Posts Tagged With: Jack White

My Writing Process Tour

First, I’d like to thank Jocie McKade for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour. You can check out other writer’s blogs and follow the tour on Facebook at #‎mywritingprocess‬ and on Twitter at #mywritingprocess.

I have to admit I was thrilled and nervous when asked to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour. As I get further into this world as a published writer, I still get overwhelmed at how vast the world is and how small I feel in it. I’ve been writing for what feels like 30 years and have only been able to call myself published for the last 8 months. Comparing myself to other writers with multiple books feels awkward and undeserving. Yet, the further I advance in the publishing world, the more wonderful people I’m meeting, all whom remind me we all have to start somewhere. I still allow negative thoughts to take over in regards to simple things: Am I good enough to participate in a blog tour? Do I have something worthy to add at this point in my career? Do I even have a fan base to make a difference? Will anyone even read this? I suppose there may be a few. But it’s for the few that I write this and it’s for the few that I always express my gratitude for following my little world.

It should come as no surprise that I am currently working on a novel. As of yet, I haven’t settled on a title other than The Heiress. I was told by a writing prof that I should avoid one word titles. However, when no other title will do, you have to stick with what feels right. When I finish it, we’ll see if anything pops out to me. The story is about a young woman who gets caught in a baron’s war in England, only to discover she has important ties to Scotland and her lineage is tied to the Scottish War of Independence. That’s it in a nutshell. A nutshell that currently has 130,000 words behind it, 3 years of writing and a nutshell that is only halfway done. Sometimes I feel there will be no end. And then I remind myself that J.K. Rowling claims it took her 5 years to write the first Harry Potter. Perhaps I am on track after all. But I’d rather take my time than rush through with subpar writing. I want to present the world my best work in the end.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? That’s a really good question and I hope to have a logical answer in the future. I’m not really sure what genre it’s going to fit in right now. The heart of it is historical fiction. I’ve spent months and months (and years when you get down to it) pouring over history books – both scholarly and peer reviewed publications – to set my characters in the right years, situations, and political climate to make the plot as hole-free as possible. I’ve studied 13th century horse breeding, clothing, food, drink, marriage customs, castle maps, land configurations, language and church law to ensure the least amount of anachronisms. The story is history. Yet, at the same time, it is a love story. It’s about human connection, human nature and the psychological implications imprisonment and death has on the mind and shapes a person into who they are. Although the story has sex, it’s not sexually driven. I am using all of the craft I learned as a literary fiction writer to write something that can’t be pigeonholed as genre fiction. So, what do you call something like this? I have no idea. I have a feeling it will be too long for romance, and some scenes too sexy for historical. Where it will land, I’m not sure. I’m sure when I start presenting it to publishers, maybe I’ll have a better idea or be lucky to find someone who will guide me in the right direction.

In regards to why I write what I do? I suppose it has to be my love of history. The first book I ever read was the Little House on the Prairie books. History settings have always been simple. They are more focused on human interactions rather than the distractions we face in modern society. Characters are more in tune with each other than their electronic devices. Campfires and candlelit rooms create a more enticing ambiance than a hectic boardroom or a disco. When characters travel together, it’s for days, rather than a short plane or train trip. When they make promises, they are kept. And romance and love is an act to be savored, rather than rushed. Courtly love and chaperoned dating brings more anticipation and appreciation than a quick hookup at the club. I typically don’t even read contemporary. It bores me very quickly. But give me a book that presents me a world I’m not familiar with and I savor every word and interaction. That’s what I want to bring to readers. Something they haven’t seen before and a world that they can call their own because it’s one they don’t live in everyday.

As to how my writing process works? I want to answer with a loud guffaw! It changes every time. When I was in my teens, I wrote by hand because I didn’t have a computer, just a word processor (yes, I’m that old). In my twenties when I came up with an idea, I committed it to memory and wrote strictly on the computer. If I had an idea, I simply thought about it, what I wanted to accomplish with it and then wrote it. I had a 104,000 word fan fiction piece I did that way. In my late twenties when I decided to write a screenplay, I realized I need to be more organized. For the screenplay, I actually created a scene by scene outline, wrote a lot by hand because that’s the only way I could do it while working, then wrote my scenes with a screenwriter program. When I got into short story writing, I spent a couple days brainstorming the idea, made some notes and typically wrote it on a computer with very little handwriting. That process changed again when I started working on the novel. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: the novel is a beast. After 2 months of initial research I wrote an outline that was 98 pages long. In other words, it was 36,000 words. It was extremely detailed. Every scene, every chapter, a lot of dialogue and every plot twist, plot hole and transition was ironed out in painstaking detail. Some think that’s crazy, but that’s how my mind worked it at the time. Now all I have to do is write out my paragraphs, rework the dialogue and fill in on what I wanted the chapter to do. I add my craft to fill in what is needed. It’s still a long process, as I’m 3 years into it and only half way done. I have maybe an hour to write a day. Somedays I get a few pages, some days several. I am often asked by other writers about how to get started. I honestly don’t know what to say. I know what works for me. When I mention a 98 page outline, a shocked, blank expression usually follows. So, I tone it down and simply suggest a notebook to get your thoughts out. My second piece of advice: write every day. Whether it’s a word, a sentence, a paragraph or a chapter, do it every day. It’s the habit that you have to build. If you have the habit, the story will get written. I’m reminded of an interview of Jack White by Conan O’Brien regarding how does Jack write so many songs. His answer was simply: create every day. I took it to heart and printed up a little sign and stuck it to my computer. CREATE EVERY DAY. Some days will be great, some days will be shitty. But you have to do it to know the difference. If you have the patience, an end will come. Expect to take a while. See it through to the end. Every writer will say it’s hard. If the only compliant you have is that it’s too hard to do it, you’re not meant to be a writer.

I hope someone out there finds what I write is interesting and brings to them a little more knowledge about the writing process. It’s never easy, by a long shot. Writing is solitary and lonely. My friends know this. I have missed social gatherings and dates because I have to get something written. My hands and fingers hurt at the end of a particularly productive day of writing. My back and shoulders hurt because I forget proper posture when I’m sitting at my computer. My eyes hurt from staring at one word on my computer screen, pondering for 20 minutes if that’s the right word to make the sentence say what I’m intending. When I walk away from the computer at night, I feel pins and needles in my legs and feet because I’ve been sitting down for hours on end. It’s not easy. But nothing you have a true passion for ever is.


To wrap this up, I want to send another thanks to Jocie McKade for inviting me again. Until next time, cheers and Sláinte!

Wendy

Up next:
Ray Dean was born and raised in Hawaii. Working in live theater led her to the delights of living history and from there it was a slippery slope to creating her own worlds. Find her blog at www.raydean.net.

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