The Dilettante Writer (#mywritingprocess Blog Tour)

canstockphoto13096454It was a happy coincidence that my friend and fellow writer, Bill at Pinklightsabre’s Blog asked if I’d like to participate in a blog hop/tour/thingamajiggy at a time when I was trying to build up a little more writing steam. It provided me yet another distraction and like any good writer, I jumped at the opportunity to write about writing rather than actually do any work writing. Bill is an engaging blogger and I often read his short, but powerful posts thinking “How does he do that?” Thanks, Bill!

I’m not usually game for blog chain letters, but when I saw some of my favorite blogging buddies doing it, including Ross over at Drinking Tips for Teens, I thought I’d give it the old college/grad school dropout try.

It starts off answering four questions about a writer’s process and project:

1)     What am I working on?

I am dragging myself back to the novel draft I wrote for NaNoWriMo in November 2012. I started a second novel, but the compulsive finisher in me kept being distracted by this unedited binder of slush.

I am slogging through Phoenix Rock page by grueling page. I started out with the lofty goal of writing about the effect of alcoholism on a single family and by the 3rd chapter, was completely bored. So, people started dying. By the end of the book, there was murder, secrets and betrayals. It turned into a soap opera.

As I have the attention span of a gnat, I’m also writing short stories in the hopes of re-launching another blog focused on fiction.

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

It doesn’t. Like most writing, the story has been told in a thousand different mutations. It’s just the author’s voice that shapes it differently. So, it’s my voice – one that I am still working on each time I write. What’s authentic, what is worth saying?

3)     Why do I write what I do?

The first novel for me is a stereotype – I have to get it out, so that I can move onto more creative endeavors. It is not based on my life, but it is certainly about the experiences many people have had in families destroyed by addiction. It’s my angry inner child working out issues.

The blog writing I do is about immediacy – whatever weighs on my mind or has piqued my interest at the moment. I started a blog to establish a writing habit and it still serves that purpose, but it has also helped me find a voice and pacing that suits me.

4)     How does my writing process work?

Initially, as a writer, I felt like a failure, because I didn’t write consistently. I still don’t and maybe that’s another good thing I’ve learned from blogging. It doesn’t work for me to write every day, not for my schedule or for my creative flow. Things have to brew in my head and I’ll think about a subject or phrase over the course of several days before writing about it. I’ll carry it with me in the garden or at the grocery store or while I’m running.

According to the advice, I go about everything ass-backwards. I edit while I write. I will work one sentence over and over until the rhythm or words roll the way I like them. A blog post rarely gets published with under 25 revisions. It’s part compulsive perfectionist, but also an absolute love of language. I read paragraphs aloud to see if the rhythm is natural and if the words easily convey what I’m trying to say.

I also like economical writing. This has made editing a novel very difficult. I know how to tell a story and how to tell it quickly, but I need to meander a bit more and flesh out characters and scenes with more detail. It’s my running joke that you could read my entire novel and have no idea what a single character looks like.

Writing is how I understand the world around me, so nothing ever gets written without me learning something. And that’s at the heart of my writing process.

It is a great honor to pass this blog tour torch onto two writers in the blogosphere. They will be posting about their own writing processes next week.

Meet, if you haven’t had the pleasure already, Helen Kuusela (aka Tiny) from Tiny Lessons Blog.

Helen spent her early years in Finland and Sweden where she earned her Master’s degree in canstockphoto14986248management. Her career in international development took her and her family to countries on several continents. During her eight years in Africa, she fell in love with the continent, its people, rich culture, nature and wildlife. She enjoyed adventures in the wild as a “weekend safari driver” and became a musician, presenting traditional African songs along with African musicians in each country where she lived.

In mid-1990’s she settled in the US and now lives with her family in Florida, where she also runs an international consulting practice.

Despite her successful career writing articles, white papers and research publications/books on organizational management and human resources, she always held onto the dream to “just write” – stories, poetry and even novels. Starting a blog in  July 2012, she connected with other writers, new and established in the blogging world, which gave her the inspiration and courage to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2013. She to wrote her first novel, Confessions of a Rescue Dog, which was published in February 2014. It’s a heartwarming story about a rescue dog, a treat for pet lovers of all ages. She is currently working on a poetry collection and a novel inspired by her years in Africa.

Blog link: www.tinylessonsblog.com

Book blog link: www.firdemontepress.com

Links to some of her favorite posts:

About writing: http://tinylessonsblog.com/2014/02/09/omg-he-did-it/

About blogging: http://tinylessonsblog.com/2012/07/20/blog-around-the-clock-a-poem/

About wildlife/travel: http://tinylessonsblog.com/2012/08/13/chasing-queen-elizabeths-elephants/

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And meet my fellow struggling writer, Amy Reese from amyreesewrites. She’s got a short story habit. The End.

Okay, maybe not that short.

Amy likes to write stories that have a supernatural element, where fantasy and reality intersect and sometimes collide. She owes her love of reading to her mother who has been like her own private library, providing her with a constant source of great books. She has said she has never disliked a book recommended by her mom. On her blog, she explores different genres and focuses on the craft in the pursuit of writing that is fluid, seamless, and consuming, because being swept up by the words in a story is pure joy. Very soon, she will make a second attempt at writing her novel.

She is a Friday Fictioneer, which is slightly more dignified than my solo writing groups, the Saturday Slugs and the Sunday Sloths.

Keep an eye out next week for Helen and Amy’s takes on their writing processes. Meanwhile, back in The Green Study, I will be pointedly ignoring my novel while losing again at Solitaire.

