Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Writing(,) a self-examination

In response to Claire's tag and a curiosity for a self-examination of my writing process, here goes:

What am I working on now?

My first novel was a lengthy process, a gradual learning curve that has finally reached the stage of final draft and is awaiting distance and feedback for a major re-write of the introductory chapters. It incorporated responses to emotional situations in my own life, only centred around a different set of characters living in a different time period. Currently, it's sitting on the back-burner, awaiting the time when the characters stop being intimate acquaintances. As this distance is being achieved, I have moved on to begin writing two more novels, whilst maintaining a sporadic presence in the blog-o-sphere. 

Both 'new' novels are in the embryonic stages with characters still faint watercolours and the plot sporadic moments loosely woven together with as yet no discernible underlying structure. Which one I work on is dependant entirely on where my head is at (which story has of its own accord worked its way forward through the tangle of information and interests in my brain and is consuming my down time). The reason there are two novels in existence at the moment is that the first stemmed from travels during the summer of 2012 while the second is partially centred around the lives of my deceased grandmother and frail grandfather they first arrived in Fremantle. Given the health of my grandfather and his siblings and in-laws this novel has an element of urgency about it which partially instigated the decision to move this novel into the foreground. 

Almost as a result of this urgency, the first novel has currently taken over my mind, pulling me toward Rome and the Greek Islands, and allowing me to reminisce about my time in Europe and travelling the Mediterranean whilst wondering on the differences (the new discoveries, new creations, demolitions) that have occurred in the last 100/150 years. 

And the blog posts? They happen sporadically, in response to things that happen in my life that I want to share with friends, or reactions to events that need to be verbalised but with an element of abstraction and not directed at anyone specifically. Only recently has this caused my academic writing to rear up, but there is not yet the motivation or incentive to return to that world. 

I'm supposed to also be working on a monologue on 'Windows', but that's not happening: the inspiration never hit me and I was too involved with other things.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I'm not sure I know. I don't tend to read contemporary works of a similar historical nature, preferring instead works by (female) authors now deceased. Of these dead white females, some have proven inspirational and I have marked up one particular novel as though I were back in English Literature classes again, but I don't intentionally mimic the style of any author or even look for comparisons when I'm writing. If this happens in the editing process, great. Sometimes that might be enhanced, other times it fades to a shadow, intentionally taunting readers to delve deep enough to discover it. 

Reading back over my writing and listening to some of the feedback, I think my writing style is simplistic but historic; I have never excelled at theoretically writings and often find myself tuning out when (attempting) to read them. Instead I prefer to use language (often with an historic syntax) to paint a scene, or enable a reader to feel themselves witness to a fast and witty conversation. To a modern audience this can prove a little inexplicable, but I've always been more of an historical person than a modern one. 

Of the characterisation and setting, they usually tend to be strong interesting characters in typical everyday settings focussing not so much on how to extricate themselves from unusual situations, but instead how they cope with the expectations and emotions placed upon them by their social and familial situations. Having moved on from a single novel, I find the recurring elements are that each story is historical in some way and centred around an independent young female who is in the process of discovering herself and her position in the world and cementing herself within this position. To some extent I try to replicate the social commentary of novels like Wharton's Age of Innocence, even if I am creating the society from scratch or imposing elements of a modern day society onto what I understand to be an Edwardian society. 

Why do I write what I do?

My first novel was written because I had a world of characters alive in my head and I wanted to record their lives in a manner that was enjoyable and entertaining for me, with only the added bonus if it was enjoyable to others. For many years it was a personal hobby unbeknownst to everyone bar my sister and possibly my cousin (both inspirations for the characters). Only recently have I let others in to inspire and nurture the story and motivate me to turn this recording of individual stories into a more coherent novel. 

In my novels I write because I have a story I want to record. Be that a fictional world that's taking over my life, the story of my ancestors who very soon will no longer be able to communicate their stories; stories which will subsequently be lost forever, or a scenario that enables me to combine several different interests in a manner that inspires additional intriguing research to fully understand the setting upon which I have decided. 

The blog is a way of recording feedback to the world around me that does not fit within the confines of developing novels. With a love of the written word and photography, a blog seemed like the ideal way of combining both in a fluid form that was available to a wider audience (those of the anti-facebook persuasion). Often posts takes the form of recording the beauty of the world around me, be that the life in the garden on my doorstep or the joys of introducing my cousin to elements of nature. However on other occasions it has also provided a medium through which to vent my frustration at events which I have no right to comment on but want to nevertheless, or respond to things discovered on the world wide web. It is also a way of trying to keep my hand in, in times when a desolate winter has set in, affecting the motivation and inspiration to write both novels. 

Although I have been told that, like a monologue, a blog is written with an intended audience in mind, I find I'm not writing for someone else. The occasional post is directed at a friend or two but for the most part I write for me. The blog is a way of setting a quality threshold and storing my writing somewhere where others can access it if they feel like reading it (as opposed to in the depths of an obscure folder on my computer). If it pleases people or creates discussion/lengthy rants, even better.

What I don't write into my blog, as much as I would like, are recipes. This omission is perhaps strange to those who know me, but I find that (in comparison to blogs like my food photography and the written recipe do not live up to the reputation of the food when it is made and served to family and friends. As a result, though recipes are handed out to all and sundry, they are only infrequently recorded here. 

What is my writing process?

I'll admit, I'm not religious about it. I write whenever I can, when the inspiration hits me. This means carrying around a wad of paper and a pen in my handbag on almost all occasions, using the backs of exercise books in boring meetings, and keeping paper and a pen on my night-stand for those moments of inspiration that hit just as I'm drifting off to sleep. 

For my novels, I find writing with (a good) pen and paper to be a more inspirational method than trying to write directly into a computer. However what is interesting is that this does not apply to writing for the blog.

To satisfy my own curiosity about their writing styles If they so desire, I nominate Christine and Ash.lee to continue the interview and answer these same questions themselves.

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