It is by now a pretty popularly agreed-upon fact that I’m crazy. At least in my writing process (the rest I contest! ;)). So I’ve agreed to be a part of the #mywritingprocess blog tour today to give you the lowdown on how bad it is.
I was tagged by the lovely Christina Anne Hawthorne of Ontyre Passages. You can check out her blog and serialized fiction as well, while you’re at it.
Okay, you really want to know? Here goes.
What Am I Working On?
I’m working to put out 6 books of fiction this year: my second metaphysical novel Music of Sacred Lakes (just published), my first short story collection The Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen about portals between worlds (out in 3 weeks–doing publicity for that), my first contemplative fantasy novelette trio Permanence & Choice (publicity soon), a paranormal suspense novel about a possibly possessed ballerina Lone Cypress (editing that now), a psychological murder mystery Sonata & Fugue (editing soon), and a YA fantasy novel Face The Falling (also editing that soon). I have discovered in the last year that since I laid a good foundation for creative growth, through giving myself lots of time to be a beginner and learning everything I could from the process of writing and editing each book over the past 6 years, I am now working much more quickly than I could before. All these books mentioned above were written in the last year and a half. So, I am editing and publishing 6 books, I just wrote 2 more books last month, I just made the book covers for 3 books beyond that (guess I should write them then, huh?), and I have about 4 novels chomping at the bit in my head that I won’t think about yet because then I’d have to start writing them down. I’m hoping to finish editing novel #3 of the year in the next week, write 6 guest posts for other blogs, run the publicity for the two books I’m putting out this month and next, and then give myself August off (maybe) and free up the later part of the year to write 4 more books. So, yeah. It’s not one particular project so much anymore. It’s a bit of a free-for-all. But you’d be surprised how organized I am about it. Goal lists, to-do lists, spreadsheets. I was a copy editor and copy chief and professional blogger and journalist before becoming a writer, so I’ve got this whole thing color-coded. My right hand actually does know what my left hand is doing (clicking obsessively on the Kindle bestseller lists to check for my book, of course).
How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?
My work straddles the line between fantasy and literary fiction, so it’s different from most literary fiction in that it’s highly imaginative and spiritual. And it’s different from most fantasy in that it’s very speculative and high-concept. I’m always thinking about the ways the world is knit together, and this comes through strongly in my stories.
Why Do I Write What I Do?
Because this is how I see the world. I used to think that I was crazy, but now I know that many people have predictive dreams and spiritual visions like I always have had–that this is simply a mystical way of experiencing life, and it’s more common among people who are highly sensitive. Moi. So, I can’t really help but write this stuff. Other people write about the surface experience of life, or the underbelly of life, or the human condition as it threads its way through life. I write about all the layers of life overlaid on one another. It’s the easiest way for me to write, because it’s honestly exactly the way I perceive things. When I tell you a story, it’s often exactly how it appeared in my mind, no noodling about to make it as weird as it is.
How Does My Writing Process Work?
I love Robert Olen Butler’s book From Where You Dream, which taught me how to relax into a dream-like state in order to place myself in the landscape of my story and let it unfold from my subconscious. It’s what makes my best stories so well tied together and resonant. I also put story ideas on 3×5 cards and keep them in a (growing) file, and when I’m beginning to work on a story, I pull out that card and then add cards for every scene or idea I have, until the stack seems pretty complete. It’s easy from there to just work on one card at a time and rearrange them as I go so the book flows without losing any details. I can add in cards or throw them out as I go, too. This technique I also picked up from Butler, no invention of mine. But I’ve found that some books need more detailed planning, while others I hardly look at the cards and just use them as a rough guide to keep me from losing the thread. For example, I just wrote another short story collection with 25 stories about all kinds of dreams. Thirty story cards were written while I took a (long) bubble bath, chucking them out on the rug as I went. Then I piled them up and wrote my way through them, discarding the ones I didn’t really love. Done.
I also often figure out what I need to figure out next for a project, like the background of a character, and then go to sleep or go about other tasks in my day. My subconscious is a better writer than my conscious mind, for sure. Trust it, and it comes up with incredible ideas. Force it, and the whole thing crumbles in my hands. This is a very efficient way of working, too, so it may in part explain how I’m able to layer my work up and use my time I’m not working to also do writing work. I will wake up, write or edit if I have time before my daughter wakes up, get her ready for the day, set myself a task or question in my mind if necessary, and take her to the lake, whispering to myself like a madwoman. She finds this entertaining for now. I slip administrative tasks into all the cracks, and whenever I have a chunk of time to work, I try to be ready to go and really get something down. I do have to balance this all with resting a bit, though, since I do have a habit of burning myself out. Surprise surprise.
Up Next… (Posting The Week of May 19)
Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi has a Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Journalism, and History. She has been writing essays, stories, and poetry since she was a teen and has always been an avid reader of many genres. She has edited poetry anthologies, novels, and other various writing and journalistic pieces, and has won awards for her essays and poetry. As a journalist and a writer, she’s written for various newspapers, magazines, online news sources, and websites. Erin owns Addison’s Compass Public Relations, with a subsidiary of Hook of a Book Media. She has over 18 years of writing, communications, public relations, marketing, editing, fund-raising, event planning, blogging, social media, and copywriting experience and offers services in all of the above mentioned areas. She is delighted to be the mother of three children, Nassem Al-Mehairi, Emma Al-Mehairi, and Addison Busbey, and lives in Ohio, where she reads, writes, cooks, bakes, and probably has a million other things going on at once.
Jason Derr studied Creative Writing at Eastern Washington University and has his Masters from the Vancouver School of Theology. His short fiction has appeared in The Midnight Diner, Relief, Green Briar Review and Literary Orphans. He is the author of THE BOSTON 395 and THE LIFE AND REMEMBRANCES OF MARTHA TOOLE.
Andrea’s writing journey has been quite an unusual one. Born in the Netherlands, she went from studying biology to studying theology to becoming a teacher, until she moved to Spain to be with the love of her life. In Spain she finally started to listen to her muse and take her writing seriously. Andrea is now trying to get her first fantasy novel published while working on her second. Her native language is Dutch, but she writes in English only, although it’s her dream to become fluent in Irish Gaelic one day and write Irish poetry.