The other week, in the midst of some serious procrastination about packing boxes, I was musing to myself about topics for upcoming blog posts. Should I write an ode to op shops? Maybe I could try and photograph some of my Delightful Dozen makes? Or perhaps I could finally respond to a fellow writer who had tagged me in a writing post a little while back?
And by ‘a little while back’ I mean ‘July’.
When Danielle asked me if I’d be OK with being tagged in this writers’ blog tour of sorts, she said she wouldn’t put a deadline on it because that seemed too pushy. At the time, I almost said a deadline might be a good idea because most writers don’t get their act together until the deadline is a couple of hours away (and that’s only if we’re feeling organised). Little did I know how true my words would have been.
In case you didn’t know, when I’m not knitting or op shopping or dreaming up my next sewing project or photographing random fungi or going on roadtrips with the Chef, I write. Or, frequently, procrastinate about writing. Danielle asked me to talk a bit about how that all happens (when it actually does), so here you go: a peek into my writing processes.
What am I working on at the moment?
As with Danielle, I had a HUGE dry spell in my writing after I finished uni. It’s an awful situation when the thing that has defined you suddenly deserts you. When I was at uni, there was an ever-present pressure to conform to a particular genre and it was not one I liked. I just wanted to write stories; I didn’t want to be told I could only write a particular style of story if I wanted to be taken seriously.
Then I decided give NaNoWriMo a proper shot in 2013 and in the madness of just writing, I re-ignited that love of words. Although, believe me, that love frequently disappeared when said words refused to flow or characters misbehaved. I had another shot at NaNo in 2014 and didn’t quite make the 50,000, although I decided not to feel disappointed with ‘only’ writing 45,000 words. This is the project I’m still working on now. When I began, all I knew was I wanted to write a story with orphans and magic in a Dickensian setting.
Then things happened.
It was all going along as planned (in as much as I had a plan) until I decided I’d like to switch it to a sci-fi setting. At first, I thought I’d just make the switch, then go back and fix the beginning later. And then I thought no myself: No, I’ll make this switch part of the story.
And that is when I fell in love with the story. I still have no idea where it’s going but I’m doing my best to have as much fun as possible with it.
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
This is tricky to answer because I’m not even sure what my genre is. Ever since uni, I’ve been rather disillusioned by the whole concept of genre. Yes, it makes it easy to navigate bookshops and to go straight to the books that you know you’ll like, but it also makes it easy for certain genres to be regarded as worthless.
I’ve always tried to approach my writing in a visual sense – more as though I’m directing a television series than writing a book – so perhaps that’s the way in which I differ. That’s exactly what my current project feels like: a television series comprising an assortment of episodes. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try so I’m glad I’ve finally found the right story for this particular experiment.
Why do I write or create what I do?
Here’s a confession: sometimes I don’t want to write because it feels too much like hard work. Danielle confessed much the same thing in her post, which actually lifted a weight off my mind. I’ve always worried that I was a fraud as a writer because I wasn’t always enjoying the process. That’s not to say I never do, because that would make me some sort of crazy masochist, but sometimes writing is a huge effort and it’s easier to pretend it isn’t there. So it was lovely to read those words – it made me feel a little less alone and a little less weird.
Essentially, I write stories because I don’t want to see words go to waste. Plus, my imagination is always running riot in my head, so it’s probably a good idea to get some of that creative mayhem out of my head and into a nice, contained story.
How does my writing/creative process work?
Danielle mentions how she enjoys boundaries and I must agree – it feels that creativity goes into overdrive when you set down limits. My favourite writing assignments at school were usually the ones that had a strict word limit or started with a mandated opening line. There are always implications and expectations implicit in that sort of thing and I love subverting those and turning them around until they fit what I want to write.
Generally, I write from beginning to end, although I have a side project where I’m experimenting with just writing scenes and snippets as they occur to me. I’m not entirely sure if that’s going well, but I’m enjoying the opportunity to just skip to the bits I really want to write. This is definitely something I’m embracing in my main project, too: if a scene is boring me, then it’s clearly time to cut it short and skip somewhere new and interesting.
My cats consider themselves a vital aspect of my creative process.
They’re not always right, especially when they plonk themselves on my lap with a head on my keyboard. I had a little ‘desk bed’ (it’s just a folded-up towel) set up on my desk in my old house, but they always considered this poor second to a lap and a keyboard. Or a hand, which is often my cats’ favourite pillow.
I use Scrivener to write and I recommend it to everyone. When it comes to editing, I love to scribble all over print-outs rather than do it on screen. Somehow, that feels more satisfying to me.
A Little Extra
Writing is responsible for introducing me to some of my best friends, thanks to a huge collaborative writing project we came to call ‘LorF’. It was so much fun creating this huge world of stories with these people – so much fun that I will always recommend that you try a collaborative writing project at least once in your life. As writers, we generally crave an audience and LorF came with a ready-made and eager audience. There are times when I wish it was still going and that we could share it with more people.
So that’s a little glimpse into my writing process, such as it is. I’m going to tag Bonita of Lavender & Twill and Gillian at Medical History to answer the same questions about their writing process. If anyone else reading this is a bit of writer, please feel free to consider yourself tagged, too – I’d love to know if you write and to peek into how you go about it.