I love to talk about blogging and writing. Sometimes, I like talking about blogging and writing more than actually blogging and writing. Talking about the process makes it feel real somehow, like there is truly some method to this madness. "You see…the muse always comes if I sit at a desk facing south, cross my feet at the ankles (left over right), tilt my head to the right and close my left eye while humming 'I am a yankee doodle dandy' and rest my fingers lightly on the keyboard…"
So when Tracy asked me if I'd be interested in going the conversation about writing process, I said "Heck yeah!" without hesitation and I now present to you my writing process.
1. What am I working on now?
I am currently revising my manuscript which is a collection of essays that weaves together memories from my childhood with my own experience as a lesbian mom. I finished the first draft in December and "currently revising" is probably a generous declaration because - right now - I have been spending more time running VillageQ and producing Listen To Your Mother than actually writing. There was also that unfortunate day when I should have been writing but spent more hours than I'd like to admit watching Dolly Parton videos on YouTube.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I was a storyteller…then a blogger…and now I consider myself a blogger and writer. In the writing I do offline, my work is a bit different that traditional memoirists because I am an essayist and I think I am drawn to that form because I've blogged for eight years and short form writing comes naturally to me. As for my online writing, I don't know that my work differs much from other bloggers. I am definitely in the storytelling blogging camp and tend to be connected to other bloggers who land there as well.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I believe that storytelling and personal narrative have the power to change people - the writer and the reader. So, I write about my experiences as a lesbian and mother so that I can make sense of it all and also be a visible presence online. I also write because I have this drive to understand my past, to examine my life and find some meaning there. If something I write makes one other person feel better about who they are as a person or a parent, then I feel like I've done something worthwhile.
4. How does my writing process work?
I have noticed that I can blog anywhere - in bed, on the couch, at a coffee shop - but when I write longer pieces that are not for the blog, I need to sit at my desk.
As for the specifics, my process can manifest in two ways...
The Good Writing Day
When I sit down to write an essay, I have a basic idea and know the emotional tone I want to explore. I then find a song that takes me to that emotional place. The lyrics are less important than how the song makes me feel. Once I am feeling the feelings, I write, laying down the basic ideas of the essay. When specific words and phrases pull me, I go with them so some parts are absolutely the way I want them on the first pass. Other parts are rougher and I try not to dwell on that. When it's all down, if I have time, I immediately go back through it and type in and highlight notes to myself like "TRANSITION" or "EXPAND" or specific notes about anecdotes I want to include. When I revise, I listen to the song again and it takes me right back to the feelings I had when I first drafted the essay.
This means that my manuscript actually has a soundtrack!
The Bad Writing Day
I come up with a good idea for an essay and sit down at my desk to write. I need a song so I listen to 15 second clips of 1,393 songs only to find they are all wrong! Then, I go onto YouTube and watch every single video of every artis I've ever liked. Tweet and Facebook - "Guys! Remember Styx? Let's all listen to The Grand Illusion today!" Spend way too much time on Twitter and Facebook before finally directing myself back to the writing task at hand. Accept that there is no song for this idea and then question whether or not the idea is even any good. Sit down. Focus. Fingers on keyboard. Nothing. Break for lunch. Lunch goes long because I need to prove to my son that I'm hardcore enough to play Minecraft on the PC. Then, I sit back down at my desk and type the opening sentence. Delete it. Write a new one. Delete that one. Tweet and Facebook about The War of Art and resistance. Get back on task and then write another sentence. Write and delete for all of allotted writing time and realize that hours of work have yielded 263 words that I hate.
Interestingly, with blogging, it all comes easy and I can't explain it. I think part of that may be that I put less pressure on myself.