Now for the writing process blog tour, which is a real unpoetic mouthful but really fun to write. Thank you Lisa Dusenbery for inviting me to participate in this writing tour (read Lisa's post here). Lisa was the former managing editor at the Rumpus and I can’t wait to read more of her writing. Watch this one!
Another inspiration for this was Joshunda Sanders’s writing process post. I have been lucky to work with her at Bitch and she is full of excellent writing wisdom that you can get delivered straight to your inbox.
Now here's me!
What are you working on?
I just finished writing my first screenplay (!) in a short film collaboration with director Dawn Jones, who is an inspiration (check out her current project, Sista in the Brotherhood here). Writing a screenplay sometimes seemed easier than writing fiction because you get to make everything so expository (“DAVID walks across the room! DAVID looks a little dejected!”) At other times, the exposition got in the way and I missed being able to write something more subtle or open to interpretation. And when I found out I wasn't allowed to explain to the actors exactly how to deliver my absolutely airtight dialog?!
In some respects it made me glad to be a writer—you’re in complete control of every aspect of the work. On the other hand, the collaborative aspect of making a film is not only fun, but opens you up to this same a-ha! moments that come with writing.
I’m also doing final line edits on a short story about a guy named Sean. What started as pure torture has become pretty soothing. Turns out tweaking words on a sentence level can be a welcome respite from more unmanageable, off-the-page issues.
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
While it's not groundbreaking, I’ve noticed my fiction includes the internet and social media. I’m fascinated by how people use social media to present themselves in a certain fashion or—best/worst of all—when people unintentionally reveal their true selves through a telling status update. While I'm old enough to remember a time without wifi, today texting, Facebook, Instagram, etc., are so much a part of interpersonal relationships and communication that it's impossible for me to not include it, and I guess I've been surprised at how many contemporary stories I read that manage to not have a single cell phone.
Why do you write what you do?
I’ve found that I tend to write awkward and romantic situations (sometimes at the same time!). Two situations that I both delight in and cringe at.
How does your writing process work?
I have a lot of difficulty motivating myself to write, no matter how many times I read If You Want to Write. It's a procrastination thing, a self-doubt thing, and a time-life management thing that I'm sure many writers are familiar with. With the story I'm currently revising, I was pretty down about it at times and loathe to read it again, let alone make it into something publishable. But I was thinking about how the protagonist Sean is also this self-loathing artist and... I don't know, I felt like I owed him something. And now here I am, rewriting sentences because I think the world needs to hear about his stupid problems.
I guess what I mean is that I sometimes have to tap into that ugly place of self-loathing, really reach my hand into the muck to find that one shining stone that reminds me why I'm doing this. I recently saw Wells Tower, one of my favorite contemporary writers, speak on revision. He had a lot of de-motivating motivating things to say: that he would write down all his terrible feelings in a separate document, that he left the draft of his first manuscript sitting in its FedEx box for months, that no one will hate your writing as much as you do. It sounds unhealthy but I think about those things often and it's what makes me open up that Word document for the 22nd time and trudge on.
Wow, things got dark there, lol!
To keep the writing process train chugging, I’m tagging Tamara Winfrey Harris, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with at Bitch, but who also contributes to Clutch, Racialicious, the Guardian, HuffPo, Psychology Today, the list goes on. She is working on her first book, an exploration of black women and culture, and I think it's going to be absolutely stellar!
I’m also tagging Sarah Marshall, who is a Bitch contributor, fiction writer, adjunct professor, and wrote that amazing Tanya Harding piece for The Believer. I was lucky to be in a writing workshop with her many moons ago and today she works next door to my office!
I'm also tagging Amy Lam, my latest partner in crime at Bitch Media. Amy has a sharp eye, great personality, and is also a writer outside of her job and I'm partially tagging her in this to hear more about her work ; )