Reflection Pool in the Snoqualmie River.
One of my grad school friends, Jenna McGuigan, asked me to be a part of a writerly blog tour that’s going around, where everyone answers four questions. She did a wonderful job at her blog; you should check it out if you’re interested in the process of creative writing according to a few of us who are trying to make a habit of it. Also, I’ve tagged my friend Jodi Paloni to post next (her blog is here).
1. What are you working on now?
I am working on a contemporary novel about a love triangle between a groundskeeper, a film star, and a movie producer, all of whom can’t escape their messy pasts and are searching for ways to justify their existence. The novel explores our current culture’s complex relationship with fame, beauty, and reality. It’s also about the yearning to love and be loved, and how that same yearning is often what drives people to hurt themselves and others. I’m in the midst of my third draft, which I hope will be my last wholesale revision/rewrite before polishing.
2. How does your work differ from others in the genre?
There are so many writers of literary fiction that it is really tough to pin down how my work differs, other than in the fact that I–a different person–wrote it. That’s no small thing; in fact, I think it’s the biggest, how our own individual take on language shines through. I enjoy describing the natural world. I’m fascinated but the way internal conflicts produce strange actions and choices. But many other writers are as well,which is one of the reasons why I’m compelled to write. Reading great writing inspires me to try my best to write that well myself.
3. Why do you write what you do?
Because I not only enjoy writing , but I enjoy it enough to write every day, which isn’t something that I can say about most activities in life. I write also because I love to read. Always have. Beautiful writing and storytelling give me pleasure and hope. So I try to write and read in order that my pleasure and hope might increase. That might sound selfish. But I think that’s because often people mistake the difference between self-serving and self-preserving. But here I go, arguing with people when no one else is in the room (probably another reason I’m a writer).
I also don’t think I’d have the guts to spend as much time writing as I do if I didn’t believe it was somehow important in ways that are beyond just my own experience of it. I don’t know what those ways are, and am suspicious when people try and reduce practices like writing and reading into some sort of cost-benefit analysis. But I believe writing is important, like I believe reading is important, and art is important, and beauty is important, very important…but in mysterious ways. And I tend to trust that those things that defy definition are among the most important.
4. What is your writing process?
I write every day at least once for a substantial chunk of time (1-2 hours or so); these days, it’s usually during my daughter’s naps (like right now). On days in which I have help with childcare I can be productive for 5-6 hours, with breaks for short naps and short walks (which every creative person I know agrees are time-tested wonder drugs for the creative process, and good for your health, as well, especially after sitting so much). By writing, I mean writing, researching, revising, outlining, and–of course–erasing 99 percent of what you wrote in the first place.