Sorry I went AWOL yesterday. Life decided to interrupt and throw a curveball my way. But, today is going better and I’ve had some much needed rest. By the way, Friday night was a blast. I went to a bar/pub with some friends from back in high school for a Spring Break party they were throwing. Then after we ate at the bar/pub, we went to a local club where I got to people watch and dance. I’m not a party girl so I don’t get drunk. I’d rather have a few drinks, dance, and watch everyone. I actually got sat on by a guy and laughed about it the rest of the night because I’m still not sure how it happened or why. I’m not really sure I want to know the answer either. It was fun, I had a blast, and I’m very glad I went. I needed a night out like that.
Anyway, today I want to talk about my writing process. I was asked to be a part of a Writing Process Blog Hop, and I think I mentioned that earlier this week. I want to thank Larry Atchley, Jr. from my writer’s group for asking me to participate. His blog is Larry Atchley, Jr, and you can click on that to go view it. As to my process I will try to explain below but every writer is different and has a different process. So, what I want you to understand is that you should work however is best for you. I like seeing the way people process things to begin with so I find it sort of fascinating to see how people work things out.
I am mostly a poet I suppose. I write a lot of poetry. But if you ask me what I do, I always say I am a writer. I write. I have story ideas in my head. I don’t always write them down as stories, and I find that I usually end up writing a poem instead of a story. Yet, the stories remain in my head, though I’m learning how to get them out and down on paper. My personal opinion is that a poet is just as much a writer as a writer is a poet. It’s just how the story comes out that serves as the distinction. Since mid-January I’ve been trying to write at least two new poems a week, which is actually not that much, but I have kids and that doesn’t always translate into quantity. I have begun producing more per week depending on the busy-ness of my schedule. But poems are easier to write sometimes and once I get them out it tends to lead to more being written. That would be why stories remain in my head. However, I am currently working on a story that I’m hoping will be my very first novel. I am calling it Climbing Mountains but that won’t be it’s finished title. I’ve begun it as a story about a woman’s journey of re-inventing herself through the events of her dad’s death and the subsequent divorce she goes through, while also helping her brother get his life back on track as well. To be honest, I’m not sure where it’s going to lead me. George R.R. Martin has said that there are two types of writers: architects and gardeners. Architects have everthing planned down to the last detail, but gardeners plant a seed, water it, and wait and watch it grow. It branches out but they have no idea how it’s going to grow or how it will look when it’s done. I am a gardener. I do have an idea of where I’d like this story to go, but so far (even though it isn’t much) it’s taken on it’s own life. When I’m working on it the story begins to write itself and I just write until I’m interrupted or I have to stop.
I’m not sure how it will differ from others of it’s genre, which I am thinking will be fiction. To be honest, there’s not much right now to go on since I’ve only just begun it. I’m playing around with the idea of time travel and the choices we make. The only way I think it will be different than others that might be similar is that I will be the one writing it. I am going to have a different viewpoint, different experiences to play with, and a different voice. I would like to see it be different in that it reaches someone on a level that touches their heart and makes them feel a different person afterward. I would like to put a message out that our choices can change our whole lives. Can it be one small choice, or a really big one, and what difference will it make in your life? Every decision makes a ripple, some stay close at first so you don’t see it’s effects but as it spreads it affects other’s decisions. So, I’d like to try and get that out through this story that I’m hoping will become a book.
Why do I write what I do? I write what is in me to write. The poetry tends to take precedence because that is who I am on the most basic level. I was born to write it. I have loved poetry and music all of my life. It is who I am, who I was meant to be; take it away from me and I would never be whole. I would always be missing a huge piece of myself. Most of my poetry is about love. I feel that’s because I know what love is. (No, not a Forrest Gump quote.) My grandmother made sure I knew what unconditional love was. My aunts and uncles literally spoiled me with love, and I always knew I was wanted, I was cared about, and I was irrevocably loved. To this day, when any of them hear I am coming for a visit, they make plans to see me. I was treated more as a beloved little sister and daughter rather than as a niece and granddaughter. I was loved from the moment I was born, and I have been loved all of my life. I think when you have that much love around you, you cannot help but know what love truly is, and you cannot help but have it be as much a part of you as breathing. I have seen true love, through my dad and my step-mom, as well as one of my best friends and her husband. I have known unrequited love and how it feels when you someone says they love you until they don’t anymore. I know what it’s like to have your heart broken into pieces so small that you feel as if you will never be whole again. And I know that euphoric feeling of first/beginning love. And then there’s lust, and I know that, too. So, I write what I know. I’ve heard it makes the best stories.
