Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Writing Wednesday (Revisting an Old Meme)

I'm reworking a few things and changing my approach to my various works-in-progress, so no Word Count Wednesday this week.  (All three works-in-progress ARE still in-progress; I'm just changing how I'm looking at them, which means reevaluating the targeted word count.)  I still wanted to do something writer-ly at Plan D, though, so I'm looking at an old post from my long-defunct LiveJournal. A meme was making its way around various authors' websites/blogs back then, and I opted to give it a go myself at the time. I'm most interested to see how my outlook may have changed in the past four years.

My present-day thoughts will be italicized.

A meme? A writing meme. (Originally appeared at my LiveJournal page, 7/25/08)

Over at his blog Razored Zen, Charles Gramlich posted A Meme for Writers, and while I only rarely participate in any kind of meme, because this one has to do with writing, and because I'd like to use it to help get the writing wheels spinning a bit faster, I wanted to throw a few words down here.

Your genre(s): I've always played in the realm of the "speculative fiction" and right now, I've got my head and pen firmly planted in the horror genre. Over the years, I've played with fantasy quite a bit, and back in high school, I dabbled in a little bit of science fiction, but I've always felt most comfortable weavewriting horror. Last November (for National Novel Writing Month), I attempted to bridge my interests in fantasy and horror and laid a lot of groundwork for a "dark fantasy" project, but after too many chapters in which the story felt more and more like your "standard" fantasy novel, I set it aside to focus on more short stories. (I may get back to it someday - I never throw away any of my writing.) I'd like to try writing in other genres some day - especially since some of the best writing includes elements from more than one or two(!) - but right now, horror (with a smattering of action) is calling me.

I still identify myself as a horror writer, and most of my writing these days would still be on the horror shelf at your local bookstore (if your local bookstore still has such a shelf). The dark fantasy novel attempt referenced above? I haven't touched it, but I still have it. And it will probably stay firmly trunked where it's at for a long, long time.  For years, I really struggled with the "urban fantasy" label, but I think I have to accept that MAYBE some of what I write might include elements from that sub-genre as well.

How many books are you working on now: Actively working on? Just one. Passively? I've got a handful of projects that are constantly brewing.  

Honestly, I don't remember what book that was. These days, I'm actively working on one novella and two non-fiction pieces.  The other pieces are bubbling inside my gray matter, patiently waiting for their chance to hit paper.

Are you a linear or chunk writer: I'm primarily a linear writer. I've tried writing in chunks, and it's gotten me in trouble before (in that I've written a particular scene detailing the demise of a character that was never intended to survive, but after writing that scene, I became attached to that character so much so that I didn't want to kill her off, and I ended up with more rewriting than intended!).

I'm still a linear writer, but I've been exploring working with outlines more and more, especially for the bigger projects. I think this still counts as being "linear" although I wonder what would happen if I wrote the outline in a linear fashion, but then used it to write the chunks of the story . . .

The POV you're partial to: I'm not a huge fan of first-person perspective. Some of the writers I follow do use this POV, and that's fine. When it's done well, it works well. However, I also sometimes find it to be a cheat. I'm partial to various forms of the third person point of view myself.  

I still tend to struggle with first-person perspective. It's a personal choice/preference, and to be completely honest, I've sometimes put first-person perspective stories down because it (fairly or not) takes more to hook me when I find out the new book I've started is written from a singular character's point of view
The tense you use: I write in the past tense.  

This hasn't changed for me at all.

The theme that keeps cropping up in your books: This was the hardest question for me to answer, and in all truth, I still don't know if I can come up with a satisfactory answer. A lot of my fiction involves characters that are somehow outsiders that a group of doomed "insiders" need in order to reach some sort of goal. Additionally, some sort of secret knowledge (creepy or otherwise!) usually ends up being brought out into the open in most of my stories. Does this all add up to some sort of theme? I don't really know, but I'll keep writing until I find out!

This still finds its way into some of my writing. Something else that's been cropping up is the concept of "found family." The idea of a group of non-related folks coming together and forming a family unit has appealed to be for years.

How many days a week do you write: The quick answer? Not enough! In truth, I'm writing only twice a week some weeks, which is pretty depressing. I need to make more time for it. (The podcast eats up a lot of my time - I love doing it, but I'm not overly comfortable with giving up my writing time for it. I'd be much more comfortable giving up the time I spend, oh, say, sleeping, instead.)

For the past couple weeks, I've been getting up around an hour earlier than I used to and spending almost an hour every morning writing. It's been REALLY good for me (thanks Jason and Joe!), and I'd like to think I've become a much more productive writer because of it. Additionally, I've been a LOT better at balancing my podcast-producing time with everything else in my life.  It's been GREAT!

What time of day do you get your best writing done: This varies. I've found that as long as I'm focusing on it, I can write pretty much any time of the day, although late nights often provide the least distractions.

Now?  The morning.

My favorite authors to read: I'm adding new writers to my "favorites" list fairly regularly, but those that I know I can always count on include: Robert E. Howard, Douglas Clegg, H. P. Lovecraft, Mick Farren and I'm very close to adding Edward Lee to that list.

Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft and Douglas Clegg are still on that list.  I haven't read Mick Farren for years before picking up The Last Stand of the DNA Cowboys a few months back for a re-read of that book.  It's still a favorite of mine, but I can't say I've read a lot of Farren lately.  As for Edward Lee, I went through a Edward Lee spurt during which I read as much of his work as I could, but I haven't gone back to it, either.  If I were to add anyone to that list today, I'd add James Reasoner (I know I keep saying it, but I'm still shocked that I'm reading Westerns regularly these days).

Who are your mentors: I'm going to cheat here. I know very few successful writers "in real life". I follow a few through LiveJournal and MySpace, but I don't have a mentor-mentee relationship with any of them outside of my reading their work on a regular basis. Novels rarely come with "commentary tracks," so I rely on the experience of actually reading the work or following a writer's blog to pick up what mentoring I can.

In September 2010, I was fortunate enough to interview Douglas Clegg for an episode of MOZ Presents: The Munchies.  It was an absolute pleasure to speak with him for much longer than I think he really expected to chat with some zombie movie podcaster about non-zombie subjects, and we spoke a lot about writing in general.  I learned a lot during that conversation, and I'd like to think he's made my writing better because of it.  As for any formal kind of mentor-mentee relationship, I still follow and interact with some writers online.

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