Yesterday I came upon a lovely, young blogger at the start of her writing career. Melodious, emotive and beautiful–her blog home invited me to stay a while, and I realized I could be there for hours, not only reading her provocative posts but the pithy responses of her throngs of responsive readers. Impressive, I’ll say. So if you’re looking for a blog spot, Beloveds, follow the link to her site here on WordPress. You’ll find her in the Land Down Under, writing!
Thus, without further fanfare, what follows are my answers to her questions on Writing.
1. WHERE DO YOU WRITE?
I write at the dining-room table right now. A few weeks ago, I wrote at the front-room table, where I sat cross-legged on stacked pillows on the carpet, my back against a sofa. Neither place seems as comfortable as when I wrote seated in a swivel, aerodynamically designed chair at a proper writing desk a couple years back. Life is a dynamic manuscript that, like the circumstances of our lives, shifts and changes, is edited and revised, ever survives being flapped out and lovingly ironed, can yet be lifted from the keyboard wrinkled, and means nothing unless it is shared.
2. WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
Although I write almost daily now, it is my habit to meditate about something writing related each day. In my writing meditations, ideas and notions download into my mind and support my next writing session in ways I might not have fathomed had I closed myself to the necessity of quiet time to sit in a story sans pen in hand. There are times I ponder what is characteristically trumpeted about daily writing, though.
According to Walter Mosley, “If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day… You don’t go to a well once but daily. You don’t skip a child’s breakfast or forget to wake up in the morning…”
True. I understand and appreciate the wisdom in Mosley’s words, but I AM a writer, no matter how many times I scratch my head to dislodge doubt whenever she creeps through my locs, whispering suspiciously about my want to open to another undertaking.
My other writing habits are as follows: to read and network with other writers; to blog to explore the wilderness of myself; to fine tune my writing via different projects, using variant voices, stretching to appreciate my growth and pushing myself on to reach writing plateaus I set for myself; and to pen and perform poetry to cull my emotional landscape. I rarely write to a word count. Somehow that practice stifles me. Of their own accord, my eyeballs begin to massage the word count, and I find myself not as immersed in the emotional fabric of my story elements and not as keyed into chronicling what my characters are saying, doing.
Once it was my writing habit to write leisurely letters, sharing the minutia of my days with beloved friends. I no longer do that. Sometimes I blame social media for the disappearance of this art, one I truly adored, but in all fairness I’d have to say writing on a computer simply does it for me now. Even though I craved shopping for pens and stationary, I yet bowed to the immediacy of sending an email, text or e-card. Who knows? Maybe one day I shall return to writing letters, as I am a writer who cherishes reading published letters of people who intrigue me.
3. HOW DO YOU WRITE YOUR FIRST DRAFTS?
Once I have the idea for the novel and my protagonist has taken shape in my head and whispered to me enthusiastically, I sit to plot the novel in a notebook. Sometimes I write character descriptions. Most times not. Jotting down tags that assist me in staying true to characters helps, so I’m remembering to do this more and more. As I’m writing and I discover I need to do research, I continue writing and schedule time to get the research done. I may change this to experience having the research provide a tapestry for the story to support me in character motivation, setting and plotting. I enjoy change, seeing the storyboard from different angles.
I give myself a writing timeline, tentative start and stop dates, so that I feel the urgency and excitement to keep moving. No, these dates are not set in stone; they are only signposts. Life doesn’t wait. Each day flows seamlessly into the next. Writers must flow the same way, if our books are to speak for us. I adore seeing my name in print and having the world read my work. Simultaneously, I am ever cognizant of the indie author’s bane of not waiting to allow the writing to ripen, to be all that it can be before it sees the light of publication.
Today, I am learning to press on, writing and dreaming, dreaming and researching, and writing and writing some more. No more falling into the error of my yesteryear ways: write a chapter, proofread and revise it and move on to the next chapter. It is the likely combination for chaos and never finishing. The manuscript crawls painstakingly slow. The margin to give up or loose track of the fire that set the story into place peters out with so much starting and stopping. Blockbuster fiction writer, Fiona Zedde once told me, “Just finish the damn thing, Claudia!” I’d been editing my sophomore novel for almost 12 years. So quit editing yourself. You don’t know what the story is about, until you get it out and pass it along to your editor.
4. WHICH WRITERS HAVE MOST INFLUENCED YOU OR INSPIRED YOU?
Toni Morrison’s canon of work has most inspired me of all the writers I have read, loved and taught. Her novels inspire me to greatness. What she does with the word is a lesson in not only writing but life. She crafts her tomes seemingly effortlessly, although I have imbibed countless interviews in which she described the weight of the sentence, where every word is needed to support the whole, where if one word was removed, the sentence would topple. I love the emotional weight of her work. Her historical classics will ever grace my shelves. When I come away from her work, I am drenched, inspired, alive, educated and tempered.
I have been fed and influenced by the works of Audre Lorde, Gloria Naylor, Maya Angelou, Octavia E. Butler, Alice Walker, Jewelle Gomez, and Sapphire, among so many, many others.
5. WHAT GENRE(S) DO YOU (ASPIRE TO) WRITE?
To date, I have written in both fiction and nonfiction genres. I am the author of 2 novels, DOLLY: THE MEMOIRS OF A HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE and IF YOU LOVE ME, COME. Wanda B. Wonders is the feisty leading lady of my serialized story collection, WANDA B. WONDERS SPEAKS HER MIND. SOFT TSUNAMI is the title of my premier poetry collection.
I joined plumes with awe-inspiring writers, Fiona Zedde and Sheree L. Greer, to pen a screenplay based on Zedde’s classic novel, BLISS.
In the nonfiction genre, I aspire to write Narrative Nonfiction, Essays and my Autobiography. As for fiction, I aspire to pen Drama, Fantasy, Historical Fiction and Mystery. The horizon is my lit laptop screen!
6. WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?
To live by the fruits of my writing is my biggest challenge as a writer, even though I know there are no guarantees.
7. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get a professional editor, if you intend to make writing your number-one love. Develop a relationship with this person or, if you forge ahead and develop a partnership with three editors, to form the trilogy, cherish it. Learn to be malleable. Soak up the lessons. They aren’t burdens; they’re insurance policies for your craft and its future. Writing is truly rewriting. The more you do it, the better you become. Your editor(s) will support you in recognizing when it’s time to release your manuscript. A manuscript that never exits the editing mill will probably never feel the sun of publication.
Peace, Love & Light