My good friend Brooke Bolander, writer of some awesome stories, has invited me to join this blog relay on writing craft. Brooke’s fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, and Aliens: Recent Encounters. Follow her on Twitter @BBolander, where she says all manner of clever things on a daily basis.
1. What am I working on?
Right now my main project is a novel; it’s based on my Strange Horizons story “The Siren,” and I’ve been slogging away since February. However, as I’m highly superstitious, that’s all I can say about that.
I’m also working on editing some short stories to send out, as well as stowing away ideas for when I finish the aforementioned project. It’s difficult for me to ignore the short story urge, even if just for a little while, as it is my favorite form to read and to write. But I felt as though it was time for a different challenge. I’ve found after graduating from University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program that I am the type of person who likes to feel as though she is working toward something, and working on a long project feels, to me, like something big.
As for what I’ve already worked on that is coming out soon, I have several stories forthcoming this year. My Little Mermaid retelling is coming out soon from Scheherazade’s Bequest, and my essay “Stepping Through a Portal” is coming out June 1st in Lightspeed: Women Destroy Science Fiction! For a complete list of all the work I have forthcoming, see my Stories & Poetry page.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
When people ask me what I write, I usually sum it up as “fantastical fiction.” This, to me, clarifies that essential, otherworldly element I find most integral to my stories. I would say that the main way my fiction differs from some others in the genre is that I value rhythm and language as much as story. The way it differs from all others in the genre is that I pour my own experiences into it, so each story is unique to me.
3. Why do I write what I do?
A lot of what I write contains themes pulled from my past experiences; writing something new from the old feels very practical to me, to reuse memories that otherwise would have no particular use, and may even cloud me, if they’re bad memories. I also feel like I’m my best self when I’m writing on themes that are most pertinent to me. I write what I do for a lot of reasons. The short answer is that I write what I do because that’s what I love to write about.
4. How does your writing process work?
I try to write at least 250 words every day, and most of the time I’m able to accomplish that goal, except when big life stuff gets in the way, like the process of buying a house that has been putting a stopper in my productivity. On days when I don’t work my day job, I try to get 1,000 words written. The writing of new words is my top priority. Next comes editing already finished work. I write whenever I can find time; I don’t have a specific time of day I find I’m most productive. Sometimes I’m finished writing by noon, and sometimes I don’t get finished until 4 AM.
As for where I start, that varies every time. Sometimes I start with a song lyric, a painting, another work of fiction, a line from a poem, an image that pop into my head, or a character. I have that initial inspiration, and then I just sit down and start. I don’t often plan a story out beforehand; I let the story take me where it will, as that’s the most fun process for me. Once the words are down, that’s when I reshape the story.
Next up are two writers I’ve workshopped with: Julie Day and Carrie Cuinn.
Julie Day wrote an awesome story for my Art & Words Show. Then she sold that story to Electric Velocipede. I am extremely proud of this fact, cause it’s such an awesome story. Her fiction has also appeared or is forthcoming in magazines/anthologies such as XIII, A cappella Zoo, and Stupefying Stories.
Carrie Cuinn is an author, editor, bibliophile, modernist, and geek. In her spare time she listens to jazz, watches indie films, cooks everything, reads voraciously, publishes a magazine, and sometimes gets enough sleep. You can find her online at @CarrieCuinn or at http://carriecuinn.com. Recent stories can be found at Unlikely Stories, Daily Science Fiction, Chaosium, and in her latest collection, Women and Other Constructs (June 2013).