Like a positive habit (or a bad cold?), blogging games spread from user to user with the click of the tweet. And today’s my day to join (or be infected . . .) because my good friend Theresa Reed has tagged me to answer a few simple questions about Why I Write.
Which, when you think about it, is kind of genius. Because while I know that most of my friends are writing, I’ve never stopped to ask “why.”
What am I working on?
The answer may vary depending on my mood or the day of the week. But in general, I’m working on finishing the final version of AURELIA: the story that inspired the collaborative steampunk web show I ran last year. Aurelia is shaping up to a be a six-perspective novel that mixes traditional prose, graphic-novel style illustrations, and even artifacts (letters, newspaper clippings, etc. from the City of Aurelia) to tell the story.
I’m also working on a book of poetry about my experience as a woman with autism, interlaced with original textile-based illustrations. My hope is that my experiences will resonate with other women on the autism spectrum.
When I’m not working on either of those projects, I’m busy rewriting the fall of the Roman Empire (an alternate history novel) and helping my City Beast Studio partners Terry Reed and Cole Norton with A.R.C 2067 (a sci fi graphic novel due out this winter) and Crawdaddy (an old-fashioned family-friendly horror comic).
And last, but not least, I write short fiction and post it each Friday on my blog for a fun little thing I call “Flash Friday.” (I’m not the first to come up with that, but I’ve adopted it and use the hashtag #FlashFriday.) Several writers have joined me in this weekly self-challenge, and you’re invited too! (Learn more here.)
How does my writing differ from others in its genre?
The number one difference, to me, is my experimentation with combining the verbal and the visual. Most speculative fiction writers I know are pretty word-based. But my best work has always incorporated a heavy illustration angle, even for stories aimed at adults.
And then there’s the audience participation element. AURELIA would not have become the story it did if it were not for the 40 “citizens” who gave of their time to join me in shaping the city and its inhabitants. I hope to find unique avenues to do this in my other work, as well.
Why do I write?
I’ve always been intensely story-driven and imaginative my nature. I grew up in a home without access to mainstream media. Old books were my best friend, and I read fat out-of-date novels from the time I was very young.
I also see the world a bit differently through the lens of autism. Thinking on the spectrum means I think visually, in patterns, and often about odd topics that catch my obsession and work themselves deep into my brain.
Both of these experiences—my somewhat unique upbringing and my deviant neurology—make navigating the “normal” world a bit more challenging. (To this day, I regularly hear pop cultural references I have to run to look up …) I think I write to make sense of those experiences, and to create worlds where characters who find themselves a bit left of center, a bit outmoded or unfashionable or neurologically noncompliant, find their purpose and fulfill it.
At the end of the day, my Christian faith also leads me to believe that each individual has a unique purpose designed for us by God long before we were born. The speculative genres are filled with stories of destiny and purpose. To me, telling these stories is also a key expression of this belief.
How do I write?
For me, writing usually starts around 5 AM when I sit down to my computer to write furiously until around 7 AM, when I run to jump in the shower and get ready for work at 8 AM. Sometimes I write at night, too, but my brain tends to be more like cotton candy than a razor-shaper Exacto knife at that point in the day.
I’m pretty methodical. I use Evernote to organize everything around a project, then develop a structural outline and ensure that I can tell the story kernel in a sentence (even if it’s a 400-page novel). I tend to write chapter by chapter, then return to look at the whole story, see what’s missing, make copious notes on the changes, and then rinse/repeat the process all over and over again until I finally can’t find anything more to fix.
With blogging, I tend to plan a couple weeks in advance and fill my queue for the week on Sunday night. I’m more likely to fly by the seat of my pants with blog writing. Honestly, I think sometimes it might be my best work for that very reason. I don’t over-work it.
Lately, I’ve also started sketchnoting my ideas, which I find very inspiring for new writing work. It goes back to my identity as a verbal-visual thinker. The pictures inform the words, and the words inform the pictures.
How about you?