It is my turn on the Writing Process Blog Tour! Deep thanks go to Kelly Bennett for asking me to participate. Kelly's answers to these questions are on her blog—be sure to check them out! And here are mine…
What am I currently working on?
I am in the process of revising a middle grade novel titled Marble Boys, a story about two ten year old boys who have experienced tragedy in their respective lives—one in New Orleans and one in rural Vermont—and how they end up becoming friends and helping each other heal. This book was just bought by Schwartz and Wade and will be published in August 2015.
I am also working on two picture books. One is about to go out on submission and I am revising the other one. I like having both novels and picture books in process—I do well moving from one to the other.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmmm…I'm not sure how my work differs from others in their genres, but I can tell you that no matter what I am working on—picture books or middle grade or essays, even—I am exploring connections: the ways people connect (especially when they don't think they do), the ways they connect to the landscape, the ways they connect to their own selves. It is true that most (maybe all) of my work has a touch of magic realism in it too. My work is character-driven, contemporary, and full of hope. And, finally, I am most compelled by multiple points of view (see my love of connection above) and often write from the hearts and heads of a few characters.
Why do I write what I write?
I love middle grade novels and picture books. I just love them. That middle grade time of life is so full of transparency it makes my heart ache. With sadness sometimes but, most often, with joy. Watching ten, eleven and twelve year old kids find themselves is a privilege—and getting to write about them is too. I suppose I love the picture book crowd for the same reasons, actually—honesty and emotion—but also because they just feel like they own the stories that they read, they truly feel like they are in them, and they are!
I write what I write because I believe in those kids. I write what I write because I want to connect with those kids. I write what I write because creating those stories makes me infinitely happy.
How does my individual writing process work?
Man oh man…this has changed over the years. For a while I wrote painstakingly slowly, writing my stories in order—beginning middle and end—stopping and waiting when I would get stuck, and then starting again. And then jumping into a revision and writing and imagining it and writing it all at the same time. I have evolved from that process though. (Which is not to say that it is a bad process, but it doesn't work so well for me anymore.) Now I write whatever scenes inspire me, in any order. Often that is still page 1 followed by page 2, chapter 3 followed by chapter 4—but not always. If I get a burning idea for the climax, I will write it. If I know the ending, I will write it. Then once I have a rough draft, I will do some outlining and character development. I will try to take a break from the story too at this point. (And work on a picture book or two! Those are shorter processes, of course. In terms of getting the story told, not in terms of getting the story right!) I just learned a great exercise, which consists of telling my story to someone who doesn't know it well, and then listening to that person's reactions, confusions, ideas and questions. I have also just learned how to plan my revision before diving into it.
Let's see. I work best in the morning. I work best at On The Rise Bakery, my local restaurant/community center at the end of my block—preferably with a mocha latte on the table!
Truth be told though, I am still learning about my process. So stay tuned!
And who’s next?
They will be blogging on May 26. Don't miss them!
Debbie's been a classroom teacher, a school administrator, an educational consultant, a curriculum designer, a former adjunct professor, a creative writing workshop instructor, and once taught PBS's Barney kids in a one-room off-set Montessori classroom. She earned her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Art in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Deb currently works on about a zillion free-lance projects and is a proud contributor of ReaderKidZ, a website committed to fostering a love of reading for kids ages K-5. Debbie lives in magical Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband John and Tripod, her three-legged chocolate lab.
Nan Marino is a middle grade book author and young adult librarian. She lives in the Pinelands of New Jersey with her husband and a large goofy dog. Her most recent book Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace was named a 2103 NPR Best Book of the Year.
In the meantime, while you wait for Deb and Nan's posts, you can read other posts on this writing process blog tour at: