I’m one of those writers who suffer from a sort of imposter syndrome. I feel strange talking about how and why I write. It feels akin to narcissism. But examining the hows and whys behind the things you do can help you understand them better. So when A.B. Westrick graciously invited me to the “My Writing Process” Blog Tour, I decided to give it a go.
1) What are you working on?
I’m currently working on revising my 6th draft of a contemporary YA novel: Call Me Capulet. If I had to write a book flap synopsis, it’d go something like this:
If there’s one thing Janey Lawson knows, it’s that she wants to get out. Out of Auburndale. Out of Florida. She knows firsthand that getting stuck can do horrible things to people. After all, Janey’s folks got stuck with her and they’ve been screwed-up ever since.
Things have only gotten worse since the Recession hit. Money’s tight, her Dad’s gone AWOL, and her Mama’s coming unhinged. For now, she’s got her best friend Callie and her theater project to help her cope. If Janey can finish her portfolio and keep her head down, she might be able to escape for good.
But when Janey and Callie fall for the same guy, getting out gets complicated. And as Janey’s family falls apart around her, she’s not sure she has the strength to try.
This story has been my baby for several years now. I’m hoping to wrap it up and send it out to agents by early fall.
2) How does your work differ from others in its genre?
Lately, I’ve found myself fascinated by real places – especially those that are often overlooked by the rest of the world. I’m particularly fascinated by Florida and the parts of it only natives are typically familiar with. Not the touristy, beachy stuff, or things you’d find in Hiassen or Dorsey. I’m intrigued by the redneck territories, our circus and psychic towns, and state parks dedicated to mermaids. It’s not all flip-flops and Disney here. There’s so much people don’t see.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I’ve always been deeply moved and drawn to stories that deal in darkness. Don’t get me wrong: I love funny, happy, romantic romps, but I’m largely incapable of writing them. I’m intensely fascinated by stories of survivors, of people who look into the darkness within themselves and others but still find a way to come out intact (albeit, undeniably changed). When I was younger, I loved fairy tales and happily ever afters. These days, I like to explore characters who struggle to find contentment in the absence of such things.
4) What is your process like?
Writing is a very slow process for me, much like pulling a tooth. I can spend two hours painfully plunking out a meager three hundred words. This is probably because my stories are very emotional, which makes them hard to write sometimes. I always want my words to be honest and real.
Thankfully, I’m only working part-time right now, which allows me several hours of uninterrupted time. I tend to work best first thing in the morning, when things are cool and quiet. I do better when I avoid lots of noise and activity since I’m easily distracted, but I’ll occasionally succumb to the urge for an iced coffee with soy and stroll down to the local Starbucks.
I’ve also learned, thanks to NaNoWriMo, that I have to give myself goals and deadlines. Otherwise, my inner editor and perfectionist runs so wildly amuck I never get anything done. By giving myself a ridiculous, brakeneck deadline, it allows me to let go. To plow forward and silence my self criticism so I can actually move forward.
And now, I get to play tag with three other wonderful writers (all of whom are fellow VCFA alumni). Their posts will be going up April 14th as part of the tour. 🙂
Shawna Lenore Kastin is a poet, writer, translator, lover of mythology and folklore and Corsair in training. Her poems have been published in Mythic Delirium and Goblin Fruit. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and is currently working on an eerie and unwholesome novel.
Pamela Livingston writes in several genres, holding both a MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and a Picture Book certificate from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her articles have been published in local newspapers and online, and she is a reader for Hunger Mountain Literary Journal. Having been the buyer/manager of an independent bookstore and member of the ABA, Pamela holds a deep appreciation for the book business. As an adjunct professor of Children’s Literature at Dominican University of California, she works with education students on the application of literature in the classroom and is an active member of SCBWI. It was Pamela’s award winning research and academic journal publications in art history which propelled her first creative writing project for young adults and many of the stories that have flowed since.
Nicole Valentine holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently working on her middle-grade time travel novel, The Idle Tree. Her short story, “The Weeping Beech,” can be found in Oermead Press’ anthology, Chester County Fiction. Nicole was the Chief Technology Officer of Figment.com, an online writing and reading network for teens, recently acquired by Random House Kids. You can also find her speaking on the future of the book on the monthly Publishing Business Today’s Futurist Podcast.
What’s your writing process? Feel free to share and leave a comment!