A few weeks ago, a colleague and friend of mine, Ken Wachsberger, asked me if I wanted to take place in the Writing Process Blog Tour. I balked at first. I’m in the middle of a move across the country (well, I’ve moved, but my husband and the stuff are still coming) and the stuff that goes along with all this is monumental and never ending. And…process? I’ve never been able to describe it. Seriously. I just write. I’m one of those people who is baffled by this. I go to get a haircut, and I have no idea how to tell the person what I want. Also, I’ve resisted trying to understand my process. I don’t want to understand it – I’m afraid I’ll ruin it with too much examination.
But Ken, in his determined way, persisted. So I jumped on. Why not?! I’ve done a lot of jumping lately. I think highly of Ken, who I originally met when I worked for him as a freelancer, via Cengage Learning. Ken’s accomplishments are huge and his writing makes a difference. Check out his press and his offerings. He’s been an enthusiastic supporter of my work.
Okay, here are the Writing Process Blog Tour questions.
What am I working on?
Right now I’m working on two very different things. I’m revising a novel called The Vast Land, which takes place in North Dakota and centers around a troubled mother/daughter relationship. The mother is an artist who is losing her sight; the daughter is down and out in Las Vegas and must return home to make amends with her mother. It’s about learning to become vulnerable, and risk again, when you’ve been damaged.
My publisher has also asked me if I might have another cat fantasy novel ready for submission this fall (and publication next year). (My first cat fantasy novel, The Great Purr, is coming out this June.) I do have a second cat fantasy in the works and need to take a hard look at it to see if I can get it ready in time.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I have a tough time answering this, and I think readers are better equipped than I am to comment. I’m too close to my work. If I had to guess, I would say that I’m fascinated with everyday wonder, magic, and mysticism – but I’m not sure that’s so unique. I’ve been told I write compelling and strong characters. I care about Place and I’m fascinated with how it shapes people. Places have different personalities and nuances. I love nature. All this stuff comes up in my work, though I’m not sure that makes me any different. Every writer and artist brings their own filters, perceptions, experiences, style, interpretation, etc. to their work.
Why do I write what I do?
Hmm. Again, I don’t know. It just comes. Really. I write to express myself. Creativity gives me a feeling of newness and beauty. I like creating beauty. I like language and words. It makes me feel complete, though I do many things in addition to creative writing.
My creative writing seems to fall into two general piles – “literary” and cat-related. The cat connection is obvious – I love cats and I am fascinated with the bond between humans and animal companions. The animals have certainly taught me to be a better human. My memoir Driving with Cats is all about this. Cat fantasy writing is just sheer fun. I love to read good cat fantasy (Tailchaser’s Song, The Book of Night with Moon, The Wild Road, etc.) and I love to write it.
My literary fiction (My Heart is a Mountain and Voice Lessons) is shaped by my fascination with place, people, and human transformation. I’m always interested in what’s possible. Some people call it “spiritual,” though I’m not necessarily thinking about that when I write. It just comes.
How does my writing process work?
My process has been sloppy lately as I’ve let our Big Move (we hadn’t moved for 20 years; and I hadn’t moved out of MN for many more years) overtake my life. But I’m settling back into my process. The best process for me is to attend to creative writing first during the day, after yoga and exercise. Otherwise, it becomes too much of a war between creative writing and writing that I do to make a living, and that gets difficult. So things work for me best when I write first. I can write pretty fast if needed (4-10 pages in an hour or two) but I’m not a writer who can sit and write all day. I need to move my body and it objects if I sit for too long. Given the distractions of life, and also that I freelance (because I’m pretty independent and would probably have a hard time working for another), I’m actually amazed at the rate I’m producing and publishing work.
Now, introducing my colleagues and friends – Kristy and Carolyn are Minnesota authors who I’ve been honored to work with and meet – we share the same publisher. Kristy and I will be doing some joint events in June – check out my event page here. At any rate, here’s more about Kristy and Carolyn, who will pick up the Writing Process Blog Tour with their own blogs:
Kristy Abbott is the author of the novel, The Ghosted Bridge, a ghost story set against the backdrop of Minnesota’s I35W Bridge collapse. She also wrote the children’s picture book, Finding Home, the story of a homeless cat searching for a name and a forever family (both from North Star Press of St. Cloud, Inc). Kristy is a working online content freelance writer and tennis teaching professional. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her blog at kristyabott.com.
Carolyn Boehlke was born and raised in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and began writing stories as a child. She moved to Minnesota to attend college at St. Olaf where she majored in English and Women’s Studies and later she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Hamline University. After teaching college level writing for many years, she now coordinates the Writing Center at White Bear Lake Area High School. Her debut novel, Chasing the Moon was published in June 2013, and her next novel, Literaria will be released in June 2014. Read more at www.carolynkboehlke.weebly.com
A cat pic, just because. Kali (above) is one of the critical characters in The Great Purr, in print June 1.