Poet Wendy Babiak is a kind person. You'll see that after perusing her blog for a bit (conveniently linked for your clicky finger). So why she thought to ask the torturous question of What Is Your Writing Process? of me I don't know. And this while I've got jury duty! Cruel, pernicious world that makes a man try to think after listening to attorneys drone! But I'll tell you what I've learned about myself, and that's this:
I need emotion. Not simply an emotional hook, but emotion.
What have I written? Three books. I'll link them here. What links them? Easy. I tend to start off, as so many things do, with a feeling. Art is emotion distilled, a communication of internal movements hoping to align with the ephemeral essential. The feeling jumping me might be visceral, something like How would it feel living under a Church that you believed could read your mind, or that giddy feeling of talking to a dear friend after weeks of being away on a sea voyage that ended with dragons.
Feeling is key. As a writer it places me immediately in the story, in the character.
Process. Is what I do even considered “process?” I am not the most regimented of writers. I do all the usual things, farting about with Facebook, pretending I’ll get inspiration from tending to laundry or a bag of chips, calling one more viewing of Creature from the Black Lagoon "research." But once the distractions are done and it’s just me and the blank page? That’s when I get to do the Pacino line from Scarface.
“Say hello to my little pen.”
That's when process jumps in. See that mock-up there?My red markers are getting a workout on my latest manuscript. Editing is writing. Don’t let anybody divide the two; just makes things unnecessarily difficult. Editing is writing. Writing, when you’re doing it to sell a few copies, is editing. This sucker, The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan, being an unconventional conventional adventure, upends just enough of the tropes and clichés of manly sci fi drama to require something that, as a writer, is comfortably close to the discipline of the insane. The book is satirical minus a laugh track, caustic minus acid burns, and subversive like hackers with a free weekend. (I believe writers should get the same benefit of inhabiting a delightful variety of roles as actors; this keeps the work fresh and evolving from book to book; hell, sometimes even within the same book. I hate taking readers where they’ve been before. An author shouldn’t be a bloomin' bored tour guide.) The book’s undergoing a ton of edits from me. I’ve come to love the little slash marks produced in the quiet of my room. That’s part of the process right there. Has to be quiet. By quiet I mean if there’s going to be music it’s music I want to hear; if there’s to be conversation it’s me talking to myself; if there are any interruptions the only damnation falls upon my head as cause alone. Writing is very often a selfish enterprise. Don’t believe anyone telling you otherwise. It’s me, me, me but it’s to get to you, you, you.
You’re a huge part of the process.
In the song Five Years David Bowie sang, “I don’t think you knew you were in this song.” This jumps us up a square. If we’re not writing in a vacuum, what’s the impetus? You. I write because it’s such a brittle, artificial world that gets packed in our lunch boxes when the actual world comes in such flavors and textures that it’d be a shame to deny they’re real. I write because I want to understand things, and if I can convey a little of that understanding to you in an intriguing way, well, that’s a bit of time-served for good behavior, innit? The only reason we’re on this planet is to create beauty, right? I submit to you that there’s nothing more beautiful than the feeling of communication, because what’s the root of that? Commune. To become one.
Write on, right on.