I’m so thrilled that the super-smart, fabulously generous Kelly Bennett invited me to take part in the “Writing Process Blog Tour” that is taking over the blogosphere! You can check out her process here. Kelly is a true Picture Book genius. Don’t be fooled by her modest talk. And… Oh my. She knows how to weave a storytime spell! I could listen to her read picture books aloud all day long. On top of that, she can belt out pretty much any show tune you have an urge to hear!
And now, on to the 4 questions!
1. What am I currently working on?
I’m working on a contemporary YA novel that takes place in a small college town in southwestern Virginia, right down the road from MY BEST EVERYTHING. It’s a rocky story–there are lots of ups and downs for my main character, but also actual rocks. Like boulders. Underground caves. An abandoned quarry. She’s awfully lost at the moment, so good thing there’s a boy who loves maps, too.
I also have other projects that I work on when I get stuck with my novel. For instance, I am perpetually trying to write the perfect picture book. I also love writing short stories and poetry.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My characters tend to be older than a lot of YA characters. They’re hovering at that point where they are going to be stepping out into the world on their own – but haven’t stepped over the line to adulthood quite yet.
And boy oh boy are my characters rule breakers! They’re feisty and determined, and so unwilling to take no for an answer.
I adore match-making between two flawed characters struggling with tough issues. I don’t think I follow the typical romance pattern. I like my couples to figure out exactly why they’re right together and then let them deal with a whole lot of other kinds of trouble beyond their relationship. It’s them against the world!
3. Why do I write what I write?
I write realistic contemporary fiction because I love to read it. I always have.
For me, real people in the real world are infinitely fascinating and complex. I never get tired of trying to figure out why someone behaves a certain way. I am a psychology junkie.
As for love stories… I think falling in love, especially for that very first time – well, that’s enough magic for me. It really is a mysterious and wonderful thing. I adore hearing “how we met” stories. First loves have a way of getting deep inside us, and can change how we look at the world ever after – even though they rarely last in the long run.
4. How does my individual writing process work?
As far as actual logistics, I don’t have an office ~ instead I write at one end of my kitchen table.
I do most of my writing early in the morning before going to work. I get up realllllly early! I can sometimes revise in the afternoon, but for new pages, that early early, still dark, maybe even still night, time is best.
As far as the figuring out the story, my process is messy! And ever-changing.
In the beginning of a new project, there is a lot of trial and error. I have way more questions than answers. So I write. I delete. I write again. I quit. I write. I get mad. I write long ranty emails to patient, sensible friends. I quit again. Sometimes I cry. I journal madly and wildly and incoherently. I cut pictures from magazines. I write. Delete. I call my super blog buddy and whine. I write. Delete. I walk my dog.
And then, eventually, something clicks. The puzzle pieces start to fit together. I start making lists of scenes. I write them on post-its and try to figure out how they might fit together. I arrange, and rearrange.
Once I THINK I know where I’m going, I get to work.
It still looks a bit like what I’ve described above, especially the write, delete, rewrite parts; but I’m a lot more productive. I am not afraid of tossing scenes or starting over, but I do like to feel as though I’m on solid ground moving forward. (Even if I’m wrong.) I will sometimes write super rough drafts of future scenes just to have a target of where I’m headed, but I know they’ll look different by the time I get there. So it’s mostly linear with lots of circling back to “fix” things as I learn more about my story.
Oh! I also nap. Naps are a crucial part of my process!
ANINDITA BASU SEMPERE: Anindita was one of my classmates at VCFA. She is a true Renaissance woman: brilliant in a variety of disciplines, as well as thoughtful and kind. She’s been busy in a whole new way lately which is why I can’t wait to read her post next Monday!
Anindita is a writer, educator, book addict, geek, and occasional dog rescuer. She has MFAs from the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and Boston University’s Poetry Program. In 2009 and 2010, she co-directed the New England SCBWI regional conferences “Many Voices” and “Moments of Change” and is currently the Critique Group Coordinator and Webmaster of SCBWI-Switzerland. Anindita has been an educator for over ten years and co-founded TheWritingFaculty.com. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she loves to travel, read, knit, and bake.
DARCY WOODS: Darcy and I share an agent, but I “met” her on Twitter. Now we meet regularly through email where we ponder deep important things like the importance of bananas. She also makes super adorable emoticon cheerleaders – I’m working towards earning what she promises will be the extra super amazing version.
Darcy was the winner of the prestigious 2013 Golden Heart for Best Young Adult Romance for SUMMER OF SUPERNOVA. She wears her heart on her sleeve and writes hilarious romancy YA. When it comes to stories she loves funny, whimsy, and strong girls who know how to wreak just the right amount of havoc on the world.
Be sure to check out both Anindita’s and Darcy’s posts next Monday!
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK