So Stueve tagged me in a post and since I cave easily to peer pressure (and I haven’t blogged in a while) I’m ceding to his demands. I was at the Nebraska Book Festival on Saturday, sitting in between two published authors and surrounded by more, and one of them asked me if I was a writer. I never know how to answer that question. Do I write? Yes. Do I make a living as a writer? Not even enough for a $5 movie. Does that mean I’m not a writer? I feel like humility begs me to answer “yes” and hubris demands I answer “hell, no.”
Anyway, all that to say I find the timing of Stueve’s post rather apt. So here goes.
What am I working on?
Right now, this blog. Also, Stueve asked me to give his new novel (due out in July) a once-over. As soon as submissions for Midnight Circus pick up again, I’m sure I’ll be back in the business of reading submissions. And once I slog through my current grading load, I will revisit my own book–a memoir of my dating life–and put it in presentable shape before it goes out for edits and (hopefully) eventual publication.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m not sure it does. My genre is best classified as creative non-fiction, and it doesn’t differ much in the sense that everyone has stories to tell.
But my story is different from others, and is fairly niche. Single, childless, Mormon, liberal, feminist educator–I don’t think there’s a whole lot of those stories out there. And what I hope makes my work differ from others who have written about the single woman Mormon experience (and there are a few) is that I try to write as globally as possible. As much as I know my single friends will read my work and nod their heads in agreement, I also want my married friends to read my work and find a connecting thread between us. So that’s my goal–universality.
Why do I write what I do?
Because if I didn’t, I honestly think I would go insane. Writing is how I make sense of life, how I manage the peaks and valleys, how I share joy and seek empathy for my sorrows.
I wrote my book for my nieces, because if any of them ever find themselves single and 27 years old, I don’t want them to think it is the end of their world. I don’t want them to waste years pining for a marriage that will never happen. I want them to live, to be happy in their situation, to learn from my mistakes. I don’t want them to buy into the Jerry Maguire falsehood that they need someone to complete them.
How does my writing process work?
I wish I was one of those disciplined writers like my hero Anne Lamott, who sits down every day and writes, even if it’s garbage. But I’m not. Words come to me in flashes and I type furiously and edit later. I often need a catalyst of some sort–pride, happiness, sorrow, anger–to get me going.
Once I have words on the page, I let it simmer for a few days, and then I print it off. Yes, I am a tree murderer. But there is something about reading on paper and crossing out adverbs and prepositions and passive voice and inserting better verbs and clearer subjects that makes my writing so much better. Then I make the changes in the digital copy, let it simmer, and repeat that process until I am just sick of whatever I’m editing.
And that’s usually when I hand off the writing to someone else and say, “Please polish this turd.”
So that’s my writing process.
I’m not sure I know anyone who fancies themselves a writer (Amy?) but if you do, link your blog in the comments and share your own writing process!