Welcome to the writing process blog tour. Thanks to Brett Rydin for nominating me last week. Brett is the mastermind behind Wyvern Lit and one of the cofounders of the badass sounding new press Jellyfish Highway. He also writes and tweets up a storm. I thought this was an awesome opportunity to start a conversation on process and get all of our readers involved. But first, let’s talk about me:
1) What are you working on? Recently I “finished” my first short story collection. Of course, as soon as I said the word “finished” I immediately decided that it needed a million corrections, but I’m pretending that I’m happy with it for now. Before I go back and think about that again, though, I’ve been working on an essay collection. I’ve got some performances coming up this month, so I’ve been writing a bunch of new material that I’m excited about. I’m also in grad school, so I’ve got all of those fancy book learning type things I have to write, which has been flash fiction a la J Robert Lennon and Raymond Carver. Which is also fun. I think I’m the most excited about the fact that writing has started to suck less and be much more fun.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre? Mine is better. HA. Just kidding. That’s a bullshit answer. I’ve been trying to figure out what to say to this. I write literary fiction. I guess I write a lot of flash fiction and magical realism. But I consider myself a literary fiction writer. And with the umbrella that we have over that genre, and so many many many writers that exist, who knows if I’m doing anything different at all? My voice is my own, so maybe that?
3) Why do you write what you do? When I dropped out of college (read: was kicked out) the first time, I started being way more aware of the things around me. And not the cool interesting stuff. The shitty stuff. Because at that time, my life was kind of shitty. And I paired noticing the shitty things around me with how very often I fell in and out of love and paired all of that with the ingrained Latino penchant for magical realism and BOOM. My weird ass writing was born.
4) How does your writing process work? Well, first I open my computer.
Let’s talk real fast about what I just said.
I open my computer. That’s right! I have a journal, I use it sometimes, but by far, the thing I write on the most is my computer. I type faster than I write. I feel the words in a different way. Each one feels like I built something instead of let it pour out. It feels more musical when I put it down with keystrokes instead of pen strokes. So I open my computer. And I open a word document. And then I open the internet and go on twitter.
I am bad at focusing.
And I have a book next to me. Maybe a few books next to me. (There are three next to me right now). These I go to when I feel stuck. When I don’t have any ideas. And I pour a cup of coffee or I ask the barista to pour me a cup of coffee. Black. No bullshit. And then I let my mind go blank and then let it fill up and do that a few times before my eyes roll back in my head and suddenly I’ve typed 3000 words, my pants are off and someone is next to me saying “Sir, you have to leave.”
Then is the part that matters.
I print out my work and grab a pen. And I scribble all over my manuscript. And I tear that motherfucker apart. Then, I rewrite the whole thing. I don’t go in and change. Every word in the subsequent drafts is rewritten. I want to make sure each one feels right. And then I do this a few more times, until it’s time for line edits. And I will go through and only change sentences and paragraphs I don’t like during that step. Then print, red pen, edit, print, red pen, edit until it’s done. That’s usually draft 12 or 13. Sometimes I don’t do this. Sometimes I do. Depends on the day.
This was fun. Typically, I would nominate three bloggers/writers to do this as well, but I want more. I want ALL OF YOU to do it. Here’s how:
Answer the above questions. Email them to chicagoliterati[at]gmail[dot]com with the subject line “Writing Process.” We’ll go through and pick our favorites from authors of every level, and add them below. Also feel free to talk about your process in the comments. Write on!