April 7, 2014

Writing Tip: Writing Process Blog Tour

Part of what's so fun about being a member of the writing community in Chicago - or anywhere - is this kind of thing: someone starting something like this Writing Process Blog Tour and inviting other writers to take part. My friend Patty McNair, the incredibly talented writer and author of The Temple of Air invited me to join in.
This blog tour is sort of like a chain letter - you post something, then ask friends to post something and so on and so on. And you all link to each other.
It's fun for us, and readers have a chance to hear from all sorts of authors talking about this business of writing.
So, we're all answering the same four questions and here's how Patty did it.  Now here's mine:

1. What am I working on? 
I am working on my second novel, The Ones You Left Behind. My first book took me eight years to complete and so far, I've been working on this one for about two and a half years. Presently, I'm reworking it with suggestions from my agent. I'm also part of two critique groups now, so am getting lots of support and feedback this time around, something I didn't have with the first book.
Even with all of that, there's no easy way to do this business of writing a novel.
It's beyond me how some authors come up with a book every couple of years.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
What sets my work apart is my voice, who I am as a person and what that brings to my work. Another important element, to me, is the humor within my stories. My books are not comedies, they are about real-life people dealing with real-life situations, and acknowledging that even through tragedy there is humor in life.
To my mind, if we cannot find the humor in life we will be lost.

3. Why do I write what I do?
I like writing about women who readers recognize and relate to, who gain strength through adversity, and do it on their own, without depending on a man. Most of my friends are very strong women but I know a few women who would be hard-pressed to operate without a man as the focal point in their life. Not that I judge those relationships, whatever works is my philosophy - I just think we're all better off if we can find our strength within ourselves, so that's who I write about.

4. How does your writing process work?
It has changed from the first book to this one. First time around I wrote and edited, wrote and edited. This time I decided to do it differently, and write from beginning to end. It was difficult for me at first because I'm a serial editor, but when I got used to it I found that it helped, in that I was able to meet all the characters and find out where the story was going, and then go back and fix the things that didn't help me get there.
All of this sounds like I just write and write and write. The truth of it is I spend a lot of time thinking about my story, staring at my screen, not sure how to move the story along or what needs to happen. But thinking is part of the process, so I try not to feel like a slug when nothing's working.
My writing process seems to evolve as I evolve as a writer. I've learned to go with the flow.

So, next in line are the authors I've chosen. Check them out - they're wonderful writers with amazing books:

Renee Rosen: As clichéd as it sounds, Renée is a former advertising copywriter who always had a novel in her desk drawer. When she saw the chance to make the leap from writing ad copy to fiction, she jumped at it. A confirmed history and book nerd, Renée loves all things old, all things Chicago and all things written. Find Renee here.

Renee James: Renee James is a writer, editor, wilderness canoeist, transgender activist and, thanks mainly to a passion for novels with a plot, a failed English major. Her self-published first novel, Coming Out Can Be Murder, won several awards and has been republished by Riverdale/Magnus Books in 2014 as Transition to Murder. Her website is www.reneejamesauthor.com.

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