Thanks to CaffeMaggieato over at Just Get It Written and Bob Byrd at Byrdwords for asking me to participate in the My Writing Process blog hop. I thought I would use the invitation to tell you a little bit about one of the projects I am working on. JM Filipowicz tapped me for the tour back in April, so I won’t be passing the baton on to anyone else at this time.
What Am I Working On? I am playing with a little piece about some big ideas – faith, loss of control in the face of death, identity. You know, something light to read on the beach. A possible tagline for the story could be – a socialite, a scientist, and a priest walk into a cancer center and wait. It’s working title is “Purgatory” and it will probably end up being a novella rather than a novel. Because the subject matter is heavy, I am trying to keep it rather short and inject a bit of humor. Still, it is a serious piece.
How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre? That is a good question because I am not entirely sure what genre this piece is yet. It would certainly fall under literary women’s fiction since the plot revolves around one woman’s internal journey, but it might also fall under Christian fiction because there is a fair amount of discussion of faith-based issues. I do not fully understand the rules of that genre, so I will have to run it by someone who does before deciding if I should market it to those readers. What makes “Purgatory” a bit different is that the characters are struggling to come to terms with their illness while also struggling to maintain their public lives.
Why Do I Write What I Write? In general, I write because I can’t help it. The characters in my head keep talking to me until I write down their stories. Also, as Joan Didion so eloquently said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” It’s no coincidence that both my novel, How To Climb The Eiffel Tower, and this piece are about people struggling to come to terms with their cancers. Much of this work was originally drafted in the years after my own cancer journey. It has taken me more than a decade to gain enough perspective on cancer to write about a fictitious character’s journey.
How Does My Writing Process Work? This project is being cobbled together from the characters I cut out of the early drafts of How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. I didn’t really know where that story was going at first so it had a huge cast that eventually got whittled down. I liked the characters of Gigi Fortsen and Fr. Mike, so I stuck them in the file cabinet until I was ready to write their stories. As far as process goes, I started with a few characters and a few snippets of conversation and started building a story from their. This is not a particularly plot driven piece, so character and relationship development has been my focus. I needed some structure for the story. At first, I was using the stations of the cross and the season of Lent as a structure, but I couldn’t make it work. Now, I am using the five stages of grief as a framework for the story. They are far more straightforward and intuitive. The reader may not even be conscious of the characters moving through the stages.
Thank you to Luccia Gray at Rereading Jane Eyre for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. It is a fun way to get to know other bloggers. Unfortunately, I had already been awarded that honor back in 2012. It’s been a while, so I will play along and tell you a few new things about myself.
- The more I write short stories, the more I see the same motifs emerging in them. It seems like the story always revolves around food and someone always ends up dead. I think I might eventually put together a collection of them.
- Although I live in North Carolina, I am a New Englander. I miss the snow and cool fall weather. I still haven’t adjusted to the humidity in the south.
- I was born overseas. My dad was working as an overseas rep for an American aeronautical controls company and was based out of Madrid. Officially, my mother and older brother were “in storage” outside Boston for the five years we lived there. Judging from the pictures and home movies, we had a wonderful time in Spain.
- I love British television mystery series. I watch and rewatch old episodes of Miss Marple and Foyle’s War whenever I get a chance. I also liked Wire In The Blood, Waking the Dead, and Luthur. My family refuses to watch network crime shows with me because I can usually figure out who did it by the first commercial. Apparently, that is annoying.
- My most frequently writing companion is my 18 year cat, Ginger. She is on her last legs these days, yet still a great listener and sharp critic. If she thinks a sentence isn’t up to snuff, she turns her little nose and starts licking her paws.
- I have a serious office supply addiction. When I moved my office from the storage room to the spare bedroom, I found drawerfuls of pens and markers and highlighters. It was difficult to cull them down to a reasonable amount and organize them. Even then, I couldn’t help myself from buying some sweet Japanese pens from a cute store in the Kennedy Airport the other day.
- I am a firm believer in critique groups. I have been in many over the years. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. They are always useful.