Sort of about my writing process but mostly about three online journals that I really enjoy

Tag_You're_It.MEMEI love being tagged in memes, but I rarely go out and do them, because I hate to tag other people: it feels too much like you’re imposing an obligation on them. However, Amy Sundberg has shown me the way–she just uses her “I tag you” space to talk about other blogs that she likes. And since I have recently encountered a number of great author-blogs, I am 100% down with that strategy.

Anyway, the meme is the My Writing Process meme. And the questions are:

 

What are you working on?

Well the answer, my friend, is that right now I am working on nothing. However, in the near future, I hope to get to work on revising at least 3-5 of my MFA stories, so I can throw them out into the world. And I also plan on writing a middle-grade novel whose plot and voice I’ve sort of worked out (by doing, no joke, 23 versions of the first chapter). The novel also has the most concise description which I’ve ever managed for a book: It’s about the trials and tribulations of the only Voldemortish kid in an entire town full of Harry Potter-type chosen ones.

 

How does your work differ from other works in its genre?

I think my work is much higher-concept than most writing for kids. On the concept level, alot of children’s books are variations on the same old thing (“in my evil dystopia, there’s no music allowed” or “In my romance, the girl falls in love with her main rival when she competes on a Gordon Ramsay-style cooking show!”). Basically, all they’re doing is shifting the set-dressing, but underneath they’re using the same plots, character types, conflicts, and value systems as all the other stuff. In my case, I feel like the concepts are fresher, and they integrate with concept and character in a more natural way.

 

How does your writing process work?

It’s always evolving. Lately, I’ve been more careful to listen to what my unconscious is trying to tell me and to interrogate my work as I go. If I feel like something isn’t working quite right, I don’t forge ahead, I back off and circle around and try to figure what I can do. This leads to alot of rewriting, particularly in the beginning (remember those 23 drafts), but I think that it results in a much more cohesive and well-thought-out result. Once I’m under way, though, I tend to produce my first drafts relatively quickly (often in under 30 days). As for revision, I don’t have a very concrete system down, since I’ve only taken two books through to the final stages of revision, and, in both cases, much of the revision happened as a result of my agent’s (always very astute) critiques. Other than him, I don’t really use any first readers (though maybe I should).

 

Other blogs

Alright, so I am not tagging these people or asking them to respond in any way whatsover. Instead, I’m just going to point out three great author blogs that I’ve only very recently discovered:

  • Justine Larbalastier is a young adult writer who posts in an incredibly clear and concise way about the publishing industry and the path of the new writer (I guess she’s not new, since she’s been publishing for a decade, but still, she’s at least in tune with newness). I don’t think she posts that often, but when she does, it’s usually something thought-provoking. For instance, right now she’s beginning a series where she reads and writes about classic works of best-selling women’s fiction (Valley of the Dolls, Peyton Place, Flowers in the Attic, etc). That’s so brilliant: I was a bit annoyed that I hadn’t thought of it myself.
  • Malinda Lo is another young adult writer who posts a lot about issues of diversity (particularly queerness and race) in the YA world. Without her blog, I’d pretty much know zero about any of the LGBT YA that’s not written by David Levithan. Her most recent post is a very thoughtful analysis of her feelings, as a Chinese American, about white Americans writing Chinese protagonists. No easy answers there, but there’s only worthwhile way to blog about cultural appropriation issues, and that’s by looking deep into yourself and writing about what you find there (which is a surprisingly hard thing to do).