And here we are! I was tagged to answer some questions about my work and process by the wonderful Casey Blair. If you haven’t already, you should check out her thoughtful post.
What Am I Working On?
I usually have several stories in progress at any given time, all in different stages of creation. The one I’m currently
fighting working on is about a young woman stuck in a time machine that can only travel backwards in time. Originally, it was only supposed to be 750 words, but that length didn’t do the story justice. So, it’s growing. I can’t say much more about it yet because it’s still in that OHMYGODWHATAMIDOINGJUSTKEEPGOINGFIXITLATER stage. But I think it’s going to have a happy(ish) ending.
How Does My Work Differ From Others in the Genre?
My stories are by no means reinventing the speculative fiction genre as we know it. That takes too much effort. (I jest, but Blair MacGregor makes a good point about novelty here.)
But I love taking different slants on tropes and I like experimenting with voices and point-of-views. I also try to keep characters unburdened with physical descriptions; I won’t tell you the color of their eyes or skin and I definitely won’t tell you how tall they are. Lately I’ve been experimenting with keeping their gender ambiguous too. The way I see it, this way the reader can make the characters their own. And it gets me around the obstacle of having to describe appearances – something which I’ve never enjoyed writing. For me, I hear my character’s voices, see their world from their eyes and know what their hands and mouths are doing. But their faces, for some reason, never stay with me.
Why Do I Write What I Do?
Snarky answer: Because I can.
Less snarky answer: Because each story is an experiment and an attempt at pushing my abilities in some way. Each one is written for a particular reader in mind – whether it’s a friend or my younger self. (Not that I ever tell anyone which one is which – always keep your readers guessing.)
My stories tend to be pretty dark and/or sad because I have a hard time caring about a character unless their situation is dire and the odds are stacked against them. Mostly, I like to write about protagonists who are fighting for something they’ve lost – or are going to lose. It buys them sympathy, even if they don’t deserve it.
How Does My Writing Process Work?
Very slowly. Stories of substance usually take a month to write. Or six.
My stories usually start with a seed – an image or phrase. The first draft is always the hardest for me. My demon is the endless, daunting white page that needs to be filled. Which is why I start most of my stories scribbling fragments in an old composition notebook. Not a fancy journal – a mass produced, squat, cardboard bound, wide ruled notebook. Basically, my notebooks are not allowed to be prettier than my words at this stage. At this point, there is a lot of jibberish and many crossed out lines. There are character profiles in the margins and notes to myself. Line edits are done on the fly while sentences are constantly being reworked as I transcribe them into Word. Which is why my grammar is always off.
Revisions, though, are a little easier. After the first draft, I have something to work with, there are words on the page and it’s no longer so daunting. Every story goes through a beta reader, sometimes many beta readers. Every story is revised. Some stories only need two revisions before I’m happy with them and some need five.
One of my instructors at VP told us that you never learn how to write a novel, you only learn how to write this novel. And to a certain extent, I think that’s true of short stories as well. Every time I sit down to write a new story, I have to learn how it wants to be told.