Joanna Lilley, poet, non-fiction writer and all around wonderful woman, tagged me to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour. The idea behind the tour is that the “tagged” writer answers four questions about her (or his) writing process and then tags one or two other writers to do the same. It seems like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? Here are the questions:
What am I working on?
Right now I’m finishing the first draft of my fourth Mendenhall mystery, in which my poor heroine, Mendenhall Chief of Police Kate Williams, rushes home to Montreal after her mother is struck down by a hit-and-run driver. Then Kate learns that the accident may have been a deliberate attempt to get her away from Mendenhall.
Unlike many other writers I know, I only work on one thing at a time. If commitments force me to start something new before I’ve finished the piece I’m working on, I set the piece aside until I’ve met the obligation, then I go back to the original story and finish it. My head hurts at the thought of bopping between stories.
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I never met a genre I didn’t want to cross. Is it mystery, or is it fantasy? Is it fantasy or science fiction? Or something in between? Pity the poor bookseller trying to figure out where to shelve my books! Even my mysteries cross sub-genres, for Pete’s sake. For instance, the Mendenhall Mysteries are technically police procedurals, but they feel like cozies.
While in some of my stories the fate of humanity teeters in the balance, all my stories start from a small incident and build from there, character by character, until I have a finished story that, miraculously, has a beginning, middle and end.
Why do I write what I do?
Really, it’s not like I have a choice. I write the stories that are in me to write. And there are many, many stories clamoring to be written. They jostle around inside my head, jockeying to be the first at the top of my mind when I finally turn my attention to the next project.
I have noticed a theme in most of my work (I never set out with a theme in mind—it just happens). Almost all my stories deal with someone who is caught between two cultures, two worlds, two stages in his life. Someone who doesn’t fit in the environment in which she finds herself. The stories almost always revolve around my characters finding out where they belong, how they fit. While having misadventures along the way, of course.
How does my writing process work?
I try to write every day after work. I aim for 1000 words a day, but often have to content myself with fewer. I’m a morning person—well, maybe a day person is more accurate. I refuse to get up any earlier than I already do for work. Weekends, of course, are best. Anything past 8 p.m. and really, I’m no good to anyone.
As for the actual writing… well. I wish I could say I always have a plan before I start writing and follow it until I have a brilliantly plotted story at the end. Ha. In reality, I almost always start with an incident. Something that catches my attention. For The Shoeless Kid, the first in the Mendenhall Mysteries, I saw a shoe abandoned in the middle of the road. And that got me to thinking about how that could have happened.
So I start writing to find out. It’s messy and convoluted and means going back to fix many, many things. It means a lot of swearing under the breath when I realize I have to trash whole scenes in favour of ones that actually fit.
This latest Mendenhall mystery, for instance. I can’t wait to finish it so I can figure out what the darned this is about.
There has to be a better way.
That’s it for me. It feels a little immodest to be discussing myself in detail. Blame Jo Lilley. Now I’m tagging Karen Abrahamson to join the The Writing Process Blog Tour. Go visit her and learn more about her and her writing. She’s a fabulous writer.