicals, again it is a matter of attaining the standard of those I respect, rather than establishing new territory. Immediately to mind are Barbara Hambly for moral context she establishes in her Benjamin January series and Elizabeth Gaskell for the metaphysical questions in Wives and Daughters. A matter of being able to follow the rules before I break them.
why do I write what I do?
Because I enjoy it.
how does my writing process work?
For me a short story begins with a pressing image and then words, sentences, ideas follow that image. I frequently use a timer and write in ten minute bursts until the story has an arc. At the rewrite stage I go back and explore what is actually there and what I want to do with it. The historical novels, my cheap fiction, after several years of planning and outlining now begin in National Writing Month when I charge as fast as possible my rough draft with no plans whatsoever. This is always in the first person and frequently I will write out scenes from the first person POV of everyone in them. I find the need to produce close to 1,700 words a day to reach NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 word target is great for making the censor keep his/her mouth shut.