My Writing Process Blog Tour

One of the great things about attending conventions is the opportunity to meet and network with other writers. Writing can be quite a solitary experience and writers a solitary group. Some of us relish the chance to meet up with our brethren and sistren, share some stories, have a few drinks…Oh, right, and network.

All kidding aside, I do have a great chance to network right here. I was asked to participate in a Blog Tour by the very talented author Mary Lynne Gibbs. If you have not had the chance to read Ms. Gibbs writing, I highly suggest you do. The Jericho novels (
Jericho Rising and Jericho’s Redemption) take place in a post-apocalyptic world run by women where men are playthings at best. Her upcoming novel (which I’ve gotten a chance to read because I’m cool like that) is amazeballs! I can’t wait until it comes out so I can start promoting it.

The blog tour process is a simple one. There are four questions to answer about writing. To see Mary’s answers, check out her blog
Mary’s Musings. Each participant recruits three other authors to answer the same questions next week. You’ll find the names of the people who I roped in, ah, who wanted to participate after my answers.

So, without further stalling, on to the questions.

  • What am I working on?

Unless you are new to
Napalmed,1 you know that I am rarely working on only one thing. One of the ways I keep busy is to make sure that I have a number of different projects going at once (more on that later). Since I have been ghostwriting, I have had even more projects running concurrently. At the moment I am caught up with the ghostwriting gigs, so I am concentrating on the following:

  • GLAHW submission: Every year the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers puts out a themed anthology. This year’s theme is Fairy Tales. Without giving too much away, I’m putting a new spin on “Puss in Boots” by moving it to close to modern times, having it take place in Michigan, and changing the ending just a teensy bit.2

  • Unnamed Hell Story: I don’t want to jinx anything by naming the anthology that I will be submitting this one to, but they are looking for different views of Hell. While this seems like a great opportunity to pull out my Devil’s Daughter character again, there is an idea which has been itching the back of my head for a while involving a demon who operates as a coyote smuggling recently deceased souls out of the underworld — for a price, of course.
  • Under A Blood Red Moon (working title): This is the novel length manuscript that I have been chipping away at off an on this year. It involves werewolf hunting, a conspiracy that goes back to the middle ages, and a touch of romance. It’s currently sitting at around 63,000 words and I would guess it is about 1/3 of the way finished.
  • Thinking about the next DRP anthology: I had so much fun putting together Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails that I am thinking about putting out another anthology next year. Stay tuned, further details as new warrants.

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

OK, this is a difficult question to answer, because it is making some assumptions that I am not all that comfortable with. For starters, I think that every writer is unique in some way, but very similar in others. The question also assumes that I am only working in one genre.

All right, nitpicking aside, I guess it would be easier to answer if there was only one work in question. We’ll chalk that one up to my fault.

I consider myself (primarily) a writer of dark speculative fiction.
4 At least that is what my business cards say. One simple answer to the question has already been hinted at. My writing is different from others in that I do my best not to limit myself to one sub-genre or specific subject matter. While I tend to write what most people would consider Horror, I have some stories which are kind of light and others which are dark, dark, dark.

I also tend to infuse much of my writing with a healthy dose of humor. I find that humor and horror are two sides of the same coin.
5 Humor is a great way to temporarily diffuse tension which allows me to build it even higher.

Finally, if you read a lot of material I have written, you will start to see some of the same themes appear. Many of my characters have issues trusting people or a history of abandonment.
6 There is a lot of exploration of the plastic nature of reality — how much of the world is determined by our own perceptions? Of course, there tend to be a lot of dogs too.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Because if I didn’t, either my head would explode or my muse would kill me.

All kidding aside, I write what interests me. I use my writing to explore aspects of the world which fascinate me, frighten me, or repulse me. I find that writing can be a very cathartic experience. Yes, I’ve killed (on the page) my share of people who pissed me off, but I also throw in things that bother me or which I have been puzzling about.

Perception fueling reality is a prime example. I keep coming back to that because I have yet to provide myself with an answer which I find adequate. There are days which I find it hard to get anything done because I have convinced myself that there is no ultimate reality, so what’s the point of making the bed?