My writing process always requires music. I work best with something playing in the background. What I listen to always depends on my mood, though I find it easier to write poetry with what I consider inspirational music. This includes classical music like Ravel, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Vivaldi, etc. It also includes music by Josh Groban, Kelly Sweet, Bon Iver, Celtic Woman, Celtic Thunder, Jesse Cook, Ottmar Liebert, Ray Lynch, Chris Botti, Sting, etc. I have a very wide range of tastes. Other times I listen to indie, progressive, mainstream, some rap, electronic dance, whatever hits the write mood at the time. I also write better at night. I find too many distractions during the day. I get too busy, other work cuts into to writing time, and kids, kids, kids cause huge distractions when you need a clear mind to hear what’s wanting to be written. When it’s dark and quiet, when no one is up, and there’s no other work to be done, that’s the time I find conducive to my creativity. It’s also when I can hear my Muse clearly. Sometimes I have a cup of Earl Grey with 2-3 sugar cubes or some English Breakfast if I need some caffeine. Sometimes vodka is involved, or a really good red wine. Also, I have some sort of snack because let’s face it, we need brain food. Writing makes you bleed ink and you must replenish your energy stores! Then I just sit there. I have a blank page open in the hopes that it will fire up some spark but, often, I find it just stays blank. Until it begins to bother me. Sometimes I go looking online at different pictures. It helps sometimes. Other times, I just bang my head on the table/desk and chant “think think think”. Sometimes, though, the words just pour out. Usually that’s during a period of intense emotions. The more intense the emotion, the more powerful the piece. Those are the words that are literally torn from my soul, and when they are done, when the last word is written, I am completely drained. Then I leave it. I go to bed or, depending on the time of day, I walk away from the work and come back to it later. I read it and re-read it. Is it crap? Does it make sense? What the heck did I write? More importantly, is it true? Did I remain true to myself and the integrity of the words? I re-write parts if needed. I edit. And then I send it out into the world whether through this blog, to my writing group, or to my friends. I have some poems I have never shown anyone. These are from the deepest, hidden parts of me and are waiting for that one person who wants to see my naked soul, and who will love me better for it. I’ve made the mistake of showing some people one of these pieces and I regretted it. Some day I hope these poems will be the love letters to the person who shows me his naked soul. But, to be completely truthful, everything I write is a part of me. The words I send out to the world are my love letters to the universe, and I open pieces of myself up to you when I publish what I write on this blog. That’s courage in spite of fear. You may not like me, but I’m taking the chance that someone will, that someone will like what I write. I’m no Shakespeare or Byron, no Jane Austen or Hemingway. I’m me, and my words are mine.
Now, here are some blogs of some friends of mine who also write and whom I think you should check out:
1) Darling, You Should Be Writing: This is my friend CJ’s blog. She is undergoing a 365 day writing challenge. CJ is a mom to three kids and is from my writing group. We hit it off pretty well from day one I think. CJ is also a huge Tom Hiddleston fan, but, hell, he’s British and that’s pretty hot. (cough cough Richard Armitage is hotter cough cough- 🙂 ) CJ will be posting her writing process next Sunday so make sure to check her site out and read how her challenge is going.
2) Little Write Lies: This is my new friend, Taylor Eaton’s blog. I met Taylor through Twitter and CJ. She’s funny and bright and incredibly talented. She writes flash/micro fiction and has won awards and accomodations for some of her work. She has been published at Apocrypha and Abstractions and other online sites. Her story We Danced is an incredible piece and completely worth checking out.
3.) Books By Sherrill S. Cannon: Sherrill is a lady I met through Ebay. I bought some dolls from her and we began a friendship through that. Sherrill was just beginning writing her children’s book at the time. My younger kids love her books and Sherrill is just the nicest lady you could ever meet. Sherrill is very passionate about helping the CureJM Foundation (Juvenile Myositis). Head over to her site and check that out, and go pick up one of her children’s books if you have kids.
So, that’s pretty much my process. Writing is hard. Ernest Hemingway said that all you have to do is sit at a typewriter and bleed. That’s the truth of the matter. Writing requires you to cut yourself open and bleed out what is in you until there is no more. One of the ideas I’m discovering people have about writing is that when you tell someone you are a writer they are going to think one of two things: you’re either an intellectual and very smart, or it requires no skill whatsoever and anyone can write. Both are true. Anyone can write, but it takes practice and some skills to be able to write well. But, as I gleefully discovered Friday night, people are also going to be scared of you because you might write about them, or they are going to tell you all their stories so you can write about them. My friends might find themselves in a book someday; they should really think about that.
Lastly, some advice. If you wake up each morning and you have to write, then write. If you question whether or not you are a writer, check out this quote by Steven Pressfield:
Write. Write what is in you to write. Believe in what you write, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Some of what you write will be total crap, but don’t destroy it. Keep it. Some of it can be useful later and recycled and turned into gold. Find a writing group and get plugged into it. Surround yourself with people who understand what it’s like inside your writer’s brain. Be true to your writing, and don’t let anyone discourage you. And read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Read the classics, read popular fiction, read science fiction, read crap. You will become a better writer by learning from everything you read. And don’t ignore those voices in your head. You aren’t crazy. They are just characters waiting to escape into the world and be seen.