My Writing Process: The Blog Relay

 In Amy Robinson, My Writing Process

First, and most importantly, a tip o’ the hat to to Broos Campbell for looping me into this “My Writing Process” blog relay.

Broos is a spectacularly brilliant writer, having published 3 novels in the Matty Graves series. Start with No Quarter and you’re plunged into some salty naval shenanigans that will propel you back in time to the late 18th century and soak your brain in the rough and tumble Caribbean during the Quasi War. He’s currently working on The Crazy Adorable Faces, about a teen-girl who, among other things, is hunting ghosts, including those of her recently disappeared parents. I hope to see that in print sometime very soon. Waiting for the ending is, literally, killing me.

Ok, enough about Broos, more about me, me, ME! These writing process posts are supposed to land on Monday, but I’m on Writer Standard Time, so let’s just pretend you’re looking at this 3 months into the future and have to page back to June 3rd in your calendar to find out that I’m a day late. This type of behavior isn’t terribly unusual, I’m finding.

Here’s the game: I answer four questions about my work and my writing process, find writers who are willing to be mentioned and do the same next week, and then I toss the baton over to them and we’ll gather around our glowing screens to click forward and find out what THEIR writing process looks like. On board? Good! Go get some snacks and keep on scrolling!

What am I working on?

Your Mom. Oh, man, I’m so sorry.

What I’m actually working on is a novel. It’s about the relationship of a father and daughter, the roles that change as children turn into the caregiver. The daughter has to accept her father’s limitations now that he has started sliding into dementia.

They also have to fight a possible world-destroying demon, drawn forth by a vengeful woman from a powerful book made from human flesh and inked in blood. They have to do that while trying not to contract the Spanish Flu as they have accidentally traveled back in time.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I bring a bit of the lit-fiction touch to this adventure/horror-ish/demon story. My main focus is the turmoil of life events many of us have to face; aging parents. The action of the story is deeply important, but the main focus of my protagonist, Jill, is how she faces her Dad’s mortality. I love seeing her honest reaction to standard circle of life experiences, and how she grows because of all that and the other big doings going on around her, like saving the world and falling in love and stuff.

I also have a dry/weird sense of humor, so while we worry about Jill, and the world, we’ll also be laughing at the absolutely, obvious ridiculousness of life.

Why do I write what I do?

Even though I thought lit-fiction was the place for me, (I’ve 1/2 a finished novel in that genre), I was drawn to write Livre des Morts (Morty for Short) because the idea kept tapping me on the shoulder. When I started down the road, it turned into a LOT of fun to write. Now I’m working out the ending and going back to drop in the juicy bits in the first 2/3rds. I’m loving these characters and really want to help them all do the right thing.

I try to add humor to most everything I write, because, as the Poet Ron Koertge once said “The world is tough enough, I want to give you something to laugh at.” (I’m paraphrasing, he said it at a reading and I didn’t write the quote directly.) Sure, I’ll write some stuff like The Last of the Honey and make your eyes leak a little, but for the most part, I’d like to leave you with a chuckle, even if it is at my expense.

How does my writing process work?

Process Step 1. Remove cats from desk

Writing Process Step 1. Remove cats from desk

Writing is like exercise. You have to keep doing it, every day, so you don’t get winded climbing stairs. I like to sneak in, at minimum, a 10 minute free-write every day. That way I keep the ole mental functions oiled and my lungs in shape.

I prefer to write in the morning, usually after said exercise. The best ideas usually glide up to me on the treadmill, on a run or in the shower while I have soap in my hair. I try to jot those down, add them to my current manuscript where appropriate or write them up as detailed as possible. I treat this time as if it were a meeting with the IRS. I have to be here with that old chestnut, put your butt in chair. Here comes the tricky part.

Discipline is the only way any words actually make it onto the page. For the piece I’m working on now, I’ve been interviewing my protagonist and her love interest for about a week. We’re finding out all sorts of juicy things together. I’m also creating a world and a language. Which makes me feel immensely powerful and also overwhelmed at how much detail I have to build. That leads me to researching things online, which leads to me checking Facebook, which leads to me turning off the light and assuring myself I’m going to “do that tomorrow”.

Le Purple Binder

Le Purple Binder

I do a combination of notebook/hand-writing and working on the computer. I find the action comes to me easier on the computer and the sensory details come easier with a pen in hand. Livre des Morts (Morty for Short) has been printed up and is in a big, purple binder, so I can add notes by hand.

The Handoff

Lorinda Toledo is a lovely person and writer I met at the amazing Writing Pad LA. She has written for some major pubs (LA Weekly, USA Today, The Washington Post) and pens up a pretty inspirational blog about running and writing and pushing herself (and ourselves) to do both. I can’t wait to read her upcoming novel about her home state of New Mexico!

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