Thank you my good friend, my fellow Capricorn, my go-to guru, Sarah Yaw for inviting me to be a part of My Writing Process Blog Tour. Her novel, You Are Free to Go (http://enginebooks.org/Titles/YouAreFreeToGo.html) , received the Engine Book Award and will be published in September. Check her out at sarahyaw.com.
Here are my responses to the blog tour prompts:
1) What are you working on?
I’ve been working for almost ten years (more than ten years??) on a novel set in my home town, Westerly, RI. Its working title is Dogman at the Firemen’s Carnival and it is about a young girl whose father, a fisherman, disappears off his boat one calm day. Part love story, part ghost story, it is a coming of age tale in which my protagonist, Marina Zolda, attempts to find out what happened to him. To do this, she must move beyond the very tight family circle she has around her.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
In this novel and in some of my poetry, I use some of the superstitions, stories and traditions of my mother’s Italian-American family. They are originally from the province of Calabria. I also have a completed short story collection about growing up on my family’s dairy farm. I know other kids grew up throwing pennies at the bride and groom for good luck and believing that putting new shoes on the table is bad luck. I also know kids who grew up driving corn trucks long before they got their licenses or milking cows on Friday nights while their friends were out having fun, but I haven’t read any books about those things.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I write from an initial inspiration. Sometimes it’s a poem, sometimes I know it will be a short story, instead. I thought the novel would be a short story at first but it just kept going so I went with it. What I don’t do is think about a collection of anything before I write. Once they’re all written, poems or stories, I lay them out of my bed and count the pages to see if I have enough for a book. When I do, the discovery that they are connected thematically always surprises me.
It becomes clearer and clearer to me — and still strikes me as one sort of miracle — that the more I write and that the more I teach writing, how our stories never really sound like anyone else’s. So I keep mining whatever I have and I hope my students will too!
4) How does your writing process work?
Boy would I love to focus on one thing and finish it! But that’s not how it works for me. I draft, revise, set aside, move to another genre. Return, revise, set aside, etc. My first collection of poetry took me 20 years to write; the first collection of short stories was the same. I prefer early mornings and always fear the first draft. I love revision. I also love summer and how the time I have off from teaching allows me to immerse myself in some project. But I have definitely learned to write when I can.
And now, I’m happy to introduce you to (drumroll) . . .
Betty Thayer Cotter who is the author of the novels The Winters and Roberta’s Woods. She holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College and was named the 2006 fiction fellow by the R.I. State Council on the Arts. She teaches English at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, Conn., and creative writing and journalism at the University of Rhode Island.
Follow Betty at http://swampyankeewoman.wordpress.com.
Maryellen Reilly-McGreen who is an award-winning journalist and a high school English teacher. She is the author of Witches, Wenches & Wild Women of Rhode Island; Rhode Island Legends: Haunted Hollows and Monster Lairs; and Revolutionaries, Rebels and Rogues of Rhode Island. I’ll post her blog here very soon!
Jane Ward who is the author of HUNGER and the New York Book Festival award-winning novel THE MOSAIC ARTIST, and is currently at work on her third novel, THE WELCOME HOME. A former baker and caterer, Jane now cooks on video for allfood.com, a recipe database sited on several online newspapers, and also regularly contributes articles to the same online newspapers. Her blog, FOOD AND FICTION (http://authorjaneward.com), is equal parts food memoir, cooking and baking discussion, and collection of food industry profiles and trends.
These writers will be posting their own Writing Process Blog Tours next week!!