4. How does your writing process work?

I’m going to answer this one twice.7

I always liken the idea creation process to a compost heap. I am not sure where I first read that, but it is a perfect description. My brain is a giant pile of random odds and ends. I keep throwing stuff into it, churning it up, turning it over. Eventually these random pieces smoosh together into something which can support life. Then I take it out and spread it all over the page.

Sorry if that was a bit too descriptive.

As for the writing itself, let me say that I absolutely
loathe outlines. I have a mild case of OCD which flares up when encountering things like outlines and instruction manuals. If I write out an outline, I have to follow it. Even if the story would be better if it went off in a different direction, I’ll stick to that damn, creativity stifling outline.

For those of you who are old enough, allow me to present the AAA TripTik method of writing. As you recall, those little booklets broke your trip down into little, manageable chunks. Usually there would be a major city at the top of the map and another at the bottom. AAA then highlighted the best route between the two. It also provided all of the little off-shoot roads as well in case you wanted to detour to view the World’s Largest Hairball or the Bottle Cap Museum or whatever.

That’s pretty much the way my writing works. When I sit down, I already know (and in most cases have notes on) all of the major plot points, the beats if you will. At this point person X meets person Y, at this point A happens, etc. Then I write the stuff in the middle. Sometimes I veer off and ignore one of the previously marked pitstops, but not often. It’s a way to be organized without being stifled.

I should also confess that I am incredibly lazy. Without some sort of deadline or goal, nothing would ever get done. I found that I am much more productive when I have a daily word goal the first year I did
NaNoWriMo8. I currently use How Not To Write’s Write Chain app. It allows you to set a word goal (mine is currently 1,000 words per day) and the number of days you can coast (one) without breaking your chain. The desire to not break my writing chain is enough to trigger the aforementioned OCD. I will not skip more than one day of writing. Generally I allow myself two skip days a week, but never in a row. All the other days I have to write at least 1,000 words.

The chain I am currently working on started at 1 January 2013. Like I said, I find this very effective.

As I hinted at earlier, I am usually working on a number of different projects at once. This allows me the ability to write every day, even on the days that I don’t feel like working on a particular manuscript. If I just can’t bring myself to work on the werewolf story, I switch over to the zombie story. Some times I need a little time to process where I am in a particular work, to figure out what comes next. On these days, rather than not write at all, I write something else. I know myself to well to allow myself the opportunity to not work on something. That way leads to stagnation and eventually madness.9

So, those are my answers to the four questions. I hope you found my answers at least a little entertaining.

As promised, here are the names and locations of the writers who are next on the blog tour:

Peggy Christie (
themonkeyisin.com) Peggy has been writing horror and dark fiction since 1999. She also writes movie reviews for Cinema Head Cheese and Rare-Horror. Check out her website at themonkeyisin.com.

Sean M Davis (
http://seanmdavis.wordpress.com) is the author of Clean Freak and his short stories that have appeared in Amanda's Recurring Nightmare, Bête Noire, and on Fangoria. You can harass him at chimericaldark@hotmail.com and stalk him at http://seanmdavis.wordpress.com

James Frederick Leach (
http://jamesfrederickleach.com) writes dark, speculative poetry, fiction & drama and is a contributing editor to the website dailynightmare.com which is devoted to Midwest Snob Horror. He also contributes to the sites 20 Minute Garden and Green Home Brewing which suggests some of his other interests. 







1 And if you are, welcome!

2 Surprise ending! What a twist!
3

3 Oh noes, I’m turning into M. Night Shamalamadingdong.

4 Although I appear to be making a name for myself ghostwriting erotica. Go figure.

5 I've written a lot on this topic.

6 Shut up, all you armchair psychoanalysts.

7 Because it’s my blog and I can do what I want! Nyah!

8 I highly suggest all would be writers attempt the National Novel Writing Month at least once. The rules are easy. You have the month of November to churn out a 50,000 word novel. It is a great exercise for turning off your internal editor, putting your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard, and writing.

9
OK, maybe I’m being melodramatic, but who knows? I don’t want to risk it.