I started my writing career as a ghostwriter. It was a great way to cut my teeth and hone my craft, but the pay was abysmal, and of course, other people took the credit for my work. So, last year I finally made the leap to writing for myself, and so far, the pay hasn’t been any better, but it’s been a blast! I’m back for another Boys Behaving Badly Anthology and have several more anthologies planned for the coming year. The most fascinating part of this journey has been developing my writing process and learning about that of other authors. It’s amazing how differently everyone approaches writing. Some authors meticulously plan out their work step by intricate step. It’s like a beautiful dance in colorful illustration before the first word is even put on the page. For others, they wade in with a vague notion or idea and just see where it goes. My process lies somewhere in the middle.
Typically, I have a rough outline of where the story will go with major plot points. How I get from point to point isn’t necessarily defined. Sometimes, the storyline drives the words, but more often, I find the characters and who they want to become influences the story the most. I’ve been astonished at how some of my stories have turned out!
No one was more surprised than me when I finished my latest short story, The Invisible Goddess, about Hestia, the Greek goddess of fire, hearth, and home. I call her the forgotten Olympian because she has almost no stories about her. She’s rarely mentioned at all in the myths. So, I reinvented her with the idea to make her bolder and write a bit of romance into her hum-drum life of keeping Zeus’s court at Olympus. What I ended up with was a fiery hot goddess who brings Olympus to the brink of war over her hand and in the middle of it all, a primordial god of darkness stirring the pot, and the heroine’s heart. The god of darkness wasn’t even in my original outline of the story! This is the coolest part of writing. I love it when my imagination gets churning, and suddenly, a story that I never even realized was there materializes on the page. I look back at this short story and wonder where the heck it came from!
Aside from how writers approach the structure of their stories, I also find the logistical aspect of how authors work intriguing. Some authors write every day, 8 hours a day. It’s their job, and they treat it as such. Of course, that whole time isn’t necessarily spent spinning words onto the page of their latest and greatest novel. A lot of it is spent working social media, responding to emails, editing, and updating their website and blog. Some authors have a particular place they like to write, or they have a prewriting routine they do. Other authors don’t touch their keyboard for days or weeks. Then, they sit down and binge write for days on end. Again, I find myself somewhere in the middle.
I’m not cool enough to write full time- yet! One of these days…. But for now, my writing must fit in with a full-time job as a nursing instructor, a 21-acre farm, and a family. I don’t have time for rituals or routines- other than coffee. There is always time for coffee! I fit writing in whenever and wherever. I often peck away at my keyboard at my daughter’s horse riding lessons and scribble ideas on the back of my grocery list while waiting in line at Costco. I wish I was one of those disciplined souls that would get up 2 hours early and write before work. Countless failed early morning exercise aspirations have proven that it isn’t a sound strategy for me! My main goal is to write a little bit every day. Sometimes, it’s literally a single sentence, and sometimes, when the writing gods smile upon me and the stars align, it’s pages. In the end, it always seems to come together.
Anthologies, like the latest Boys Behaving Badly with my gracious hostess, Delilah Devlin, attract me because I can write tons of different storylines, and they’re typically short story to novella lengths. I have several going at the same time. One of the other things I’ve discovered about my writing process is the stories and characters often need to marinate at different points along the way. Sometimes, we gotta give each other a bit of space! I also like to sleep on my stories. Seriously, I do my best writing as I am falling asleep. I’ll turn a particular point around and around in my head, and in that semi-dozing state, my mind forgets boundaries, conventions, and the distractions of daily life. Suddenly, the imagined world is possible and some of my best ideas have come from this technique (Ok… I’m not sure that falling asleep is a technique, but I’m going to go with it!). I’ve also utterly annihilated storylines and caused myself tons of extra rewrites because I came up with a scene that I just couldn’t live without. I guess that’s why they call it a process!
I will continue to hone my practice and do hope to transition to writing full time. I have dreams of writing full-length novels with glossy dust jackets adorned with my picture and having a fan base that stretches beyond blood relatives! For now, I’ll continue to grab the time as I can find it and inspiration where it is granted. I can’t wait to see where my journey takes me next. I hope that you’ll join me along the way!
As always, many thanks to Delilah for letting me pop in! Until next time…
Here’s a picture of my home base in north Georgia…