Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Forays In Fiction: Work Habits

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I was tagged by Julia over a week ago. I decided to combine the tag with this Friday Forays In Fiction post and impose the theme of my fiction writing work habits on it.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. List 6 unspectacular quirks you have.
4. Tag 6 bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each person’s blog to let them know they’ve been tagged.

as for #5, some rules are just too much for me to adhere too. I hate imposing on people I know are busy. On the other hand, I hate to hurt the feelings of the one who tagged me by ignoring the tag. So I'll do what I've seen done elsewhere: if you want to play let me know via comments or email that you have posted and I'll come see and link you below. It would be cool if your theme was related to writing but not required.

So here are six unspectacular quirks of mine related to my fiction writing:

1. I start way more stories than I finish. At a guess, the ratio is something like 100 to 1. And for the last twenty years nearly every story I start--no matter how seemingly far removed at first--ends up folding into my Fruits of the Spirit story world. The threads of four generations, over fifty characters and at least a dozen separate plots are one huge tangle.

2. I tend to want to keep tweaking the words I've already laid down over and over and over and over and over and over...

3. I get lost in the research stage, collecting dozens of library books and several dozens of URLs on every aspect of the story's settings and its character's lives.

Take for example my novel Spring Fever which was last year's NaNoWriMo project. Here are just a few from the still growing list of research projects connected to it: life on a college campus; teaching of Dante's works in Italian,including of course reading Dante's works and scholarly commentary on them and comparing translations with the original--and no I don't speak or read Italian but I hope to convincingly portray a Professor who does and a student who is learning to translate; tarot card creations and readings and history; Stravinsky's compositions; performing Stravinsky's Rite of Spring; stagecraft: costumes, set, choreography; orchestra drumming and Amerindian tribal drumming; Amerindian mythology; Amerindian reservation living; midwifery; surrogate mothers; Multiple Sclerosis--disease symptoms and progress and aspects of living with it and its effects on marriage and family life; six or more ethnic and/or religious backgrounds because each of the three POV characters were born and raised into families that blended two distinct ethnic and two distinct religious backgrounds.

And that is just one of over a dozen WIP

4. I like to use music when I am preparing to write a scene and occasionally while writing it. Sometimes this is for the purpose of setting a particular mood. But I find it helps to assign each story and sometimes each character a piece of music which I will listen to while contemplating or writing their scenes. I prefer instrumental or with vocals in a language I don't speak so other peoples words won't interfere. This works to transport me easily back into the scene after hours or days away. Tho the more days away the less effective it is.

5. Ideas and words seem to fly faster whenever I am separated from my writing tools: while doing dishes; walking to the library; riding in a car; in the shower; laying down trying to sleep; the dinner table and other social gatherings; ad infinitum. And the minute I lift up the pencil or the laptop lid. Bye bye little birdies. Bye bye.

6. I have a hard time giving my fiction writing the priority it needs to be successful. Every other duty, chore, task seems to demand precedence. Every other person's needs seem to require priority. I don't easily give myself permission to write my stories if I've not completed my mile long ToDo list. And then I am too willing to allow myself to be called away by someone else's needs.

That last coupled with the fact that the bulk of my new words in the last four years have been churned out during the Sweating for Sven challenges and the last four NaNo during which I let it be known among the family, insisting on giving it the time and flaunting my elastic wrapped wrists at the dinner table, letting the chips fall where they may--all this adds up to the conclusion that I would be foolish to back out of NaNo this year.


The contest for Josh Henkin's Matrimony is open until NOON Pacific Time Monday, September 29.
Besides, I have a brand new story idea. And I don't think it has anything to do with the FOS storyworld. Yeah. Right. Don't lay any bets.

1 tell me a story:

Julia Phillips Smith 9/27/2008 10:31 AM  

Loved this, Joy Renee! Every writer in the world can relate to these quirks, I'm certain. Especially the 'Bye bye, little birdies' part.

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