“In real life there are rarely happy endings and good intentions seem not so much to go a long way, as take a less than scenic route through psychological no-go zones and ethical minefields.”
I am finally a published writer so I can quote myself, but that one’s a masterpiece of navel-gazing even if I did say so myself. One of the people further back in this blog tag described taking up the challenge of writing about his writing as a blog grenade. A hot potato for sure. And then Tara Sparling went and made it a whole lot harder for me to pick up with her offering by packing the short fuse with wit and sparkle – but at least she kept to the Q&A formula for which I’m more than grateful. ‘Cos it’s easy being a copy cat…
So I’m choosing to put on this mantle and ‘do it my way’ by pandering to my propensity for chamæleon tactics (pardon my dipthong) and employing some of the facets of my fractured writing personality to answer the four loaded questions. And I know – I can see you looking up at the title – that you’re wondering when this triple-faced seer is going to show up. Well, aside from writers having to be good at ‘seeing’ as well, seering is a nebulous state so please don’t get too excited over the meaning, unless it’s to give it one of its earliest definitions as the maiden, the mother and the hag (bit like the Fates, or the Norns). With a touch of crude post-modernism over the mother bit in its rock ‘n’ roll sense…
What am I working on?
Easy peasy – lots of things.
It should be the first book of what I hope will be at least one cyclic trilogy that takes huge liberties with sci-fi, epic fantasy, alternate realities, fossil records and dodgy weather forecasting. Oh, and auspices, with a bit of Celtic and Norse myth thrown up in the air to see where the runes fall.
This is the trouble with me – I like lots of things and they get mixed up, which would be quite exciting except there is a sensible core buried deep within that insists that I try and make it as real as I can. Which is possibly why I had such a hard time nailing down what genre to assign to my debut novel Milele Safari and ended up deciding that it didn’t really matter, aside from it being fiction and mostly written in the style that is known as ‘literary’ which, let’s face it can be interpreted as pretentiously as you like but has its base in being bookish…
But I digress – another absorbing hobby of mine. Other things I’m working on are mostly to do with writing and a lot to do with DreamWorlds Publishing (DWP), the writers community that has grown out of a fan forum some friends and I started back in 2009. Currently this covers working on a new paperback and eBook edition of fellow DreamWorlders, Sue Bridgwater and Alistair McGechie’s classic fantasy, Perian’s Journey. A great story and still available in hardback online, so we’re giving it a tiny dust off with a new cover design and getting it all digitised and out on the virtual shelves later in the year.
Our other major project still in the submissions phase, is an anthology collection of fantasy stories of all descriptions and sources. Submission as a process actually surprised me in a pleasant way, in being a result of social networking (through LinkedIn) – not my favourite thing ordinarily. Most of the chosen stories come from people I didn’t know six months ago, so all to the good in terms of community support. The working title for the anthology is Dreamless Roads (going back to my roots in Tolkien geekery) which may not make it to publication day, but which will be in time for Christmas 2014!
How Does It Differ From Others In The Genre?
Time for face number one please – the dewy-eyed romantic. And the putative trilogy which has been circling at about five and a half thousand words in since last summer. I love fantasy and indulge myself every day on an hourly basis almost. As a genre it can be as wide as you want to push it, but of course people like to compartmentalise, especially traditional publishing houses and money men. But there’s no doubt that fantasy is lucrative within a set limit of trending memes (and other such euphemisms for jumping on a well-worn bandwagon). I like to think of my HavenWorlds (yes, I do like the spherical words) as taking a less well-travelled route in being sci-fantasy fusion with a touch of gelf perhaps (pointy ears are a little passé, plus I’d be tempted to do poetry, which is not always wise).
The cyclic thing is very ‘me’ as well – very keen on re-cycling in my house and really, when you write fiction there are only so many directions in which you can go. If you stick with the post-modern approach then a ‘make do and mend’ attitude can lead into interesting avenues of embroidery and patchwork that would leave even the Mad Hatter feeling a little dizzy. Let’s face it, most people have no idea what they’re doing most of the time and why should writing be any different?
You can take something apart and then put it back together in a wholly amusing and surprising way. And with fantasy it’s easier to take an evangelistic approach, rather like a steampunk version of Charles Darwin. Now that would be a good tangent to go off on…
Why Do I Write What I Do?
Face number two, come on down! Everyone has a maternal side – gender has nothing to with it half the time, but instinct does and with writing fantasy it’s a good thing to be creative as you can. So this is a short(ish) answer you’ll be pleased to know but it’s hard to explain. What I write isn’t always what I think I’m going to write is the answer. And that’s the most exciting thing about writing and also the most frustrating.
You get the light bulb idea, yes, and you walk it as far as you can, but at some stage you have to sit it down and do some nurturing. Try to see what’s really inside and how to bring it out. Like burping in fact – or changing a nappy. There’s almost certainly going to be carrots (well, something orange) in there, but are you really sure you know where it comes from? I like the uncertainty and embrace the hitherto unknown. Why else would anyone chose to be a parent?
How Does My Writing Process Work?
And bring on the grumpy old lady… There are lots of ways to write and also not to write at all when you get blocked. I’ve done the outline thing and kept copious research notes but really, when you sit down to write you’re not always in control of what comes out of your head, down through your pen, or keyboard. I didn’t consciously set out to write what eventually became Milele Safari and there are at least two characters in there that I hadn’t even dreamt up until they had to arrive on the page I was writing. In other words I may start to write with my head, but sometimes the more workaday organs like the heart, or the guts take over and the fingers must follow. Writing fiction of any kind isn’t all about working it out beforehand – that would be very boring indeed.
So yes, the process. Really there’s only one reliable method – write something. It might not be what you’re wanting to, or are supposed to be writing but, if writing is your life, you should write something every day. Even if it’s a post-it note to remind yourself to buy more milk, because you’re going to have coffee, or tea, or whatever sooner or later. And biscuits.
Actually, I’ll let you off writing. What you really need to do is read. Anything. Reading is what made you a writer in the first place – it’s not a chicken and egg situation. You want to write because someone read to you, or taught you to do it yourself. And you loved it. Books are magic places – they delight and inspire you so, when you can’t write, you must read and that’s all you need to know about process. The writing will come eventually, because it has to.
And now the grenade must pass into new hands. I’m afraid the power of three has deserted me as well, but I did manage to find two new writer friends brave enough to take the challenge so, without further ado, let’s introduce them and their blogs –
Hello! I live in Montana with my husband, Thomas Thornburg, and our three elderly but still kittenish cats, Fergus, Zulu, and Spooky. For many long years I taught English Composition courses at Ball State University in Indiana, so if you catch me using inappropriate punctuation, feel free to slap me around as much as you think necessary.
I’ve always loved books, old, new, fiction, non-fiction, you name it. My favorites… well, that list changes every week or two, so I won’t present it here, except to say that my contemporary writing hero is Ursula K. Le Guin.
Teacher, writer, game designer and amateur anthropologist who likes to touch on creative elements to generate a compelling fictional world. Important for writers of all stripes, no?
Have fun with it guys! 😉