My Writing Process Blog Tour

My Writing Process Blog Tour has been sweeping around the web and today I’m pleased to join the party. Many writers have been weighing in by answering four simple questions and it’s been lovely to learn about so many projects, people, and ways of being a writer. For more information please check out #MyWritingProcess on Twitter.

First, many thanks to Darian Lindle for tagging me and thus forcing me to pause and reflect. Darian and I first met as interns as the Seattle Repertory Theater just after college. Since then we’ve discovered that we have much the same taste in film, parenting, all things Joss Wheedon, and the writerly work of world building. Darian writes for theater and just completed her first novel with her sister Lola. I'm honored to report that I recently beta-read this debut novel and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And since it was a romance novel... it was particularly…er… fun to read. 

What Am I Working On?

DRIFT, a love story set in the Pacific Northwest. The story centers on Valerie and Elian who have spent their childhoods together exploring their local shoreline, finding connection through their psychic gifts, and falling in young love. As they grow up and move away from home, life circumstances begin to pull and tear at their relationship until they must face the devastating limits of their powers and love.

DRIFT is a paranormal love story set in a small coastal town in Washington state (think psychic Dawson's Creek in the PNW... with ghost stories). This manuscript is complete at 66,000 words and is currently being revised.

Why Do I Write What I Write?

Well, because something inside me says “this one, this story”. I don’t know how else to put it. I keep a long list of project possibilities, but ultimately one jumps out and needs my time.

At root, I care about writing stories that will matter to someone, perhaps make the work of life a bit easier. I hope to inspire, to lift, to lighten when I can. I don’t mean that my work is particularly laugh-out-loud funny (though I do hope it sometimes produces a chuckle). I often write about what is hard but ultimately worth doing anyway. Like love. Or family. Or friendship and forgiveness. Or teaching. I also tend to write in ways that I hope challenge some of mainstream America’s expectations about gender and identity. I care about so many issues, and I believe that art and story help us better ourselves and make sense of the mad beauty around us.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Actually, Darian has helped me to think more about this. She once noted that my work is often based in a kind of ‘place magic’. I think I agree. Not in a woo-woo way necessarily (though I like to think that writing is much like witchcraft), just in the sense that I do believe our feelings are often tied to environment and our perceptions of that environment. DRIFT is as much about the Pacific Northwest as it is about my characters. A grey beach at dawn, a small dark place beneath a forest fern, the inside of a child’s cubby, a century old door that’s been painted shut… those are the kinds of things that make me want to write and read. I think DRIFT has place magic. But to be clear, I think plenty of other books do too. Perhaps what makes my work different is the particular time and place I aim to capture and build. This particular world.

How does my writing process work?

With the support of my loving partner, I left my teaching job last year and spent the last several months writing DRIFT in coffee shops and cafes around Seattle. I’ve never written so much or so often and, in short, it’s been glorious. I wish I could grant this time to so many of my dearest artist friends and family. We need more ways to give human beings the time to dream... I often feel like the elephant in the room is how the hell people find ways to write & create art when they have to pay bills and survive…but I digress. (Get on that Kickstarter ya’ll!)

I carry my office in a small backpack and have about half a dozen coffee shops that I visit regularly. I usually write in the morning, facing a window, sipping a mocha, and listening to instrumental music. For DRIFT, I mostly listen to Nils Frahm. Each day I write about 500-1000 words and then spend the rest of the day volunteering, parenting, taking care of myself, networking, or brainstorming and thinking.

Writing is exciting and draining work for me. I need lots of time that isn’t in front of the page or screen to sort out my ideas and to breathe. I need space and time and then eventually… a coffee shop of one’s own. I think my ideal writing space would be a small private office near a bustling cafe, perhaps just down a cobbled street or up a crooked stair. In this cafe there would be artists and authors milling about and exchanging ideas…laughing.  Yes, that would something.

For now, we’ll share at the digital table. I hereby pass the blog baton to the wonderful and talented Delia Sherman. Please check out her entry next week on Tuesday, June 10.

I’m pleased to say I met Delia last year at the Sirens Conference on women in fantasy literature. She is one of the warmest people I know and I'm continually entranced by her kind words of wisdom.

Sherman is a prolific fantasy writer and editor. Her novel The Porcelain Dove (1992) won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Other notable works include Through a Brazen Mirror (1988), and The Fall of the Kings (2002) written in collaboration with partner Ellen Kushner. She has also written novels for young people including Changeling (2006), The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen (2009), and The Freedom Maze (2011), a beautifully crafted historical fantasy that earned Sherman the Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature.

Sherman has had short fiction published in numerous volumes, been a contributing editor for Tor, taught classes at Boston College, Northeastern University, and Hollins Univeristy, and is a founding member of the Interstitual Arts Foundation. She lives in New York, NY.


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