My VCFA friend Rachel Lieberman invited me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour that is making the rounds in the blogosphere. So if any of you were wondering what my process looks like, here goes:
1) What are you working on? I am working on the same darn novel I have been working on for about five years now. It is a retelling of the Child’s Ballad “The Two Sisters” about a sister who drowns her younger sister out of jealousy over a boy. But I am telling it from the murderess’s point of view. And somehow in the process, it has also become a new version of the first novel I started but never finished about a welsh child who becomes the queen of the fey. Also, somehow, it has become about the pre-cursors to the French Revolution.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre? Well, I’m pretty sure I haven’t read any other novels for teens in which Jean-Jacques Rousseau gets a bit part. But also, I have an abiding fascination with science and philosophy and the history of ideas so those interests and questions and key idea-makers invariably find their way into what I write.
Additionally, I think I write about womanhood/the feminine in a different way from most writers. Menstruation, masturbation, rape, and child abuse all can be found in the project I’m working on right now. But my MC ends up as a pirate who robs the rich to save the poor Irish Catholics (so not really a victim). And I tend to include a lot of violence and tough issues, but they aren’t “issues” in what I write. They are part of life. And I feel like that’s different from a lot of literature for teens.
3) Why do I write what I do? I often walk around with this unbearable pressure in my chest because I feel like no one sees me or understands me. And for some reason, that makes me feel less real. I think I write to try to make sense of the world and because deep down I hope that someone someday will read my words and they will make sense to them and I’ll feel like I’m not alone in the world feeling lonely and confused and scared. I also write because I want to create narratives that will help kids who have struggled or are struggling understand their world and feel less alone in it.
4) How does your writing process work? Well, I get an idea and I get super excited and then I do nothing for 1-3months but write the first draft of that idea. Then I spend the next two years thinking that it’s complete and utter drivel and I sort of work on it (and every single day) but I never get anywhere and everything I write on it IS pretentious drivel. Then I put it aside and try to start something else. But that never works. So I pull it out again. And then I look at it and completely re-envision the project several times which re-invigorates me. So then I’m working again and regularly and it’s good. But as I approach the finishing line, I slow down and slow down until putting one more word down feels like an insurmountable obstacle. And that’s because my fear of letting other people see what I write and taking the chance that they will think I am a crazy, awful wackadoodle is even greater than my desire to connect with readers who might see the world similarly. Sigh.
So that’s what I’m working on and how I work. If you want to check out some other awesome folks processes, hop on over to my friend’s Rebecca Parish and Hilary Fields next monday. Both of these ladies are in my writing group here in Santa Fe, and they are both fabulous writers. Rebecca writes dark YA horror/fantasy set within native-american mythology. And Hilary’s recent novel Bliss is hilarious and about pastries and adult-toys. Hard to go wrong.