Friday, April 18, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Margo Kelly (check out her blog here) author of the upcoming novel Who Are You Really? and one of my critique partners, invited me to join in the My Writing Process Blog Tour!!! So, here goes... let's see if I can actually articulate my process...

The questions:

1) What am I working on?

I think the easier question would be, what am I NOT working on? As an author still in the process of trying to land herself an agent, I find it virtually impossible to resist indulging in any new idea that crawls into my mind and makes itself at home. Even ideas that I know intuitively won't end up being terribly marketable get a fair shot at being put on paper. I really feel very strongly that every single story you write betters you as a writer, even if it's a story that's never going to hit the shelves. That said, I do try to give the majority of my writing time to manuscripts that will hopefully get an agent to take a chance on me. Currently, I'm immersed in edits on my Contemporary YA, CATSKIN (formally Gone Missing Girl) which were brought on by receiving detailed feedback from not just a prospective agent, but also that agent's intern!!! In addition to these edits (and I *should* be sending chapters to Margo as well... but I've been delinquent recently) I'm working on a few projects that are just in the first draft stages. One is completely different, as it's a fantasy, but not YA. The other is YA (my true love) but I haven't settled on which sub genre it will fall under. Most likely paranormal, or magical realism. I'll have to wait and see how the story unfolds :) I've also got several manuscripts in various stages of editing, shelving, dusting off, possibly resubmitting, etc. It sounds super productive, but really, it's just that I'm only happy when I'm writing, thus, I write as much as I can.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmmm. Part of me would love to make a dark self-directed jab along the lines of how it apparently doesn't differ from others all that much, since none of it has landed me an agent. But I'd be selling myself short, despite that I'm still agent-hunting. For starters, the MC of Catskin is a six foot four albino guy named Ansel who lives in Healy, Alaska. Not many of those in current YA listings :)  I hope that one of the things setting my work apart from others is a mixture of unique characters, unique points of view, voice and the mix of humor and seriousness that I try to infuse into each story.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I began to write, I mean really write, when I was a freshman in high school. Now, that wasn't writing with any intention of ever being published, it was just writing because I had to get the stories out of myself. People would invite me to go out places and I would say 'No, I can't, I've got to write tonight.' Finally, my mom took me aside and said 'Honey you don't ever have to write. You can go out and do stuff with your friends.' That was when I understood I was a writer, and I just hadn't realized it yet. I am the most happy when I'm pouring stories out of myself and onto paper. The truth (which I came right out and said, once I understood how to articulate it) was that I *could* go out with my friends whenever I wanted, but for the most part, while I love my friends, I would rather be writing than going out in social situations. So, that, in a nutshell, is why I write to start with. As to why I write YA specifically, and why YA is what I want to make a career of writing, all has to do with that precarious borderland between childhood, and everything else. I was different from many kids growing up. I'm an identical twin, and as small kids, my sister and I would spend literally days out in the woods. We had each other, and we didn't care if we 'fit in' with any particular 'crowd' at school. Then when we were 8, my parents got us riding lessons at a place where you had to take care of the horses as much as ride them. Thus began a time of growth that involved other horse-kids, animals, working with nature no matter the weather, caring for ancient creatures even as they're dying, helping new babies grow up and all sorts of other things that didn't include television, technology, or popular 'it' crowds. So right there I got a toe into life that was outside the mainstream. Then at thirteen, we moved (to a place in the country, it was awesome) and I found my Dad's 'stash' of fantasy novels. I'd already read Tolkien and other fantasy works, too many to list, but these were Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms series, as well as several others. Those books changed me, and shaped the person I became, and that's what I want my books to do to other kids balancing on that cusp between childhood and everything else. I want to write things that some kid reads and by doing so, understands that they don't have to be like every other kid. I want them to read my books and realize that being different is awesome, and that the world can't change them if they don't let it. I don't care WHAT the 'mainstream' says, you don't have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend to be fulfilled. You don't have to go to college (though education is a great thing) or love a certain type of person, or look a certain way. You don't even have to grow up if you don't want to. Not in all the ways that matter. I'm perfectly capable of caring for my little niece responsibly, but that doesn't mean I'm going to pass up the chance to tie bread bags on my feet and play in mud puddles, just because I'm a 'grownup'. There's a huge difference between being responsible and mature, and being so consumed with 'acting like an adult' that you lose sight of all the things that make life fun. Kids nowadays are so pressured to conform that they're too afraid to be happy, if happy falls outside the defined edges of expectations imposed on them. And the worst part, is that those perceived expectations are complete hogwash, but kids don't understand that until years later, and then many of them never try to reclaim the people they were before they gave up and stuffed themselves into type of person they felt like they had to be.

4) How does my writing process work?

I am a panster. I've said it, and it's true. There are times when I sit down and list out characters and points, but for the most part, when I write, I throw it right out on the paper without obsessing over the details. I'll get an idea, but instead of immediately jotting stuff down like many other writers, I do nothing. I mull and mull and chew like an unknown species of ruminant, regurgitating plot lines and characters and devouring them again until the first line rises up inside me. Then I start writing. With a pen. On paper. Yeah, I still do that. There is just something so satisfying about writing on paper. I'm a scripturient. Yes, it's a real word. Look it up, and know that I am that word. Seriously, it'll be inked on me eventually.

Anyway, usually, the more I write on a story, the more clear the details become. Now, it is true that you're much better off knowing where your story is going when you start it. Despite being a panster, I do, almost always, know how the story will end, even if I don't know exactly what will happen, or how the characters will get to that point. Once I'm writing, I'll make supporting documents, not quite outlines, but lists of points and markers, details about characters, or if there is a magical system or different world, facts about it.

So there you have it. Me, in four small questions, and big longish answers! Now, let me introduce you to the next three lovely authors on the tour!

First up, Rebecca Fields!

Rebecca Fields is a modern gypsy, roaming from place to place in search of – well, she’ll let you know when she finds it. Writing has become a way for her to share her adventures, both real and imagined. When she’s not planning her next move (okay, even when she is), she’s busy writing, reading or playing… ahem… networking on social media sites.

And the lovely Shveta Thakar!

Shveta Thakrar is a writer of South Asian–flavored fantasy, social justice activist, and part-time nagini. She draws on her heritage, her experience growing up with two cultures, and her love of myth to spin stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames. When not hard at work on her second novel, a young adult fantasy about stars, Shveta makes things out of glitter and paper and felt, devours books, daydreams, bakes sweet treats, and occasionally even practices her harp.