My friend, the lovely and talented Silverleaf, invited me to participate in the blog tour, My Writing Process. I was also supposed to tag a couple of people to do the tour next, but my frantic work schedule obscured my memory, and I didn’t manage to do that part in time.
I first met Silverleaf at the speakeasy writing challenge. Her creative writing impressed me with its clarity and incredible use of imagery. Her blog, The Silverleaf Journal, which began as a journal for her thoughts on mid-life stress, is now a wonderful mixture of fiction, poetry, personal essays, and even photography. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that Silverleaf and I live in the same city! You should check out her writing process post once you’re done here.
Okay, so on to the questions about my writing process.
1. What are you working on?
Aside from trying to post to my blog at least twice a week (one fiction and one non-fiction post), I’m working on a novel called The Ending. It’s a post-apocalyptic/ dystopian story about a young woman, her dog pack, a fox hybrid named Silas, and the fate of humanity. The story examines several socio-political themes that are close to my heart and it also explores the differences and the similarities between conquerors and the conquered.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Well, I haven’t read everything in the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre, but I would say my Canadian perspective, especially on politics, differs from many stories in the genre. And I like to think that the world and the main characters I’ve created are unique.
As for my style, it tends to be concise but descriptive. I want my readers to see what I’m seeing inside my head. I want them to relate to the characters in a meaningful way. I believe you can accomplish that without writing pages of descriptions—but you have to choose your words carefully and deliberately. Sometimes, I agonize over a single word in a sentence until I find the right one to express exactly what I mean.
3. Why do you write what you do?
Because that’s what’s in my head, at least when it comes to my fiction. My characters come to me and then they harass me until I tell their stories.
In my non-fiction, I mostly write about the English language, because a) I love it; and b) I love sharing what I know about it with others.
4. How does your writing process work?
It depends on what I’m writing. With non-fiction, I usually choose a topic from one of my grammar and language books—or a topic from a reader. Then I do my research and decide on my format. And, if the topic requires examples, I also choose a theme (zombies, aliens, mythological creatures, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.). Then I make a cup of tea and write.
With fiction, if I’m responding to a prompt, I will let it percolate for a while, which can be anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days, depending on the deadline. For longer work, like my novel, I write character sketches and a sketch of the world the story is set in. Then I do an outline of the plot. My outlines are always in table format, so I can fill in scenes and other plot developments as they come to me.
The next thing I do is put on my running shoes and get on my treadmill. For me, nothing helps develop a short story or work out a plot issue better than running on the treadmill. In fact, if I’m stuck and can’t come up with an idea for a prompt that I want to respond to, 30 minutes on the treadmill will yield everything I need to write a short story.
After a quick shower, I make a cup of tea, sit at my computer, and write. When I’m finished, I edit. Responding to various writing prompts over the last couple of years has taught me the value of cutting out the extraneous stuff. Even if you thought that line was necessary when you wrote it, once the piece is finished you may discover that line is redundant or not really relevant to what you’re trying to say.
And that, dear readers, is my writing process in a nutshell. Thanks for reading!