My turn! Today the My Writing Process Blog Tour passes through the simply creative borders of Ttown here at Judith Cullen - Stories. In the paragraphs below I’ll answer a few questions about how and why I write, but before I get started I’d like to thank my friend Jackson Arthur, author of PDA and other delightful paranormal science fiction works.
Jackson posted his writing process last week on his Portals – Jackson Arthur’s Universe blog, and I’d urge you to checkout his writing process by clicking here.
Time for the train to chug through this station as the tour thunders on!
What am I working on?
I am working at putting the finishing elements into Miracles: A Trio of Island Tales – the fourth and final installment in this year’s Trio Tales series. It will be released this year, followed by an anthology of the 2013 Trio Tales series with additional short stories and possibly some poetry. Then we start fresh in 2014 with a new series of short story collections!
I also started a project this summer which is turning into a novella length fiction piece, and will probably come out in early 2014, fulfilling my personal goal the develop the "chops" to write longer works. It is a romance and fantasy involving a dark elf, a snow elf, and a diverse community of elves around them. These are not wee elves that make cookies in trees. They are closer to Tolkien’s elves, had his narratives had focused on a working class. It lacks a title yet, but I have hopes one will come to me before I actually “press play” on the release.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?I am, at the moment, primarily a writer of short fiction. I think of it as practice for writing longer chapter books. I like publishing “fictional monographs” on a single subject, and that is what the Trio Tales series is envisioned to be: easy to read and share, suited for electronic devices. It also allows me to explore an array of different subjects and not get boxed into one genre.I am fond of saying I am an author in search of a genre, or perhaps avoiding one.
I haven’t decided whether this is a wise approach or a foolish one yet. It is simply where I am. I tell good stories. The more I tell them, the better they get. They bring me joy, and I am pleased that others seem to enjoy them as well.
Why do I write what I do?“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy...”
So said Shakespeare’s damned Danish prince, and I agree. I believe that we are granted all the magic we need in our lives, for good and ill both. Call it God, the Universe, Karma, call it whatever you will. It is all inside us and we have to make choices about how we use what we were given. That is the journey we call life. I do not pretend to take sides and make choices for other people.
I tend to gravitate towards stories of self-discovery, stories that make you laugh, make you cheer for a character, and leave you with a lingering “hmm…” percolating in your mind. That is what my stories do for me, and I hope those who read them feel the same. I like exploring new places and new environments in my work, and sharing those discoveries in my work.
How does your writing process work?I have worked in theater and opera as a designer for a long time. I recognize there that my best work starts with the germ of an idea. It can be anything: a sleeve joint on a gown, a shape, a texture, a metaphor. In my writing it is much the same thing. What would the world truly look like from the cat’s perspective? What if a technically savvy teenager was suddenly faced with very real legends come to life? What if the thing that haunted you were you own words?
From there the stories build. I have written a mix of stories that are pure fiction, and fictional interpretations of real events. What I have learned so far is that the story and I work in partnership. If I wrench a story in to being, or have an agenda with the story to the exclusion of all else, the writing is not as good. My number one rule is “serve the story, not yourself.” If I open myself up, and remain open to the evolution of the plot, the words and ideas flow.
My best work is when I am emotionally engaged in the plot and its characters, not simply functioning as their puppet master. It is especially fruitful if I am so engaged when I am in "raw text" or "first draft" mode. My fingers will pound at the keys, and sometimes I will barely be able to keep up with where the story is taking me - the "passionate me" hard at it. If the reader cannot connect directly with some character in the piece, whether empathetically or emotionally, the work is flat.When I follow up and refine in a number of subsequent passes, that is time for the "rational me" to be working.
I do my best writing early in the morning or late at night. I need quiet and focus. Because I write primarily short stories, I only use rough notes as outline, but I can already see from my novella project that I will need more structured outlines for longer works.
Because my writing really sprung from my work as a voice artist and presenter of literature, reading my work aloud is crucial. I need to hear it several times. I also find I read it differently if I read it to someone, as opposed to muttering it to myself. If there is a section that doesn’t scan or flow, it becomes obvious read out loud.
I also have a few well-trusted proofreader/beta-readers who give me feedback. I think that will be more and more handy the longer my written works become. It has been a great journey so far, and I look forward to more adventures in that wonderful, ethereal world where it is just me, the ideas, and words. My heart and soul are in my best works. There’s a lot of “Judy” in all my stories.
Thanks for taking the time to read about my writing process. Next week the tour will be visiting long time friend Amy Jarecki. Please be sure to look in on this fascinating and talented lady next week!