I was invited on the Writing Process Blog Tour by fellow Peauxdunquian Emily Choate, and it seemed like a fun excuse to get a blog up and make an open resolution about getting these projects completed. I’m a man of my word even if I don’t know who I’ve given it to.
1) What are you working on?
I’m working on a novel I don’t talk about much because I still kinda believe in the idea of jinxing yourself. But it’s going to be a genre farce involving things I miss about New England: local culture, artsiness, snobbery, and existential dread given physical form.
Outside of that, I regularly write short narratives and light verse for performance at a biweekly literary event called Esoterotica. This includes an ongoing series of bawdy limericks for cities in Rhode Island as an attempt to free the form from Nantucket’s tyranny.
Some of the Esoteroticians and I are also collectively writing a play to be performed at this year’s New Orleans FringeFest.
2) How does the work differ from others of its genre?
For the novel:
I like to present absurd concepts played straight, and let humor arise naturally from the rift that creates.
A good amount of the humor I’ve seen within scifi/fantasy/horror seems to rest on fandom pandering and self-referential in-jokes, or a protagonist who’s oh-so-quippy and smarter than everyone else around them. I’ve never enjoyed fiction that simply did what I expected it to and I don’t believe in escapism, so I hope to not do any of that with my own work.
Since literary fiction is actually a genre too, I’ll say that I differ from some of that because my affluent aimless twentysomethings don’t bathe in gravitas, and nobody falls victim to a quiet revelation.
For the erotica:
Mine probably differs in that it’s intended to be laughed at?
3) Why do you write what you do?
I write humor because I take a droll Wodehouse-like approach to everything in life, so I suppose I’d find it either impossible or unenjoyable (and therefore nearly impossible) to write in a more outwardly-serious mode. Writing is a hobby for me and it’s counterproductive to have a hobby you don’t enjoy.
Also, the idea that using humor means you don’t take a topic seriously is only pushed by people who often find themselves the target of such humor and it should be disregarded. I see my writing as being a fireplace poker; not for some belabored ‘stoking the flames’ analogy, but because it can be wielded as a bludgeon against the haughty.
I actually do own a couple fireplace pokers for just that purpose.
4) How does your writing process work?
I won’t begin to discuss the idea-generating process because so much of that part seems to result from idly overthinking my own experiences/interests and trying to derive some practical levity from them. I also think epiphanies are a totally valid way for ideas to emerge. But regardless of origin, once the idea does exist, there are technical processes you need to subject it to before it’s worthwhile to somebody who isn’t you.
My process for writing the book kind of resembles backstitching. For example I’d write all of chapter 1, give it a look over to tighten up basic things, then write chapter 2, give that a look over, then go through chapters 1 and 2 together for more thorough editing — seeing any character traits I used in one that should continue across other chapters, noting any points I could bring up again later or should have foreshadowed earlier, things like that which you need a longer period to notice and develop. When I finish chapter 3 I’d give it a look over, then go through chapters 2 and 3 in that fashion, and so on. It gives me steady breaks between writing and editing so that just doing one for too long doesn’t seem overwhelming.
I work from a brief chapter-by-chapter outline so that I have an idea of how things should be progressing as I write and don’t get caught up in tangents too often.
Much thanks to Emily for tagging me in, and now I’m passing the torch to these three since I think they’ll have some interesting contributions:
The upstanding-though-unrelated Tad Bartlett
Co-playwright and poetic teddybear Michael Marina
Classy & sassy expatriate dramaturge Corinne Wahlberg
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[…] funny, but just a coincidence. In any event, taken from his original posting on his blog, Zach B Is Tall, here’s Zach Bartlett’s turn on the Writing Process Blog […]