Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Writing process blog hop

I was tagged by Judi Sutherland http://judisutherland.com/ .

1.  What am I working on?

I take it that just means writing, and not the boring things like marketing.  I am always writing poetry.  I am not a very prolific poet.  I write about 4 or 5 poems a year, often in response to a writing exercise set by my friend Gaia Holmes.  In short fiction, I am writing a story with the working title of “Valves”, which is a kind of spy story set in an imaginary totalitarian state.  I like imaginary settings, because I don’t like having to do research which takes longer than 5 minutes.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Both my prose and poetry tend to be made from very simple ingredients.  In poetry, I have an unwritten list of proscribed words.  For example: cerulean, orb, gossamer, zephyr, and so forth.  I agree with the principle that, in dialogue, you only use the word “said”, not verbs that try to convey how the words were said, which should arise from the content of the dialogue.  Nearly everything I write is in the first person and the present tense.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Much of it comes from previous experience.  I grew up in an unusual family: my mother was 21 when I was born, but my father was 38 years her senior.  There were three distinct generations in our household, and the three of us never agreed about anything.  At the time, this seemed normal, but I have since been trying to learn how to look sideways and it and see how strange it was.  A lot of my protagonists suffer from some kind of mental illness, obsession, or delusion.  I did not take up writing seriously until I was 44, and so I am still near the beginning of my writing career.  Sometimes I write something because I realised that I have not written in that form or genre before.  These exercises sometimes turn out artificial or unconvincing, but sometimes they succeed and hence extend the range of my work.

4. How does my writing process work?

It starts with notebooks.  I have three notebooks on the go at all times:  a small one for writing ideas; another small one for everyday stuff like shopping lists, which prevents the first one from becoming diluted by real life, and an A4 one for drafting and longer writing exercises.  As soon as I know how I am going to start, I usually go straight to the word processor.  In a sense, I am writing 24 hours a day: when I’m in the bath, when I’m cooking.  I do get blocked, of course.  When I can’t write, I read.  Just about everything I read is selected to enrich my writing.  That may sound humourless and mechanical, but one of the best feelings I get when I finish a book is to think, “I wish I had written that,” or “There is no way I could have written that.”

The one part of the writing cycle that frustrates me is marketing.  It is very time-consuming, and can eat into writing or reading time.  So far, I have not perfected it, but I fight on.

The writer I am tagging is a fellow member of the Black Horse Poets in Wakefield, http://www.michael-yates.co.uk/   (Mick: this blog hop works by your writing your responses to the above 4 questions in your own blog, and tagging another writer at the end.)


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