Today’s episode is part of a blog post relay which focuses on both the writer and the writing process. Rebecca Kanner, author of SINNERS AND THE SEA, graciously invited me to be a part of this virtual tour. To be honest, I was thrilled to be included!
I am supposed to answer the following questions….and no, they have nothing to do with why this night is different from any other night.
Question #1: What am I working on?
At the moment, I have three disparate projects going on. My mother would probably say I have shpilkes; I prefer to think of it as a variety of deep interests.
1. This blog, The Wifely Person Speaks, is really the biggest things on the boards right now. Believe it or not, it ain’t easy. Even though I publish only once a week, I must go through three or four “what if” versions before I finally decide on the final one.
2. Although I had a contract with a publisher for DREAM DANCER I hope to sign with a new publisher very soon. It's been a long road for this book, but I am optimistic it will land in the right place. You can read the opening on the blog site; just click the link above.
3. Midrash, a kind of biblical commentary, has been my fun writing for some time. I do have a blog, MIDRASH STATE OF MIND, where I have posted several of those commentaries. Right now, I am focused on the transition from Genesis to Exodus. The stories of Joseph and Moses are endlessly fascinating and I am deep in research for that transitional period.
Question #2: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
It’s all mine and that makes it unique. But the three genres do differ.
1. The blog is all me. It’s not a mommy blog nor a widow blog, it’s just a POV blog. It’s my take on the world, so that makes it different. Other than death threats and threats of bodily harm, I welcome all comments, and to date, everyone, even the haters, get a response from me. It’s worth mentioning that one of my very early critics who wrote terrible things is now one of my best correspondents. Our politics remain polar opposite, but we do have similar taste in film.
2. When I wrote DREAM DANCER, I thought I was writing lust in the dust. Turned out, I was writing neo-feminist action adventure literature. I was told this by editors at several large publishing houses who said lovely things about the book...and all said, this is a book whose time has not come. Hang on to it; it will. Well, I think the time is now.
3. Midrash is an attempt to explain that which is not written. I am acutely aware that the bible is written about people whose time does not resemble our own, yet I find they have much in common with us in the 21st century. They had families, people they loved, people they trusted and didn’t trust. When I write between their lines, I am mindful of the period in which they lived, yet I want the things that bind us to be the focus. What I love most are the strings that link us to them, and how their lives parallel ours. Human emotion has not changed too much over the last 5,000 years …give or take a few millennia. That just fascinates me.
Question #3: Why do I write what I do?
Peel an onion and you get a thousand layers. Peel back the public persona and you get an endless spiral of contradiction….and that is an exploratory adventure! My job as a story teller is to expose the spiral and imbue it with some semblance of sense. Whether it’s the blog or the novel or a midrash, my ultimate goal is to expose the readers to something they’ve not seen before, provide them with new information, and leave them wanting more. (That must be the show person in me. I suppose.)
Writing is breathing; I could not function without it. Entranced by word choice, I love the linguistic structure of language and how every individual strings sentences together in a unique way. They are fingerprints of the brain. And I do love picking brains whenever I get the chance!
Question #4: How does your writing process work?
My process begins with listening for that first tiny voice of a character whose story needs to be told.
|where I write|
Characters do live in my head. From the moment one whispers, “Have I got story for you!” they sit on my shoulder, whispering their tales into my inner ear. They become real in many, many ways. They have opinions and preferences, good habits and bad ones, but they are always there. I learn to listen not just to their stories, but how the story is told. Writing emerges from listening. In my process, they go hand-in-hand, and I cannot separate one from the other.
Being self-competitive, I would go batty if I decided on a set number of words or so many hours in the chair per day. Instead, I go for whether or not I have gotten from point A to point B...and if I am satisfied with that progress. Of course, some days are better than others.....
And now, I must pass the torch to three other writers, all of whom I greatly admire: Jenna Zark, Sean Murphy, and Steve Artley. Jenna and Sean will be posting their answers next Monday, May 5th.
Jenna ‘s plays have been produced at Circle Repertory Company, Illusion Theater, History Theatre, Minnesota Jewish Theatre, Blank Slate and elsewhere. After her play A Body of Water debuted at Circle Repertory, it was published by Dramatists Play Service and selected by the National Foundation for Jewish Culture as a play that “breaks new ground.” Jenna's new novel The Beat on Ruby's Street focuses on a young Beat girl in Greenwich Village in 1958 and can be found at www.jennazark.com. The book has a terrific companion site, Beat Street Blog. Jenna is also a member of the Twin Cities musical theater collective Prosody.
Sean, on the other hand, is a speculative fiction writer who explores ideas of identity and the rough edges of how we define reality. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he is also a long-distance runner, photographer, singer, and is a member of Wyrdsmiths, the Twin Cities-based professional writers' group. His blog, Mental Chaff, is a window into his brain.
Although Steve Artley is not able to fully participate at this time, a trip to ArtleyToons Online is more than worth the click. Steve is a wonderful editorial cartoonist and now, the author of a new graphic anthology, The Aphelion Arc. I am a great devotee of his cartoons and as I write this, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my very own copy of TAA. Do pop over to both sites; you won't be sorry.