Writing Process Blog Hop

March 25, 2014 § 14 Comments

Miranda, a dear friend who blogs as Author Miranda Stone,   has invited me and three other writers to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop. I have no idea where this idea comes from: it’s a hybrid – a cross between an interview and an award. Nevertheless, I’ve decided it’s a good thing, as writers are pretty nosy when it comes to finding out what goes on in other writer’s heads! It’s also allowed me to articulate what goes on in mine, as I generally never give it a moments thought!

A little about Miranda. Her gift is unusual. She understands the human condition intuitively – never glossing over the difficult and messy bits  of our complex nature – and relishing its exploration with a rare realism. She tells me some of her work has been labelled as Gothic Realism, and after reading about the history of Appalachian mountain culture where her heart – or at least her writing heart seems to be – I begin to see what drives her powerful narratives. Her writing has a uniquely bare quality – without frippery, without ornamentation – yet it shows great sensitivity. Her poetry and short stories are always moving and powerful. Go to her blog and find out for yourself.

Now for the rules of the Writing Process Blog Hop:

1. Answer the four questions below

2. Link back to the person who invited me to Blog Hop

3. Name four writers who might just continue to hop…

THE QUESTIONS:

1) What are you working on?

I always need to have a number of pieces on the go at the same time, so if one isn’t going well, I can move to another. There are two pieces on the top of the pile just now. One is set in a taiga (the Mongolian name for forest), and is about the observations and trials of a child who lives with a nomadic tribe of horse herders. The idea for the story started with little more than a series of snapshots in my head, and over the last week or so I have been weaving these ‘stills’ together into a story. Ancient myths and tradition form the background – even though the story is contemporary – and the tension will come from the conflict between the old, known ways of survival, and the ‘pull’ of the modern world.

The second story is again seen through a child’s eyes. Some would call her ‘simple’, I would call her gifted. She has the ability to see things others do not in a clairvoyant, second sight sort of way. Her mother has recently died in strange circumstances, and she lives with her father on an isolated farm. The problems come when the outside world tries to get too close. It’s a tale about different personal realities, the wielding of power, and the beauty and wildness of the natural world.

Having said all that, most of my writing energy these days goes into mastering the art of the haiku. It’s made me aware of the power of simplicity, and of saying ‘just enough’. I love the way it can capture a single moment, yet mirror timelessness. It’s power is in what it does not say – allusion is all.

 

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?

Someone else will have to answer this one, as I have no idea where I’d fit!. There are elements of fantasy and myth in some of my stories, magical realism in others – some are even held together by humour and irreverence!

3) Why do you write what you write?

The simple answer is I don’t have a clue. Not being a published writer, I don’t have to consider my audience, so I write simply for myself. Some authors say they write what they would like to read themselves, and that is certainly true for me. Why do I choose the content that I do? First, I love writing about nature because I feel at home and am inspired when in that environment – cities leave me cold and wanting to run; and second, I like playing with different ideas of ‘reality’, where the reader has to suspend disbelief for a while.  I like to take my readers on a journey where they can forget – just for a few moments – who and where they are.

4) How does your writing process work?

I have no set rules for this, but if I’m working on something, I’ll get out of bed in the morning, and go straight to my desk for an hour or two, because there are words and ideas that I must get down before the day gets in the way and I forget. I do have a writing pad by my bed, but I’m too lazy to use it, and I often send texts to myself if I’m out somewhere and think I’ll forget an idea. My memory is rubbish, so I probably still forget about 90% of it!

I find it very useful to not finish a piece at the end of the writing day (unless it is time to do so). Leaving a half finished sentence or paragraph makes it much easier to pick up where I left off. If I want to waste time, I’ll revise and revise what I wrote the day before. This often means, as I think Proust said, that I will spend the whole morning removing one word; then, in the afternoon I’ll put it back! I am a master of ‘over writing’.

If time permits, I’ll write in the afternoon and carry on until I get hungry – usually after I’ve done practical everyday tasks, and maybe taken a walk or cycle ride. The afternoon is also the time when I do most of my reading. I used to think reading was what I did when I couldn’t write, and although this is sometimes true, I now recognise that reading time is vital. It is nutritional for any writer, and I am often amazed how many authors admit to hardly ever reading other writer’s work.

