Rhonda Parrish, the wonderful editor of both Fae and Niteblade, has tagged me in a blog hop on process. Which is rather fortuitous, as I happen to love thinking and talking about process; I find the more aware I am of my own process, the more I am able to hone it and direct it. Writer, know thyself!
So without further ado:
1) What am I working on?
I’ve got three projects on the go right now:
–fine-tuning Talassio, my first novel, and making notes for its sequel (I wrote a draft some time ago, but it needs restructuring due to characters in Talassio deciding to do their own thing)
–a novelette tentatively called “Little Men with Knives”
–a novelette which I can only describe as “the olives and lemons thing”
There are several other short stories in various stages of writing, but I am studiously ignoring them . . . I am trying to break myself of a lifelong habit of tackling too many projects at once. So right now there’s the novel and its projected trilogy, and then there’s a story or two I can work on when I’m sick of the novel and its projected trilogy. It’s all I can manage at the moment.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hrmm. I don’t really have an answer for that, so I’ll try a different approach. Two of the reader responses I most often get are that my work is literary and my work is slow-paced.
I love slow fiction. I love lush detail and poetic language and fleshed-out inner lives, I like being able to linger in a moment. The stories I love are ones that utterly subsume me, not just with plot but with world-building, complex characters, philosophy and concepts woven in to the fabric of the story—what I think of as capital-S Story, a kind of all-encompassing empathetic act that pays as much attention to where, who, and why as what happens next.
I don’t think my work has yet reached the level of Story, but it’s what I’m striving for. Lately, though, it seems that the more I push my work in that direction, the more difficult it becomes to sell: “genre” magazines reject me for being too “literary,” yet “literary” magazines reject me for writing “speculative” fiction. It’s a frustrating position to be in—and yet when the acceptances do come, they are far more satisfying.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Like many others, I write the kinds of stories I want to read. I have favorite subjects that I have been revisiting for, oh, can I say decades now? The body, culture shock, systems of power and knowledge, the many forms love can take . . . But I also write out of anger: writing is a way to make my anger productive. Recently I was looking over the last few stories I’ve written, and I realized they share a common theme: women in lousy situations trying to seize/subvert power in order to gain control of their lives.
I don’t think I’m quite done with that theme.
4) How does my writing process work?
I try to write every day. On work-free days I get up, brew a cup of tea and feed the cats, and sit down at the computer, where I spend about half an hour looking at email etc. while I sort of submerge; once I start writing I try to keep at it for at least three or four hours. If I’m feeling blocked, I use Freedom and bribes to keep myself going, and I remind myself of rule #1: when it comes to getting the words out, anything is better than nothing.
When I’m going in to the office I bring pages to edit on the train and at lunch, or I do crits, or catch up on research for the novel. I’ve learned not to try writing fiction on office days; instead I write journal entries at night to clear my head out enough to sleep.
I used to be very precious about my writing—only when it moved me, late at night, just the right kind of music on, etc. It took me a long time to learn that if I really want to do this, I need to just write, as often as I can. Editing can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but it can’t do anything with a blank page.
Thank you, Rhonda, for giving me the opportunity to natter on! Please do check out the other Fae contributors that she tagged. I will be reading them all, and probably learning a few things as well!