Usually I avoid social media tags. The last one required me to make a decidedly odd post on Facebook in order to support cancer research. How on earth the idiotic post helped cancer research I have no idea, but in the spirit of not wanting to invite the wrath of the cancer gods, I went along with the chain and confused the bejesus out of several friends.
But when my sister-writer Alice White asked me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour, I accepted the tag. More as a symbol of support for a fine writer than anything else. And then my husband had some health issues which required a hospital stay and a couple of trips to the ER and I managed to loose an entire state while making arrangements for a speaking engagement –there are so many Boone Counties in the south- and, abracadabra, the blog tour flew out of my head.
Alice emailed me this morning and asked, ever so nicely and even in the email I could hear her delightful British accent, if I had forgotten or was merely late with my post. Well, both actually. So here’s the post. I hope you find it as enjoyable to read as I found it to write.
Here we go.
First question: What am I working on?
Right this moment, I’m working on the presentation I’ll be giving at The Boone County Arkansas library next Tuesday night and The Boone County Missouri Historical Society on Saturday the 20th. Both venues asked for a straight author’s talk and because I write cross-genre and my last two published books are very different one from the other, I’m writing about what all of my writing has in common. From Ridgeline, a dark western about a tormented civil war veteran that would be perfect for a Quentin Tarintino movie, to Noisy Creek, a playful southern romp that explores friendship and aging and younger men–all my books are written in deep point of view with a rich sense of place. There are several other unique components to my writing style, but I’m not giving everything away for free, you’re going to have to drive out to one of the Boone Counties to discover them all.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, the answer to this question is partly explained in the answer to that first question. I write contemporary novels, personal essays, humor, travel memoirs,and westerns. In all these genres, as with all good writers, my style and voice are different from anyone else’s. My characters, with only one deliberate exception –Jeremiah, the civil war veteran in Ridgeline with what was then called soldiers heart and which we now label post-traumatic stress–my characters all experience the small daily joys that make us, even in bad times, get up in the morning and see what life sends us.
Why do I write what I do?
Ah, that’s simple. Because when the characters come to me, they will not go away until I get to know them, put their stories on paper, and give wordy flesh to their promptings. I write quite a lot about post-traumatic stress in combat veterans – My Life with a Wounded Warrior, Clueless Gringos in Paradise, and, of course, Ridgeline. But I don’t write ONLY about PTSD. I don’t write ONLY about any one topic. How tiresome that would be. For me, and for the reader.
How does my writing process work?
I know we writers like to pretend that our process is a mystery bordering on the spiritual, but honestly, I just sit in a chair, get out of the way, and let the characters speak through my fingertips.
The hard part is keeping my butt in the chair and not over-thinking everything and making the process complicated.
Along these same lines, people often ask me if I have a cure for writers’ block. Well, yeah. Write. Write through the so-called block. Write until the story comes to you.
That’s it. That’s the end of the questions. I hope you enjoyed this short diversion from my usual rants on cashew nuts or dog treats.
Let me know what you think, please. It encourages me to keep sharing. Besides it will make Alice smile and she needs a good grin about now.
By the way, Jan Morrill, Beth Carter, Claire Croxton, R. K. Burkett, and yes, even you Greg Camp, you’re tagged. If you can’t fulfill this mission, just send me a nasty email. I’ll file it with the rest of em.