Welcome to the latest stop on the writing process Blog Tour 2014. I am enjoying the beautiful sunshine and the peace I often find during Easter. I am feeling tranquil, relaxed and really pleased that Julie Stock invited me to join this writing process blog tour. I recommend following her blog, it is a great read and a fascinating glimpse into the process of writing a novel.
The idea of a blog tour is one that appealed to me straight away, I like the sense of community you get from recommending other people’s blogs and it is interesting getting a glimpse into the mind of a fellow writer. The next stop on the blog tour will be Anna Mosca and The Jenny Mac Book Blog – these great blogs will be posting on 28th April. Here is a little bit about them –
I’m an aspiring author Chelsea Brown and I started writing at the age of twelve; after being inspired by my English teacher. I wrote my first short story when I was thirteen and that eventually led to writing my first young adult novel Jenny Mac at fifteen. I’ve been working on Jenny Mac through the years trying to get down a story that I could be proud of. It’s been a nine-year process, but I feel that I am closer to creating a very intriguing story than I’ve ever been before.
Anna Mosca (Milan, Italy) is an artist, a poet and a photographer. Lives for many years abroad until her return to Italy. Started her artistic walk as a painter and sculptor in the United States of America to move to her new phase of “Thoughts Sculpting” around the year 2000. Studied Fine Arts in U.S.A to then continued her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera in Milan, Italy. Her graduating thesis on Conceptual Art is titled: “The Word Becomes Art”. Through the years she planned and realized her own shows and performances of Conceptual Nature, in which she emphasized the use of text. Poetry is a recurrent tool in her expression. In photography as well, where she continues her artistic research, playing with light, spaces and lines her images have the synthetic structure of poetry. She writes poetry in English and Italian
My Writing Process
And without further procrastination here are some questions I have been asked to answer about my writing process –
What am I working on at the moment?
I have a few non-fiction articles I am writing for magazines and websites. I seem to specialise in science-fiction based articles and the occasional film critique. My major projects are my first novel The Paisley Soul of a Stricken Man, an illustrated story The Days of Love and all That Followed and a themed poetry collection called The Tall Man Chronicles. I plan to try and get the novel and illustrated story published via the “traditional” route and am currently in the process of drafting query letters to agents for the illustrated story. I am exploring self-publishing options for my poetry collection.
The novel is a bigger task as it tends to get left to last, the poor thing. If I have an article deadline the novel always gets pushed to the bottom of the queue. I have taken steps to try to remedy this and have designated novel time each week but it is still slow progress. I have recently discovered that the story I am telling is a trilogy (how passé) which has actually solved some issues plot wise in the first book. My plan is to have the first two novels finished in the next 5 years, which seems a long time but the cliché of “time flying” is a reality for me at the moment, so I think 5 years is about right. This includes the time it will take to send the manuscript to the editor and pitch to publishers/agents, so in actual writing time hopefully the first novel will be finished in the next 18 months.
The novel’s plot follows Edgar Choudhury, a 30 something in a dead-end job, whose relationship with his family is defined by the death of his grandfather. His grandfather is killed in a car crash when Edgar is 15 and his already fairly dysfunctional family falls apart. Edgar discovers a time portal in his Nan’s back garden, and the time portal enables Edgar to travel back into his own past, offering him the chance to prevent his grandfather’s death. It focusses closely on one family and the emotional turmoil wreaked by grief – it is funny, sad and it asks the question of whether changing the past will really bring Edgar true happiness and the girl of his dreams or will it just bring further tragedy?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This question has caused me lots of issues. It would seem rather egotistical to state without irony that my work is unique from all others in its genre, not to mention disingenuous. All work is in some ways derivative because we cannot help but be influenced by others and those influences sometimes appear in our work. Even if that influence is a mentor type figure, who has given you strength to try new things, their philosophy is somehow inherent in the words committed to print. There have been time travel novels in the past, and there will be time travel novels in the future (especially if you happen to have a DeLorean handy). My illustrated story has been compared (not by me) to the work of Neil Gaiman, a comparison that I found flattering but any similarities are completely unintentional because I have never read his work before. My work differs from all other work because it has been written by me, and there is only one me, and in that way at least it is unique.
Why do I write what I do?
I write about anything that interests me. For my novel I am writing about some personal experiences and I have found the process cathartic. It is not autobiographical but I have certainly poured some real life experiences into it and it has been really interesting. I like to look at the world for inspiration – nature, society, relationships and politics often get my creative juices flowing but I tend to come at things from an offbeat perspective, not deliberately but things just tend to come out sideways.
Sometimes something very simple like the sun on the pavement or a tree in a neighbour’s garden can give me an idea and it can keep me writing for days. Even if I am writing articles for magazines and the “brief” is to write about a particular topic I try to find an angle that reflects something that is of a personal interest to me. For example I interviewed a Star Trek novelist about a trilogy of books he had written and one of the sub-plots was a miscarriage for one of the main characters. This story arc was only a few lines but it struck me as a really interesting decision by the author and miscarriage conjures up very personal emotions for me, so I asked the author about it and he was very open with his replies. His comments about this were really powerful and they made the final edit and this has proved the most rewarding experience of my article writing career so far.
How does my writing process work?
I recently did an interview with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens (full details and a transcript of our chat will appear on the blog very soon) and in answer to my question about how their writing process worked they remarked that “like Agent Coulson’s Tahiti, our writing process is a magical thing”. It was an amusing answer and it chimed with me because I do not really think about my process, it just happens. On a practical basis my writing routine involves a comfy chair, my desk, hot chai tea, some biscuits and a guitar. I always have a guitar near by for those moments when I am tempted to give up because I find a brief interlude of playing and singing helps get me back in the groove. Despite all that I am still a terrible procrastinator but I think most writers are. I often get epiphanies when waiting for the bus or when I am cycling, that’s why I take my notebook and pen everywhere.
Well that’s it, I hope you enjoyed my random musings and do check out the other posts in the Blog Tour, especially Julie Stock, Anna Mosca and The Jenny Mac Book Blog.
Happy Easter x
This is a brilliant insight into your writing process, John, and I really enjoyed reading it and getting to know you better. It’s funny how you get to know people on the internet but you only get little snippets of who they are so it has been a real pleasure to read this and find out more. Thanks for taking part 🙂
Reblogged this on The Jenny Mac Book Blog.
Wonderful post John and thank you for including me in the writing process blog tour. 🙂
Thanks Chelsea, I look forward to reading your post 🙂
Really interesting, John. Thanks for sharing.