Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Three Things I Don’t Write (and Three Things I Do)

Jason E. Rolfe tagged me to participate in this exercise. (Well, I asked him, and he said yes.) Here are my answers to the prompt Three things I don’t write (& three things I do).

Three things I don’t write

1. I don’t write crime. It’s been years and years since I read any crime – some Carl Hiaasen, I think, 4 books quite close together, 20 years ago – and while I enjoyed them (more for the humour) the idea of plotting a heist or a murder or some sort of smackdown (see, I can’t even get the terminology right!) leaves me ... well, bored is too weak a word! Completely disinterested. I mean, the doing of it, yes, that would be OK, writing about the doing ... but the detective work and the piecing together. Yeah, spare me. Life is too short.

2. I don’t write non-fiction I have to research. I don’t even like doing much research for the fiction I write! I do, however, much prefer reading non-fiction, so it’s a bind. I love reading about things but to do so as “research” takes out all the pleasure for me. I do write non-fiction, but it’s really more memoir than straight non-fiction. There are many many many subjects I love to read about but I can’t think of one of them I want to write about. I have to write a 400 word op-ed column / article for my day job for a local LGBT newspaper, once a month, and it’s a struggle to write, which I put off and off and off ...

3. I don’t really write about money struggles. When I was a student and had no money, I’m sure I wrote about money issues a lot more. (Well, I might have ... I think. Although maybe in my head I’ve always had enough money, even if reality proved different!) A character of mine (Morgana Malone) had no job until recently. I wrote about her having no income but I didn’t write about how it affected her life. I just wrote that she had no money so she stayed home in the dark a lot, to save on power bills, but that was more about the laugh than the reality of not having enough money. Maybe my characters are very much First World people. Well, there’s no maybe about it really ...

Three things I do write

1. I write funny. I write fun and humour and about ridiculous things. Stephen V. Ramey recently wrote of a story of mine, it’s “a well researched hoot, with just enough veracity to make one wonder if maybe this isn’t all that far fetched.” I write about absurd things, to make the reader laugh, but there is a huge truth to what I write. Truth really is stranger than fiction, and the world is a far more absurd place than we like to think when we are trying to be serious and problem solve.

2. I write about sex because sex is absurd. Sex is messy and silly and stupid and often not worth wasting too much time thinking about but still, we do. We do that a lot. And I don’t get this man / woman thing about sex and thinking about sex and love versus sex. I think it’s a lot of shit. Sometimes I want to say, stop thinking about it, and just do it. Stop doing this male versus female thing and just accept we are all different and all the same. I loathe the inherent sexism in a lot of gender bullshit, so I like to write about sex in a way that’s real and fun and silly and enjoyable but not voyeuristic. Tell it like it is. I can’t think of a character I have ever created who would be afraid of sex. Although I could be kidding myself there.

3. I write a good list. A good list has a good rhythm and they can usually wring humour out of a situation so that works for me. One of my favourite authors is Ellen Gilchrist, and she turned me on to the power of the list. Most lists are funny. Even if they start out as serious, they become funny because their length is absurd. Plus, I live by lists anyway, in my real everyday living life. So maybe my love of a good list is just an extension of that habit.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Writing tag - My Writing Process Q & A

My Writing Process is a series of blog posts in which authors ‘tag’ each other to answer some questions about their work. Gill Hoffs asked me to take part, along with Shane Simmons.

About Gill Hoffs
Gill Hoffs grew up on the Scottish coast, studied Psychology, Biology and English Literature at the University of Glasgow, then worked with children with a variety of needs (ASD and/or EBD, mainly) throughout the UK. She married her best friend and they now live in Warrington in the north of England with their son Angus.

What am I working on?
I am working on the last 4 stories for my own part in Pure Slush’s '2014 A Year in Stories' which I am also editing. ‘2014 A Year in Stories’ is a multi-volume anthology and includes 12 volumes, each volume devoted to a month of the year, and therefore named January Vol. 1, February Vol. 2, etc.

Each writer involved is contributing one story per month ... so 12 stories in all, from 28 of the 31 writers involved. (11 from two of them, and 7 from the last.) And each of these writers is taking one day of each month – the 5th, the 13th, the 21st, for example - and setting his / her stories on that same day of every month.

So, for example, a writer takes the 10th – Friday 10th January, Monday 10th February, Monday 10th March, Thursday 10th April, etc – throughout the year. 

What we’re publishing is a series of stories from each writer that arcs across the whole year, involving the same character or set of characters. Twelve days in the life of that person or people. So every month, as the books are released, readers can dip into these characters’ lives. Like a serial.

You can find more about it here: http://pureslush.webs.com/2014.htm

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
What’s genre? God, what an awful question! What genre do I write? I usually write humorous stories ... so is humour a genre? Someone recently said my stories are ‘zany’, though I think ‘absurd’ is a better adjective. They are different from the humorous stories others write because they’re my sense of humour.

Why do I write what I do?
I write because life is better for me when I do so. I write what I do because I like to reframe life’s tragedies and absurdities in a funny way.

How does my writing process work?
I write to deadlines ... though I often miss them and then, don’t write. I often write because if I don’t, the ideas will disappear and the notes will just be disconnected scraps of paper. But still, I often don’t write even then. I usually write at night and sometimes into the early morning.

I have tagged Paul Combs and Stephen V. Ramey in this ...

Paul Combs lives in the not always literary state of Texas, and his ultimate goal (besides being a roadie for the E Street Band) is to make reading, writing, and books in general as popular in Texas as high school football. It may take a while. His fiction has previously appeared in Pure Slush, The Faircloth Review, and Postcard Poems and Prose.

Stephen V. Ramey is an American author of contemporary and speculative fiction.His short stories and flash fictions have appeared in dozens of places, from Microliterature to Daily Science Fiction. His first collection, Glass Animals, is available from Pure Slush Books.