Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘writing process’

Just an Innocent Question

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Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This Co-Hosts this month are: Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

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Just an Innocent Question

I was stumped on this month’s topic at first. I couldn’t think of a favorite or least favorite question about my writing. It turns out that I do have a least favorite question. Oddly enough, it usually comes from other writers. But what’s strange is that the question itself isn’t annoying – it’s my response to the question that gives me thought.

“What do you write?”

My face flushes. My tongues wraps around itself. My response is a garbled mess. I’m a writer. I work with words. You’d think that words would flow effortlessly from my lips.

Not so.

I stammer and become almost incoherent.

“Umm….everything.”

Obviously not everything. I don’t write horror. I don’t write erotica. I don’t write dystopian tales. I don’t write….

But, the list that I do write is even longer. Fiction. Nonfiction. Magazine articles. Blogs. Short stories. Novels. Children’s stories. Historical fiction and vintage tales. Contemporary fiction. Essays. Memoir. Family stories. And in my spare time, I’m dabbling with some middle-grade stories and plotting out my first cozy mystery.

I can’t imagine writing in just one genre or for one market. My crafting is all over the board. I weave, spin, sew, dye, knit (a very little), crochet, fuse glass, mosaic, make paper, garden, craft with garden products… I rescue cats and have had a menagerie of different animals over the years, including turtles, snakes, a chameleon, four llamas, turkeys, chickens, goats, a sheep… I read all over the board. (Except for horror. Stephen King’s fault. My son was two years old when I read Pet Cemetery and his rendering of the little boy’s death gave me nightmares for weeks.) My musical interests are all over the board, depending on the day and the mood. Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Rammstein, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Glen Miller, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Tom Jones, Enya, with some occasional Vivaldi or Pachelbel…

I’d be bored if I only had one interest or activity. So too, does my writing reflect my eclectic interests. I’d be bored to tears if I had a one or two-word answer to the question.

I want to retort back, “Don’t try to define me by what I write.”

Truthfully, they’re truly not trying to pigeon-hole me. They’re making conversation and trying to find some common ground.

So why do I get so defensive?

I think because at times I feel unfocused with my writing. I want to write so many things, try to do too much at the same time, and feel like I’m spinning out of control, not accomplishing what I want to in any one avenue. And I don’t like having someone else bring that to light – even if done unintentionally.

I also don’t like the feeling of being unprepared, lacking a coherent response to a legitimate question.

Since this is New Year’s Day as I write this, the first day of 2019, it’s the perfect time to reassess what I’m doing in order to mitigate the feeling of being unfocused and darting in a multitude of directions. It’s a good time to sit down and pick one major goal for each month to focus on. If the major goal is finishing up a historical short story collection, there will still be other minor stepping stones throughout the month, such as a children’s short story that needs to be submitted, or a query for a nonfiction magazine article. But similar to the thought of having a ‘Word for the Year’, I’ll have a ‘Focus for the Month’ and by doing this I can touch on several different bases throughout the year and feel I’ve made significant progress on each path.

As for the other problem, the one of not knowing what to say, that solution is easy. With our books, the experts recommend that we develop an elevator pitch for each one – one or two sentences that convey the essence of the book in a quick and easily practiced answer. That’s what I need to do here. Work on my elevator pitch. Develop an answer that delivers the information I want to share, in a quick soundbite that I can practice and have ready for the next time I’m asked.

Now that I can celebrate my first officially written 821 words of 2019, I’m off to go polish up a short pitch!

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My Writing Process

Today is “My Writing Process” blog tour day, when writers answer questions about their writing process. Last week, fellow author Sherry Gloag posted hers. You can check it out at http://sherrygloagtheheartofromance.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-writing-process-blog-hop.html

Sherry writes contemporary and Regency romances. Many thanks for the invitation, Sherry.

What am I working on?

writingWhat am I NOT working on? In true Gemini fashion I am not content to write in one genre. I have too many WIP’s. Remaining focused and seeing a project through to completion is something I keep striving towards.

Adult Fiction: In adult fiction I have two stories underway, each about half done. Fat and Sassy follows the life of Bea Jones from 1942 to the end of her life in 2003. Calico Connections is set in 1934 in a small farming town.

Adult Non-Fiction: An eBook, Memory Gardens, is in progress and should be released in February. Writer’s Zen and Planting Carrots get periodic additions. I’m also interviewing for a future book (definitely not in 2014), Mothers of Angels.

Young Adult: The Itty Bit’s is completed, but hasn’t found a home yet. Prissy and Paige is in progress, the story of two 14-year old girls that accidently travel back in time to 1901 and help a fascinating woman, Anna Edson Taylor, with her dilemma.

Children’s Stories: Mischievous Mark, Cartwheel Katie, I Wanna and I Want to be a Sweater … completed and out there searching for homes.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I often joke that I don’t ‘see dead people’, I write about dead people. It’s true. A large portion of my writing projects are about people no longer living. Fat and Sassy and Calico Connections are largely based on women who have died. Anna Edson Taylor finds her way into one of my YA manuscripts. Mittie Ann Medlin, who died in 1850, sneaks into blogs and stories. Mittie Ann’s sister, Sarah Medlin, found her way into a short children’s story, Sarah’s Journey, as did sisters Katherine and Marjorie Stinson, in Sisters with Wings.

Why do I write what I do?

writers pillowFor the longest time I was unable to answer this question. I had no idea why these people from the past would enter the recesses of my brain and refuse to leave until I wrote their story.

Reading Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Stories, I saw the words penned by Carol LaChapelle, “… that people die twice: when they physically die, and when we stop telling stories about them.”

Then I knew. I write these stories to keep them alive. Why I’m drawn to certain people from the past – I don’t know. I just know that there is a desire within me to honor these women from the past – helping keep their memories alive.

How does my writing process work?

I don’t search for story ideas, they seem to find me. Alas, story ideas flow in quicker than I can get them written. And the newest ideas always seem the shiniest and most exciting. Thus, the partially written stories and older ideas get relegated to the back burner where they languish, sometimes for years.

Hopefully 2014 changes this. My desire for this year is focus and completion. Check back with me in December, and we’ll see how successful I’ve been.

Sometimes a phrase will catch my attention and a whole story develops around it. Sometimes an overheard conversation is the catalyst. Mittie Ann was from a headstone I ran across in Texas. Annie Edson Taylor was discovered in research I was doing in Chase’s Calendar of Events. Calico Connections came from a set of quilt squares I discovered in a yard sale. Photos in a magazine … news articles … inspiration comes from endless sources.

I have a general outline in mind when I start setting the story to paper. I may have some specific scenes in mind. But I definitely run closer to the ‘pantster’ end of the spectrum instead of the ‘plotter’ end.

I generally write from start to finish without much jumping around. Although, I’m in a fun group of talented writers, Tuesday Tales, which writes to a different word prompt every Tuesday. I’ve discovered that when I’m writing to these prompts I jump around in the story a bit, working on different scenes that will accommodate the weeks prompt best.

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I was to find three authors to post next week telling you about their writing process.

Unfortunately, my initial contacts didn’t want to proceed with this post. My ‘pay the bills’ job scheduled their inventory last week, at I ended up with 12-14 hour days and when I dragged my aching legs and tired behind home, I simply didn’t have the energy or mental reserves to sit on the computer and search out three more willing authors. I apologize to Sherry Gloag and the rest of the ‘My Writing Process Blog Tour’ for failing to find three people willing to pick up the pen and continue the quest from my end.

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