Thank you to my colleague Kathy Page for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. Kathy’s new collection, Paradise and Elsewhere, is a stunning achievement that is garnering all sorts of well-deserved attention. There are stories in that collection as original and beautifully executed as any I’ve ever read.
The idea here is to answer a few questions about my writing process. So here goes:
What am I working on?
In spite of nearly losing mind due to overwork and poor organizational skills, I recently managed to hand in a revision to a new novel called Republic of Dirt. It’s a sequel to the Woefield Poultry Collective (Home to Woefield in the U.S.) Republic will be published in January 2015. Yesterday I finished reviewing the copy edited version of a new YA called The Truth Commission. It will be on shelves in March 2015.
Suggestion to others: don’t write two books at the same time unless you’re feeling strong. You may need to carbo-load to get through it. I know I did.
I’m going to give myself a week off and then dive into a new YA located in the fictional art high school that is the setting for The Truth Commission. I’m not sure about the title, but the essential elements are floating around in my head waiting to be put down on paper.
How does my work differ from other work in its genre?
At risk of sounding even more glib than usual, it’s written by me, for one thing. My work is infused with my voice and sensibility and humour. For better or worse, my novels are unlikely to be mistaken for, say, Jonathan Franzen’s. (A sad thing from the perspective of my bank account and award shelf, but hey, it’s a good thing from the perspective of Susan Juby scholars. Which reminds me, where are all the Susan Juby scholars?)
Why do I write what I do?
Because I am deeply troubled. And because I like to laugh. I suspect most humour writers would say the same thing. I write stories about peculiar people finding someplace to belong because I love oddballs and because I love the idea that there’s a wrench for every nut. Or a hammer for every nail. A tablesaw for every board? You get the idea. Those comparisons all sound violent. Not intentional. Community is never about violence, unless you are part of the MMA community.
How does my writing process work?
I am afraid to stop writing in case I never start again, so I write six days a week. I try to write between 2 and 4 new pages a day and when I’m editing I aim for between 10 and 40 pages, depending on how seriously far behind I am. Most of what I write is very bad. That means I revise each manuscript four or more times before my agent sees it. I revise once more based on her comments and then off it goes to an editor. I keep thinking I know how to write books and then I start a new one and realize I have no idea whether it’s going to work out or not.
Writing is an exercise in faith and magical thinking: “Please, please let this year or two of work not be wasted.”
I write in the morning and edit in the afternoon.
I coaxed hilarious and multi-talented Vancouver Island writer Karen Rivers, author of books for all ages, including What is Real, The Healing Time of the Hickeys and Finding Ruby Starling to share her secrets, which she does with rather breathtaking eloquence, and I invite any other authors who might be interested to take part. For more juicy details on process or if you’d like to take part, please see blogs by the following writers: