One of my favorite parts about being a debut author is being initiated into the world of working writers. I have uncovered a realm beyond my imagination, where fellow authors hang out in chat rooms and talk about all things writerly and in which experienced, successful writers generously share their information and contacts. Probably my favorite example of the latter so far has been Lyn Miller Lachmann, author of GRINGOLANDIA and the forthcoming SURVIVING SANTIAGO who has been kind about championing THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY early and often.
Recently, she tapped me to be a part of the My Writing Process Blog Tour, in which I answer four questions about my writing process and then tap two other writers to do the same next week. You can read Lyn’s answers by clicking here.
Below are mine:
1. What am I working on?
Right now I have two projects that I’m working on simultaneously. They’re both contemporary YA, like my first novel, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY. The one that is further along is as yet untitled and it’s about a girl who falls in love with the wrong guy and experiences bad cyberbullying fallout as a result of it. The other is tentatively entitled QUINN and is the story of a minor character in THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY. It’s funny, because Quinn was sort of an add-on character and not a particularly likable one at that. She isn’t especially nice to TSSoE’s protagonist, M.T. and M.T. doesn’t like her. However, when all the editing of TSSoE was over, the one character who still kept coming back to me was Quinn. She’s got a pretty interesting story to tell.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I feel like this is really for others to say. To me it differs because it’s the only thing I can write. No one’s got exactly my set of experiences or my worldview, so no one writes quite like I do. (And I don’t write like anyone else).
But if I had to pinpoint it, I would just echo what readers are telling me. THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY is different because it deals with an issue most people don’t usually cover in their writing. And it probably has a distinct voice too – a bit cynical, a bit hurt, the voice of an outsider and a survivor.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Ultimately, writing is about curiosity. You create stories about topics that interest you. I write what I do because the topic somehow fascinates me, intrigues me, sort of “picks” at me until I pay attention. My first novel, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY, is about immigration and alienation, two topics close to my heart and very much a part of my experience. My next book is about falling in love with the wrong person and missing the signs because you so very much want to be in love. QUINN is about picking up the pieces after loss. These topics all speak to me.
4. How does your writing process work?
I feel like I’m writing all the time, even when I’m not writing. Sometimes I’ll just be walking along and a scene will be writing itself in my head. When I finally get to my computer I can write it down pretty much like I just had been “hearing” it. In terms of time actually spent in front of the computer, I don’t know that I have a process. I wish I wrote more. But I’m a single mom with a lot of responsibilities, so I fit in writing when I can. I try to write a bit early every morning before the hustle and bustle begins, then again late at night when everyone is in bed. My blog has been a great discipline for me. I write just about every day, if even just a two line update of what’s going on with me or my book.
Coming back to the page every day reminds me that, most of all, I am a writer. Writing feels like the closest thing to flying for me. I don’t struggle with it. Sometimes I write something I love and sometimes I write something that I consider so-so, but I never have a hard time putting words on the page once I finally get myself to the page. I once heard someone say, “Plumbers don’t get plumbers’ block, cops don’t get cops’ block, so why should writers get writers’ block?”
I’m a grudging outliner. The anti-authority teenager in me thinks it stifles creativity. But the grown-up in me knows it helps to have a roadmap. There are times that I stray from it, but it’s always helpful to see where I’d intended to go and eventually find my way back.
It’s a thought that’s served me well. One thing I do wish is that I had more of a routine. I like to joke that when it comes to writing, I am a sprinter instead of a marathoner. I go on writing benders and then sometimes spend weeks without writing anything. I’d like to even that out. But whatever writing I do makes me joyously happy. I don’t get the “tortured artist” writers. How can you complain about writing? I can’t think of anything more freeing than finding the words for the things in your heart.
So that’s it! Be sure to check out the other author Lyn tapped for this week’s entries. I just discovered Meghan Nuttall Sayres through Lyn but I’m already fascinated by her website. (You’ve got to love someone who labels herself “Author/Tapestry Weaver”). Plus the images on there are amazing. Click here to learn about her.
And stay tuned for next week’s entries by two of my fellow 2014 debuts, Mary Elizabeth Summer, author of TRUST ME, I’M LYING. Click here to see her awesome website.
My second “tap-ee” is Rin Chupeco, author of the forthcoming THE GIRL FROM THE WELL, due out August 5th. Click here to learn more about her.