I was invited to take part in the “My Writing Process” blog tour by a fellow young adult fiction writer, Stuart West. (https://stuartrwest.blogspot.com) Stuart is the author of the Tex, the Witch Boy series of paranormal YA thrillers. He is something of a mentor to me, and easily the best published author I am personally acquainted with. Before you take me seriously, you should definitely check out his blog.
For this little exercise, I have to answer four questions, then invite three other authors to do the same. I’m a little slow on getting others to agree to this plan, but I am shameless when it comes to opportunities to talk about my own writing. I will post the three authors later this week, after I am done begging and bribing.
Step 1: Acknowledge the person and the blog site that invited you to take part.
As you can see, I’ve done that above, but here is the second mention; Stuart R. West . (https://stuartrwest.blogspot.com)
Step 2: Answer four questions about your writing process.
1) What am I working on?
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
3) Why do I write what I do?
4) How does your writing process work?
- What I am working on now is a story that is sequel-requel-prequel to my novel Catch a Falling Star. That means that it uses characters from that novel, a bunch of new ones, and some from other stories of mine as well to tell what happened before that novel, during that novel, and after that novel. Silly plan! Believe me, I realize that while sweating over re-quel details (a phrase that here means a retelling of parts of that novel – I do also realize I stole this particular conceit from Lemony Snicket). The book will be called The Bicycle Wheel Genius about a scientist who is a super-genius inventor trying to live incognito in a little Iowa farm town after leaving government service. He is trying to live down a family tragedy while at the same time befriending the boy next door, avoiding government agents and assassin robots, dealing with an alien invasion by invisible alien frog people, juggling time travelers, creating rabbit-men, and engineering old-fashioned high-wheel bicycles.
- How does my work differ? You have to ask? Unlike all the careful plotters, step-by-step writing crafters, and picky editor types out there, I put words and ideas in a blender, mix on the “Are you insane?” setting, and then let it all come pouring out into pages and scenes and chapters (although I call them cantos for some bizarre reason). I also have to admit that I base a lot of my characters on real people that I either grew up with in Iowa, or met over my thirty plus years as a mostly middle school teacher. And these stories have percolated in my head for twenty to thirty years. Did I mention already that I am not a person who thinks in straight lines? You can tell by the shifts, reverses, and loopty-loops in this paragraph that much of what I call humor comes from my purple paisley prose (a phrase which here means overly ornate, wordy, and down-right convoluted sentences and paragraphs). (Thanks again, Lemony).
- Why do I write it? Let me think. Could it be because teaching middle school students for too long leads to insanity, and if the insane are going to be useful in society, they have to do something at least mildly interesting for people who live in the real world? I mean, if I just sit in a room all day drooling and counting and re-counting my Pez dispenser collection, that wouldn’t be entirely helpful. Writing honors all the people I have known, alive and now departed, who touched my life and made a difference to my heart. It also helps me make sense of things that have happened to me over time and shaped me as person… hopefully a person you might like to get to know. And you can know a person through their writing long after they are personally worm food. How could I live without Mark Twain or Charles Dickens in my life, and both were dead long before I was born? And I know you’re going to ask yourself what makes me think that other people couldn’t live their lives better without knowing me? But don’t ask. I have developed a certain amount of wisdom over the course of my life, and I know I really don’t want an answer to that question.
- How does my writing process work? I have taught the writing process in the classroom so many times, that the only answer I am still sane enough to give is that everyone’s process is entirely different. I can, however, drop an insight or two on you. First of all, everything I have ever written is still a part of what I call Prewriting… with a capital P. Everything ever written can be rewritten and improved. Secondly, it is important to re-read what you write. I hate typos and mistakes in what is supposed to be “finished” writing. It is the reason I hate the entire experience of my first published novel, Aeroquest. That writing will never be okay until I have a chance to re-write it and re-tell it and re-everything it. Dang it. Thirdly, you must carefully consider who to allow to have input on your rough draft and re-worked copies. Even some professional editors don’t bother to try to see things in a way that reflects the fact that they care about what you have written. You need someone on your side to share it, and love it, and cherish it the way you do. Only that person will give you input that is worth listening to. Fourthly, if you reach fourthly your list is too dang long. And finally, publish it. Share it. Don’t put it away in a drawer for the mice and spiders to read when you are long gone.
So, Stuart, how did I do? I hope at least it proves what you have known all along. That Mickey guy writes like his hair is on fire and his pants are unraveling… in front of girls.
(Three writers to be named later will take up this same blog tour… I hope.)