Surprise! I’m back! It feels a little like going back to school (that’s a good thing—it always filled me with delight, strangely enough). More on the goings-on since I’ve been away in my next post, but for now…a blog tour stop for you.
Last week a fantastic author I know, Robin Stevenson, asked if I’d write a post for a blog tour on the writing process. I find writing about writing a good way to get back into the swing of it—kind of a self-reflective pep talk—so I said yes. Plus, process can be strange and frustrating and wonderful (like all things in life that matter) which makes it worth talking about and trying to understand. Reading other authors’ posts about their process has been fascinating and helpful.
I met Robin Stevenson at the Forest of Reading festivities in Ontario, Canada, when our books were both nominated for the Silver Birch Award. I was so excited to be on stage with her when her book, Record Breaker, won the award. Such a well-deserved win! Robin has written sixteen books (and counting) for children and teens and also edits and teaches writing in Victoria, BC. Check out her website: www.robinstevenson.com and her blog tour post about her process here.
And here are my answers to the blog tour questions:
What are you working on?
I’m working on two manuscripts at the moment. One is a YA novel-in-verse that comes after my first novel-in-verse, The Opposite of Geek (it’s not a sequel, but sort of starts where the first left off). The other is a middle grade (prose) novel about a mother-daughter relationship involving abduction.
How does your work differ from other books in its genre?
Well, I’m not sure my books stand out in a broad sense. They feature child and teen characters, deal with social issues, identity, acts of courage, and contain funny dialogue just like many books in their genre do. I guess I try to tackle hard issues with honesty and humour (though that’s not original either, is it?). It’s just the best way I know to get through things, whether in a fictional world or the real one. BUT The Opposite of Geek has one of my brownie recipes at the back. Does that count as being different? And delicious?
Why do you write what you do?
I’m a big believer in not (fully) growing up, so it’s no surprise that I love writing books for kids. I like that kids are creative, active readers who are open to experimentation and new things. This works well for me because I love pushing genre boundaries and just going with my creative whims. Growing up is an intense, confusing and magical time and I love being able to capture that in my writing, partly because I want to re-experience it and partly because I think childhood has a lot to teach me now, as an adult, as well as those I write for.
How does your writing process work?
First I get seduced by an Idea. This can be a character, a place, a situation, but it is always SO BRILLIANT I need sunglasses to look at it and must be in its presence as much as possible. I start frenzied writing down of the Idea and the first 30-40 pages of the story. I usually brainstorm some kind of plot, but it’s more to make me feel better than to actually stick to (which I usually don’t).
Then I get stuck in the Novel Bog. The sticky, mucky place where I realize I’m not as far into the story as I thought, the first act climax keeps getting farther away, not closer, and the original big Idea seemed way better in my head than this jumble of scenes I’ve written. This is the hardest part of the process for me, but once I slog through the bog, it’s usually faster and easier on the other side. There’s also a lot of procrastination in the Novel Bog, so I can often be found in the kitchen, baking cookies or making soup instead of slogging.
Once I’m through all that, I try to weave a plot into the story, do some character building and get myself to the end of the draft. Usually I have lots of ideas for fixing the draft already, but I’m exhausted and need to…take a break to make all the ice cream recipes in one cookbook.
But sooner or later I have an epiphany about a plot point or character and rush back to start revisions on the draft. I LOVE revisions. First drafts are terrible, but they make revisions possible. Like chopping onions, they are a necessary evil.
And now, on to the next blog tour stop! I’m tagging Kim Thompson to post about hers next. I met Kim at the Forest of Reading in Ontario this spring (it’s an amazing place to meet amazing writers!) and also had the pleasure of catching up with her on Salt Spring Island this summer.
Kim Thompson is a filmmaker, television writer and children’s book author. She grew up in Saskatchewan, studied and worked for many years in Toronto, and now lives with her daughter(/boss), on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. Her first novel Eldritch Manor was published by Dundurn Press in the fall of 2012. Check out her author site: www.kimthompsonauthor.com as well as her blog about children’s literature and movies: Rarest Kind of Best.
Happy end of August, everyone!
Ria, I am laughing at how similar our writing processes are. Novel bog! What a great name for it.
I noticed the similarities too, Robin! Next time I’m in the Novel Bog I’ll check to see if you need a pint of ice cream or a batch of cookies. You’d be helping me with my process, after all…:)
Ah yes, the bog! So frustrating after the brilliance of the brilliant idea. Love this post and agree about resisting growing up and procrastinating with food. Was just considering biscuits actually…hmmmm…what am I avoiding… X
Do let me know what kind of biscuits you make, Hannah!