4 Secrets from My Writing Process

Frog in ForestToday’s post is part a Writing Process Blog Hop I was invited into by one of my favorite bloggers, Jon Simmonds over at Jumping From Cliffs.

As part of the Hop, I’m answering four questions about my personal writing process and then passing the baton on to four other bloggers who contribute tremendously to the creative writing blogosphere.

Here’s my take on my (mostly) private writing life:

What are you working on?
At the moment I’m in the first round of edits on my fourth novel. It’s the story of a Metalhead kid in the 1980s who lives in a Michigan trailer park with his schizophrenic father. His father’s issues stem from his time in the Vietnam War, where he lived on the lunatic fringe and fell in love with a dead girl. The story is really about the kid’s relationship with his father, and how we are all intertwined with certain people in order to fulfill a contract with them, whether we like it or not.

I’m also writing my fifth novel, which is still in the very early stages, and I make it a rule not to talk about early-stage work.

How does your work differ from others in the genre?
My work is definitely transgressive. Traditionally, it’s a very male realm. For instance, Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk are two of the giants of transgressive fiction in popular culture, but most casual readers would be hard pressed to come up with the name of any female transgressive authors. The more determined reader can dig deeper and find phenomenal work by women like Kathy Acker (Blood and Guts in High School) or Alisa Nutting (Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls), but the fact remains that when you’re looking for work by these kinds of female authors, you always have to do a little digging. You can try it for yourself. Google “female transgressive writers” and you’ll see what comes up. The second Google result is Chuck Palahniuk, in fact.

So I guess the fact that I’m a woman, and I’m writing about things like sociopaths and necrophilia, makes me an odd one out in an already odd genre.

Why do you write what you write?
My first three novels were all based on my life. I felt I had to write those three to “clean my creative pipes” so to speak after not writing for years and years. The next novel I wrote was pure fiction, as is the novel I’m writing now. With these two, the main character of each story showed up in my head one day and told me something about themselves that was kind of explosive. They then told me that they needed me to write their story so that they could explain the reasons behind the explosive thing they had done.

I definitely feel that I’m under “contract” with these characters to transcribe certain passages of their lives.

How does your writing process work?
I usually write once or twice a week. Once when I meet with my weekly writing group (which is devoted to an hour of silent writing) and then once on my own. I don’t plan my novels at all. I don’t use outlines and I steer myself away from any other sort of conscious planning. Throughout the week, I work with a character by letting them into my life and my headspace and then I observe what shows up. They usually tell me the next leg of their story, or show me in images, and then I record those pieces when I sit down to write that week.

And I’m now passing the baton on to these three talented writer friends, who I respect and admire beyond words:

Paul Sutton Reeves
Paul is a blogger after my own heart. He might be one of the few people I’ve met who loves literature more than I do. His blog is a dynamic mix of reflections on the realm of literary fiction, and musings on his own works-in-progress. If you love classic and contemporary literature, and you care deeply about the art of writing, this is definitely the blog for you.

I Make Stories. The Blog of K.M. Alexander
K.M. Alexander released his debut novel, The Stars Were Right, last year and his blog is an honest blow-by-blow of what it takes to write and publish novels and how he’s making it happen. He includes regular updates that show exactly where he’s at in terms of creative momentum, and extremely helpful reviews of products for writers and other creative types. K.M. is the one who introduces me to the new and innovative in the writing world.

Writingeekery by MJ Bush
MJ covers craft, character, and all the layers in between. She describes her blog as “dedicated to exploring the layers that fiction writing entails. The whole human experience is entwined in our craft. Writingeekery is a safe place to dive deep into your learning process. It embraces that there is always more to learn.” I couldn’t agree more, and I urge every writer to put Writingeekery on their must-read blog list.

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