Simon Strantzas recently tapped me to continue the “Writing Process Blog Tour” chain that’s currently trending online. He’s a sufficiently awesome and accomplished author to render me flattered that I was even on his radar. And since I update this site with a woeful infrequency, I accepted his homework assignment.
What are you working on?
For the first time ever, I’ve begun seriously thinking of writing a specific novel. It’s still in the “mapping it out in my head” stage, but it is farther along than I planned for it to be at this stage. Otherwise, I’m focused on just writing short stories. I have a rough goal of how many short stories I want to write before I start on that first novel, and I’m not there yet. It’s been a busy year for work and the dreadful “real life,” so I’ve produced very little work. That’s the first order of business: Sit down and write, you fool!
How is your work different from others’ work in the same genre?
I guess I’m a little more fascinated by the literary fiction vs. genre fiction debate than most, and I feel like I blur the line in a different way. I love a good pulp story just like the next reader, and I love holding a sentence in my mouth to savor it. There are, of course, a few masters that have done it brilliantly in the past. I just want to walk the tightrope in my own style, while maintaining the freedom to topple over onto either side when the story needs it.
Why do you write what you do?
Because cliché or no, I am obsessed with rearranging the 26 letters of our alphabet in ways no one else has ever done, in ways that try to capture this whole being-alive thing. Empathy and aging and hope and despair and atmosphere and crawling dread: It’s that fascination with beauty in darkness and darkness in beauty I refer to above. Mix in the strange and, sometimes, the outright weird. Imagine Terrence Malick filming a horror movie.
And because it’s a dream I had for a long time and did absolutely nothing about.
How does your writing process work?
I write with almost total blindness. Like someone walking through a deep catacomb with a dying flashlight, sweeping it across the floor and filming what the light catches glimpses of. (What’s that standing over there in the corner?!) And that same someone, when he emerges into the light, blinks at the bright world.
In order to write toward a hidden end, all I have to do is turn the computer on, block out an hour or two on the schedule, and trust. Too often that is difficult. But the desire to see never goes away.