Writing haiku is different. It can happen any time, anywhere. Something or someone will spark off an idea and it develops from there. I have a notebook full of first lines which I’ll dip into whenever I have the time. I meditate twice a day, and this often puts me in the right space to compose a haiku. Either that, or I’ll fall asleep!

 

I have nominated these four writers, as I’d really like to know what makes them tick!

the hour of soft light…  : a blog with beautiful photographs, and innovative and often, very surprising poetry.

Only Fragments : deliciously poetic excerpts from longer pieces. Descriptive and evocative writing to inspire…

the echo of the whole sea : I love the title! It’s a blog from Ireland I have recently discovered. Collage, poetry, fragments of stories, inspirational quotations.  Fascinating reading.
 Bruce Goodman: Bruce runs ‘A Story A Day’ blog. Every day he writes one. Every day it’s different. He will surprise you, make you laugh- perhaps even make you cry. But whatever he writes, it’s always worth reading.
PS. And of course, if you don’t feel like doing the Blog Hop, just pretend I didn’t nominate you. But if you do, me and many others will be rather glad you did! x
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§ 14 Responses to Writing Process Blog Hop

  • Bruce Goodman says:

    Thanks for the nomination to Blog Hop! I like the questions! I shall try to answer them soon! Thanks for the honour.

  • SirenaTales says:

    So interesting to learn more about you, your process, and other inspiring writers! Thank you. Xo

  • Rachael Charmley says:

    Thank you. I’m looking forward to what the others say… x

  • Miranda Stone says:

    First, Rachael, I want to thank you for your incredibly kind words about my writing. Your support of my work, as well as your friendship, mean a great deal to me. Second, I loved reading about your writing process! I know our writing styles are different, but I was struck by some of the similarities we share as far as our writing process is concerned. I also like to have several different pieces to work on at any one time. I am also often guilty of over writing.

    Both of your stories sound fantastic. I think that’s a strong theme in much of your work, the way the old world and its traditions contrast with our modern era.

    I like the idea of sending texts of story ideas to oneself. (It honestly never occurred to me. 😛 ) Often a single line of poetry will come to me, and I’m desperate to get it written down before I forget it. I must say, your daily routine sounds refreshing: writing in the morning, time spent in nature later on, and then reading in the afternoon. Sounds like a very productive schedule!

    I’ll be sure to check out the blogs you recommended. Thanks for providing insight into your own unique writing process, Rachael!

  • Rachael Charmley says:

    Pleased some bits resonated with you, Miranda. I know how lucky I am to have so so much free time these days…

  • I really enjoyed reading this, Rachael – you have given an interesting insight into your writing and the processes you employ. I have sometimes texted myself ideas or lines (and more frequently jotted them on paper) but sadly that’s all they amount to. I prefer to try to think about them and develop them more fully in my head first.
    Miranda beat me to the punch here, as I am sure that you know that I would have recommended your blog if she hadn’t done so already! I do follow Bruce – his stories often make me chuckle first thing in the morning – but I will be sure to check your other recommendations out.

  • Rachael Charmley says:

    Thanks, Chris. I think the idea of the ‘Writing Process Blog’, is going down quite well because, as I said, writers are innately curious. And mobiles do have their uses…:-)

  • Wow thanks so much for your kindness Rachael, I’m very honoured and super pleased! Gosh i dunno what makes me tick….scratchin me head here….hmmm must go have a think about it 🙂 I can relate to your ideas of spontaneity and simplicity….he he although sometimes i do overcook things. Anyway, a thousand thanks go raibh mile maith agat, and a big hug from the Emerald isle xx

    • Rachael Charmley says:

      You deserve it. You’re a great writer. Have fun answering the Q’s. Big hug back from a cold and wet Waveney Valley 🙂

      • thanks, i’m afraid you might think i took the easy way out, i figure i need a little time to solve this conundrum, i figure perhaps the answers will appear when i sit down and write some more stories!

        • Rachael Charmley says:

          No I don’t – I understand. I’ve only been blogging six months and found the ‘awards’ business pretty daunting at the beginning. But it gets easier – really very quickly – as a community forms itself around you. 🙂

  • I really enjoyed learning about your writing process, and I’m looking forward to checking out the blogs you mention here.

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