27 Comments on “The Dilettante Writer (#mywritingprocess Blog Tour)

  1. “Like most writing, the story has been told in a thousand different mutations. It’s just the author’s voice that shapes it differently.”

    My favorite writer is Christopher Moore. I really, really wish I were him and if I can’t get that, I wish I could write like him. But almost all of his novels are rewrites of classic novels. Fool is a retelling of Lear. Fluke is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Lamb is, well, the gospels – but like you say, it is how you tell the story and the voice you use to tell it.

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    • It would be impossible to come up with an original story, I think. I find if I read too much of one genre that I start hitting a lot of repetition and need to switch. Many years ago I read Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, which is also based on King Lear. That was when I began to think about how stories and themes are constantly repeated. Even with emerging science and technology, writers with imagination have already covered many ideas before they even existed.

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  2. All writers have a different method. I don’t write every day either, except on my blogs of course, and I don’t feel bad about it. I stopped editing as I write the first year I did NaNo because it slowed down the flow of the story – one of the hardest things I ever did. When I write blog posts I rarely edit except for spelling. I also like to let things percolate a while in my brain before I start writing – I’ve always done that and it works for me. Interesting to catch a glimpse into the workings of another writer’s mind. 🙂

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    • I like these posts on the writer’s process, because it does demonstrate the wide range of practices. I am an admittedly slow writer and finally came to terms with my own style and pace writing blog posts over the last couple of years. The novel – different beast entirely and I have not successfully mastered my “process”, but I’m learning!

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  3. I will check them out as soon as I get a little time!

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  4. Revisions, love of language and rhythm I understand too well. But my pursuit of humour made me enjoy the last line the best. Solitare forever!

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    • Yes, it’s the unfortunate quest of a lifetime, to be the queen of Solitaire. I’m pretty sure it will also be the cause of crippling carpal tunnel. But I’m going to tell everyone it was the writing.

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  5. It is good to hear about how other writers operate….. I have always been worried about “writing every day” ….. ain’t gonna happen in my life. I’m not even sure I want to write every day.
    I always enjoy your thoughts…. at least the ones you put in writing!

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    • Thanks, Ruth. It took me a while to understand the ebb and flow of my writing habits. Now that I know I won’t quit or give up, I’m content to be the tortoise in the race. I’ll get there. Eventually!

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  6. Nice…glad you decided to play along and fun to read about your process and project, truly. I’m thankful to be a friend of yours, Michelle!

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    • Admittedly, I felt a little cold coming out of the gate on this one. But I came out of the gate. That’s something at this point. Thanks for thinking of me for this blog tour – I really appreciate it, Bill. And a-writing we will go…

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  7. I edit as I write as well. Makes for slow going sometimes. But then, my writing process is rarely consistent from one time to the next, really. It depends what I’m writing. I think my output conveys my multiple personalities/writing processes.
    Funny about the blank-faced characters. I know what you mean.

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    • I fought the edit-while-writing habit for awhile, but in some ways, it feels like gardening – working the soil until something grows right. And like a garden, it takes a long time to get it established. The only time I don’t edit (and the time when I most should) is when I’m fired up about something. Those are essays, posts and letters I return to when I’m not so impassioned and I don’t show them to anyone!
      I’m still trying to make my android characters look like people. I realized that when I look at people, I notice tics and expressions and vocal nuances more than their actual appearance. It makes writing description rather difficult.

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      • Likewise. I find I’m describing expressions and, strangely, hand movement. I’ve found myself looking at strangers who could be a particular character and using their “look.” It helps a bit.

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        • I spend a lot of time sitting around at soccer practice, in school meetings etc. Normally these activities send me into some sort of stupor, but lately I’ve been forcing myself to write mental descriptions of people. Hopefully, it will show up in my writing. Or at least I’ll make a very good witness to a crime.

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  8. Thanks, Michelle *grabs torch and runs…* It’s a pleasure to read about your process and a comfort to know we all struggle through it at times. I laughed a bit when you described your novel as turning into a soap opera. I’ve had that feeling with stuff I’ve written. I think writing a novel takes a lot of patience, yes? I remember feeling bored with my story when I did NaNoWriMo 2012. That story is probably not going to resurface anytime soon. Thanks for including me in this tour. It’s an honor!

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    • You’re welcome, Amy. I did find it enjoyable to think about “my process”, although a tad self-indulgent. I can’t seem to shake the idea that I need to finish editing the first novel, so instead of resisting, I’m just going to work through it. It still might be a pile of slop, but I’ll feel better for the effort! I think the fact that it is difficult for me to do the re-writes is a great indicator that this is an area in which I have much to learn. I look forward to your post!

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  9. Great post Michelle! It’s amazing how differently the writing process works for each of us. Whatever the process looks like, the goal is to produce beautiful writing worth the reader’s time. Yours always does! I mean it.

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    • Thanks, Helen. That is what I’ve enjoyed about this particular “tour”. We can always read essays by well-established authors about their process, but they seem rather pat and polished. I like reading about new authors or those like myself, beginning writers. I look forward to reading your post!

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  10. Love this onward creative flow, Michelle, and all your writing insights. I believe I’m following Helen aka Tiny, and then there will be others behind me. That’s quite energizing to say the least.. Someone somewhere called this storytelling current the Goblin Wind. It’s good to be part of it.

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    • Thanks, Trish. I’ve been enjoying reading all the writing process posts. I think it also gives the sense, especially to struggling writers, that we are not alone. And that Goblin Wind? The sound of hundreds of people working to create beautiful writing. That’s pretty amazing, I think.

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  11. Pingback: My Writing Process – #mywritingprocess Blog Tour | Amy Reese Writes

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