Tagged on FB by prolific, exciting author Lisa Nikolits to write about my writing process:

I've been tagged by the exciting and prolific author Lisa Nikolits to write about  my writing process:

• What am I working on?         

At the moment, I am editing my third book with the wonderful editor of Inanna Publications, Luciana Ricciutelli. A novel, Would I Lie To You?, it will be launched on October 9th in Toronto. I have also recently completed a mystery novel. When I have time in the midst of editing, sending out invites for the launch, figuring out how to use my website and the Mailchimp program, I am working on a memoir called ‘Restless.

When I am asked how long it took to write the three books that will have been published by October, I wince. All were underway before I retired in 2002, when my goal in my retirement was to see that I actually finally got my books published. (Collection of short stories, One Day It Happens 2007; Novel, Ile d’Or 2010).
I also occasionally work on another collection of short stories.

• How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I do not write one specific genre, although I began with short story and novel writing. Mysteries were not in my future, nor was a memoir. But when given an idea for a mystery, I set out to learn how to do that by reading endless mysteries recommended by avid aficionados of the form and review recommendations. The memoir began to unfold when at Banff many years ago I found a manuscript written by a maternal ancestor, who had discovered the Banff Springs, about discoveries in the west during the construction of the CPR railroad. Again I have read endless other memoirs. How does my work differ from others in these genres? I find it difficult to say, but I suspect that my focus to some extent on social justice and that I am a feminist infuse my work. Not that this is not also true of the work of others, just that it always underlies my concerns. I am told that my voice is straightforward and gentle, authentic and honest. I would like to believe that.

 Why do I write what I do?
What choice does a writer or an artist have? Some theme or character or situation takes up residence in my psyche and demands that I deal with it. Once I have a story or book finished, I have new members in my family in the form of characters who have become so familiar that they are friends for the duration. And if I disagree with them, they exhort me with the fact that I have created them so I had better pay attention.

I write because it is apparently a call, or so a nun on a bus traveling along the St. Lawrence River many years ago told me. A gentle voice, hopefully, that conveys stories, but also appears to listen and validate the experience of readers. I used to think I wrote to comfort the disturbed and to disturb the comfortable, but I don’t think that any more. I just write what I write because the words are what come to me and the circumstances are those that demand to be told. I used also to think that writing is a crazy way to stay sane and that may be what it is for me… my handle on sanity. Creativity as the saving grace in a troubled world. Or something! And hopefully the writing also conveys some level of healing to others.

I also write to understand the world, to figure out what I am thinking, to create a record, to have fun. . It is satisfying to write a good sentence. I hope to be remembered for at least one memorable sentence!

How does my writing process work?
I have been writing since I was 7 and my first book was published when I was 70. This might suggest a very slow process! What can I say! It took a long time and the explanation would be a book in itself. Maybe the memoir I am working on will explain it for me.

Rarely am I facing the blank page (screen) any more, but rather starting with material that needs revision. If you consider that revision might be as much as 90 % of the writers’ work, this seems realistic rather than pathetic. If something simply won’t work, I switch to something else. This is a far cry from the early days when each piece was new and the blank page was an unending terror. Persistence has it’s benefits, I guess, because I often have more material now than I can deal with.
Sometimes the material I am working on is new. Then I am apt to become a dinosaur and find myself writing in longhand in the middle of the night. Once I have entered this into Word, I work with the computer. I recall the days when I had to retype hundreds of pages when I shifted material around. I remember the days of white out. And am eternally grateful for my computer.

I have, for the last ten years, worked with a writing group (Moosemeat) and the critique that has led to has been very beneficial.  I often wonder why I waited so long to see the value of such an environment.  In the last year, I started working with another, smaller, group as well.  I am submitting my memoir to this group, chapter by chapter. The other writers have books published and as well as being good writers who submit segments of their work, they offer very helpful critique.

I don’t have a consistent schedule for work. I have worked in various ways at different times, depending on the circumstances. When my children were in their teens and I took a sabbatical from a job to write, I wrote five days a week during their hours at school. When they left home and I went back to the employment world, I wrote on Mondays (and weekends). Now that I am retired from all of that, I try to enjoy being retired (whatever that is) as well as put in a modest amount of writing a day (it becomes cumulative after a while) and don’t worry about how much that is unless I find that I am procrastinating rather than enjoying the rest of my life.

Posted on September 3, 2014 .