This fun "chain letter" is going around writers' blogs: You answer 4 basic questions about your process and then tag some writer friends and then they do the same. I love reading about how other writers work. It's magic, starting with a blank sheet of paper and creating a world that makes you laugh or cry - and does the same to someone else, if you're lucky. I never tire of reading how people do that.
James I met through Literary Orphans when I had a story published there. He's one of their fiction editors and was guest editor for a special Irish issue. His short fiction is like nothing I've ever read. It's poetry and prose and memoir all squished together. It's sharp and sad and strange and lovely. My most recent favorite is this story. Earlier this year, he released a book of short stories called, Blood a Cold Blue. His work also appears in a TON of online and print literary magazines. Read his answers here.
I've known Louise since we were belting out Duran Duran together in Junior High. She writes humor mainly and for kids - which is apt since she now has ELEVEN of them. And homeschools to boot! Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I think of her. If she can find time, so can I. She also had a book come out earlier this year. By the Grace of Todd is about a boy whose room is so dirty, he finds a small colony of people there. Anyway she and I tagged each other simultaneously so she both tagged me and is being tagged by me below. Read her answers here.
On with it.
What am I working on?
I'm in flash fiction mode. I love stories that hover around the 500 word mark, and right now I can't get enough of them. I'm working on 3 stories with several more waiting in the shadows. They may shoot above 500 words, but for now, I'm trying to keep them little snapshots. I look at flash stories as post it notes to myself. Yes, they have to be stories, but for the writer, they can also be a tiny match that you carry around that holds a spark for a bigger story. I'm also working on a "tiny novel." To me, a tiny novel is told in short, sharp chapters sort of like the flash novels at Bartleby Snopes. Sort of. It's almost like a middle grade book but for grown-ups. And I like the phrase "tiny novel" better than "novella." The scenes are heavy on plot, heavy on poetry and short on words. I'm working on an old fashioned Gothic story that came from this idea and won't let me go. But I've made a few changes to the plot and now I'm trying it in "tiny novel" form.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think if I were publishing commercially I might be more worried about genre. As it is, I don't give it much thought. I tend to like stories about younger people but written for adults. I like coming-of-age stories because I think whenever we have any kind of epiphany or growth it comes from a loss of innocence. I like things that aren't quite possible but almost, but I don't think I'm a Sci-Fi or Fantasy or Absurdist writer. I like a chill with my stories though I'm not quite a horror writer either. And while I like to write about every day things and every day moments, I like there to be something extra there, too. An almost magic. I'd rather not write about mortgages and breakups. I'd rather write about a girl who falls madly in love with a carousel. Amost reality, but not quite.
Why do I write what I do?
We all get haunted by things. We all have images and ideas that just won't leave us alone and for whatever reason, we visit those things over and over and over. Our own personal iconography. For me it's cornfields and carousels and creek beds and abandoned houses and trailer parks and silver watertowers and laundromats and cemeteries and the woods because somewhere inside of me all of those things say "home" for one reason or another. They are echoes of my childhood. And I'm nostalgic. I'm always trying to get back to that time and to those things. So I write about the things that haunt me, as I think we all do.
How does my writing process work?
I write by hand every day. About everything. And from there images come up, memories emerge, and I find story ideas. I try out images there first and then type them up. I love using Scrivener because I write in fragments and then arrange them so it works perfectly for how I naturally want to write. After I type up the initial draft or fragment, I go back to my notebook and write all over the idea. I analyze, I audition scenes, I think and talk it out with the lines on my page. Then I take that and type up whatever I can add to the story. Some stories come out nearly whole and I don't have to cut them apart - I stay at the computer polishing and revising. Others are shadowy, and I keep going back to my notebook. The notebook to me is the safe place - the place where I can put anything down. Then the computer is more like the dress rehearsal on stage where I see how it would look for an audience.
And there you have it, my process.
Pamela Ramos Langley is the managing editor at Drunk Monkeys. I also met her through Literary Orphans. We hit it off when we realized we both share a love of the magazine Glimmer Train and a lot of poetry in our stories and have both acted. She's danced onstage with Chris Isaac, had a bottle of wine with James Coburn, shot a pilot for the Barbara D'Angelis show, and become profoundly lost while alone in Paris with a broken shoe! Her stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Literary Orphans, The Writing Disorder, The Story Shack, Hippocampus, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Elohi Gaduji and elsewhere. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and fantasizes that she’s progressing from aspiring to emerging.
Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD (Penguin/Razorbill Feb. 27, 2014). She and her husband live in the Midwest with their eleven kids and a parrot. When Louise isn’t writing or folding laundry, she directs her local children’s theater, where she’s playwright in residence.
And finally, my friend Amanda who is one of the fiercest writers I know. She works a demanding corporate job that supports her family and frequently takes her to Tokyo, Paris, Australia or various parts of the U.S. In her spare time, she writes fan fiction - like novel tie-ins - for her favorite shows. I've never seen a more prolific writer and she's pretty popular in a certain fandom. Her latest novel was over 200,000 words! And that's in addition to working 70+ hours a week and being a mom! She's also written her own flash ficiton, short stories and is hard at work revising her own novel. I'm always asking her about her process so I can't wait to see how she answers these quesitons.
Three very different ladies who all have a passion for writing. Check their blogs in the next week or so for their answers.