Bohemian Rhapsody

6/30/14



Being a writer is not especially romantic. Not even when you're struggling. Puccini may have painted a lovely picture of star-crossed artists, living on hope, talent, and bread crumbs, but it really has nothing to do with me. Maybe if I wrote by the quavering light of a candle stub in a cold flat with walls blackened by coal smoke on some putrid river bank in a novel by Dickens. Maybe then I could claim to suffer for my art. But it's hard to be a true bohemian when you have a laptop and microwavable burritos.

No, a real writer is someone who labours hard and stresses harder. Someone who has to be one part brilliant businessperson and three parts...who the hell knows what. Because their work is not the by-product of the machinations of the musculature or the application of formulae. There is no 1+1=2. You can't matriculate or reason your way into a successful novel. You just have to pour yourself onto the page and hope that you won't be too ridiculous.

Maybe we like to think of writing as being a romantic profession because otherwise, we're just crazy people. Crazy to think we can create something that other people need even more than the next iphone.

But I am a writer. For better or worse.

Right now we're enjoying the 'worse' part, because I haven't paid my cell phone bill in ages. And no one really likes microwavable burritos.

A fellow keyboard jockey invited me to share a little bit about my process in a good old fashioned blog hop and I was happy to oblige. Because the members of other competitive industries might see each other as the enemy, but writers always love other writers. So here are my carefully guarded secrets.

1. What are you working on now?
With my debut novel published and sitting on top of a pile of papers and journals beside my bed, I am hard at work on book #2, the sequel to SPARK, appropriately entitled BLAZE. Fire will be thrown, demons blasted, and tough decisions made. Just like in my real life.

2. Why do you write what you do?
I write middle grade fiction because kids of that age have a way of processing the world intelligently while still being able to believe in something. They don't think they know everything...but they want to know everything! I love to write about courage and redemption because I think you need generous helpings of these things when you're a tween. And I love to write about magical things happening in the regular world, because I think we all need to be able to believe in miracles. Sure it's all fun and games, but a good story should also remind you of the important things.

3. How does your writing process work?
I sit and stew. I am a stewer. I like to write a few paragraphs quickly and then go back and agonize over every word, several times over. The characters are more important to me than anything, so the plot usually develops according to what I want my characters to be and how I want them to change. I used to write at a narrow desk pushed up against the wall, but I sold it to pay the bills so now I write sitting cross-legged on my bed, surrounded by glasses of ice water and tatty coil notebooks. I have to HAVE TO make my notes with sharpie markers. Extra fine tip. In a style of handwriting almost completely illegible. When I finally get a paragraph to go just the way I want it, I giggle to myself.


Now, I was supposed to find three other writers to answer these same questions, which would make it a blog hop, you see. But I'm afraid I asked too late and didn't get things arranged in time. So I am going to send you to the far reaches of the galaxy, to some of my favourite writers. You may not automatically glean the answers to our blog hop questions, but hopefully you'll be amazed by their genius, as am I.

Meg Fee  -  My first selection is not a kidlit author, but a blogger I admire. As a writer, she is absolutely vulnerable, which is something I am not awesome at. Love her musings on life and relationships and new york city.

Claire Legrand  -  One of my current MG faves, although I hear tell she is branching out to YA. I love the careful attention she pays to her characters. You can examine their imperfections and cheer for them at the same time.

Ellen Potter  -  This is a writer whose genius lies in weaving a compelling and beautiful story out of harsh and unusual circumstances. I gasp and cry every single time I read the Kneebone Boy. And I think I've read it four times.

Yes, I realize I chose all women. That is purely incidental, I assure you. I could have gone back and swapped one out for a man for the sake of diversity, but that would be prejudicial and anyway I don't believe in gender quotas.

Special thanks to a new pal, Lisa, who asked me to be a part of this blog hop (hope she's not regretting it). Good things always happen when writers reach out to each other. It's a special sort of literary karma. Check her out here:
readlisalong.com 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I like your reasons for writing for tweens. I remember all the hullaballoo by some ultra conservative groups when Harry Potter came out-- made me crazy! Anything that captures the imagination of kids and transports them to another time and place, and gets them into reading is fantastic. I feel we baby young readers too much and underestimate their abilities to understand life and deal with it. To me, reading is life. Reading is sometimes being able to learn how not to do things in life by watching the consequences experienced by characters in novels. Reading is going to far away places, real and imagined, and meeting fabulous characters. Reading is learning about tragedies which have taken place through the ages from the safe environment of my own home. Reading is expanding one's vocabulary and finding the joy and pleasure of words, well put together. I have a good friend, Cori Connors, who is a singer/song writer and the president of the Mormon Arts Council and I know she spends 30 minutes, first thing in the morning, writing at her computer-- about absolutely anything which comes to mind. She is constantly striving to improve her craft. Thanks for sharing your talents with us.

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    1. Thanks Mary! CS Lewis said, "Those of us who are blamed when old for reading childish books were blamed when children for reading books too old for us."

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