Blog hops are great ways to connect readers and writers to each other through an ongoing and detailed thread that reveals something about each contributor to the blog hop. This particular one focuses on writing processes, which should be fun because I often think about my writing processes but rarely do I try and pin them down and examine them thoroughly.
I have to thank Dominic Giuliani from Eternal Domnation for throwing the Blog Hop my way. He’s a brilliant writer who is currently working on two novels (and his third project, life, in his own words) but who has always swept me away with his blog posts since I first started blogging way back in early 2012. He writes passionately, with an emotional rawness that is very authentic and touching – you are drawn into it from the first sentence. To put it simply, he is somebody I have always looked up to a lot in the blogging world, and will continue to do so. Just read his post on this blog hop here and you’ll see what I mean!
Now, onto the questions. And for once, I won’t promise I’ll be brief. But I’ll try to be honest and am taking my time to answer these the best I can. And I’ll only sometimes be silly, I swear.
What am I working on?
Much like in most areas of my life, in my writing life I have several writing projects going at the same time. The main one right this minute I suppose is what I’ve been focusing on in both Camp NaNoWriMos this year in April and now in July – funny short stories. I have pledged for both months to write 30 000 words of short stories in the humour genre, and April was a big success as I wrote a bunch of children’s stories for adults, essentially. The general premise was that a cat (of course it had to be a cat) had decided it was sick of being mistreated by humans (mostly its neighbour) and so it educated itself and slowly designed an elaborate system to help educate all the other animals around the world in the way of the humans, including, most notably, language and communication. So the stories had a cute feel to them because of the animals, but the humour was more adult (and quite silly). Bizarrely, what started out as a desperate idea turned into a lot of fun, and I will return to write more stories on this collection. This month I am trying to write completely disconnected short stories that have nothing to do with each other, just to see how I go with it when I have to think up a new premise each time. So far the main characters of each separate story include a cat lady (not quite what you think), a candle, a leaf, and an ant. I wonder what I’m putting in my coffee every morning… (EDIT: I took so long to finish this post it’s now August and the verdict is in – the short stories got even weirder. But there were some okay ones in there too).
Aside from this, I have an old novel (a psychological thriller) I am trying to rewrite from a few years ago. I have quite a lot of other half finished novel drafts, some of which are deserving of more attention, some of which I might just let sink away. Then I also have this blog, which I am trying to write more for this year than I did last year, and my second blog (see my side menu) which is another place for me to indulge my silliness by writing silly lists of things. I’m sure there’s some other project I’m forgetting here, but maybe that says something in itself.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Well, this isn’t a simple question to answer considering I have never really committed myself to any one genre. But I guess lately I’ve been focusing more on comedy, and I take my inspiration from a lot of places – several hundred DVDs of comedies and stand up comedians, goodness knows how much comedy on CD, countless novels and other books by comic writers, and to top it all off I’m a silly person. I guess there is that old idea about how all comedians have some sort of underlying issue that makes them turn to comedy, like something eating away at them from inside, or, as my mum once put it “they have a hole in their heart”. It’s an interesting idea but I don’t think it’s true in every single case, and I know for me I love comedy and love trying (key word trying) to be funny because I like laughing and making other people laugh. I just think people in the world don’t laugh enough, simple as that. I have no real problems in my life. I face similar hardships to everybody else, but really my comedy isn’t trying to patch some hole in me. So maybe that makes it different? I don’t know.
But even when I’m trying to write seriously, my silliness and sarcasm sneak into my work. I can’t help it. It just happens. And the very few people who have read any of my fictional work often comment on how much of me is in my work, even though the voice does seem distinctly different from the voice I use to talk to them normally.
I guess eventually I’ll publish something and see what the people say about what separates my work from others in the genre. Might turn out it’s just too much coffee.
Why do I write what I do?
Oops I kind of just answered that, about the whole thing of wanting to make people laugh. Well, that’s part of it anyway. I think I always have a lot of stories floating around in my head. Even when I sit there sometimes and say to myself “I can’t think of anything to write a story about”, it always turns out I’m lying to myself because within a couple of minutes I’ll be writing a story. For me it really is a compulsion to write, something that I’ve had since I was a very young boy (my imagination was a bit too wild when I was very young and my earliest teachers struggled to figure out what was going on in my head. It took until I was about 8 or 9 years old before I started to tame some of my ideas slightly by writing them down into stories). When I don’t write for a while, because life gets in the way sometimes, I find myself missing writing. I find myself thinking about all the stories I’m going to write when I get a chance. Even if I do write a lot in a few massive bursts each year, the resting time between each writing burst is still spent pondering things I can turn into stories. Yesterday, for example, when I was exploring the history of a fairly big city in Sweden which was fought over with Denmark a few hundred years ago, I couldn’t help but think of all the stories hiding in that period of time.
I guess I write because I have to write, but also because I want to write. My experiences and who I am just change the direction of my writing at different points in my life, that’s all.
How does my writing process work?
I got ahead of myself again. Oh well. So yeah I write in short sharp bursts. NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo help encourage this, but probably I write 4 or 5 times a year for a month or maybe a few weeks each time, then I go back to the drawing board to come up with new ideas, hone old ones, spend more time reading to find new inspirations, stuff like that. My blogging is nonstop really, but I do have months where I write 3 or 4 times a week and then months where I write once a week if I’m lucky. I find with blogging I have to sit down and have a chat with myself and make me promise me that I’ll stick to a routine of it. Without that promise, I slack off. Weird, I know.
When I write, I write fast. Really fast. Apparently at full speed I write close to 100 words a minute which is really quite insane when I think about it. I think when I first write a story I just have to pin it down and write the whole thing from start to finish and see what will happen, before I go back and do anything to it. Maybe this comes from not planning often (and when I do plan it often doesn’t work out – last year I planned for months on a novel, writing maybe 40 pages of notes as preparation, and then the story sucked. Taught me a thing or two).
I write with music but when I edit or read over my work increasingly I am turning the music off. I have long been interesting in how music influences the writing – whether I pick music to match the scene I’m going to write, or if the music directs the scene subconsciously, I haven’t quite figured out. But I tend to not have too many other distractions. I usually write at home, except for poetry which I write anywhere and everywhere (I am trying more and more to write poetry outside).
At the end of the day, I’m my own worst critic and I’m only happy and hopeful about a small number of things I have written. But I do know I’m getting better, after some 20 years of story writing. I know that as long as I keep pushing myself, as long as I don’t take no for an answer when I challenge myself to some crazy writing challenge, as long as I keep expanding my ideas more with both my writing and reading, I’ll keep improving and will one day publish something. Heck, I might even get a few readers of my fiction. We’ll see.
I’m passing this blog hop on to Amanda from Storyteller In The Digital Age. I think Amanda was one of the first bloggers I met back in 2012, and her blog focuses mostly on the life of an aspiring writer in these modern times. On top of her own writing experiences and book discussions, her blog also makes her love for both Stephen King and cats (especially her cat, it is a cutie too!) abundantly clear, and that’s no bad thing. She’s an awesome person and an awesome writer, and definitely somebody I look up to in the blogging and writing world, so go check her out if you haven’t already discovered her on your travels through the blogosphere!
Now, I have a few hundred photos to sort out from this Swedish road trip and then I can get to work on the biggest series of travel posts I have ever written on this blog (which, as I have promised, will be wordy and picture…y….indeed).