So, my super-fantabulous, brilliant colleague and fellow writer Margaret Peot tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Margaret is a supremely talented artist, illustrator, costume painter, and author, and one of my favorite people in all of New York City.
Readers of my costume-industry blog, La Bricoleuse, will recognize her name because I’m always pimping her most recent book, The Successful Artist’s Career Guide, every time she does a giveaway, because I seriously wish that I’d read the thing when I was like, 20. Except she hadn’t written it yet then.
The blog tour concept is a pay-it-forward sort of interview-esque thing, in which I answer four questions about my writing process, and at the end, “tag” two fellow writers who themselves will participate and answer the questions in their own blogs. It seemed like a fun idea, and a way to kind of share a little bit of crossover exposure between the respective audiences of the blogs of the writers involved.
So, here are my answers to the interview questions:
1) What are you currently working on?
I guess technically you could say I’m currently working on getting a literary agent. Except I’m in the “waiting to hear back from sending queries” stage, so to keep myself from climbing the walls and forking my eyeballs, I’ve got a few things in process.
I have a trio of short stories that I’m working on—one’s in its first-draft stage and two more are in revisions. The first-draft one is about a college professor who hooks up with the blue-collar father of her least-favorite student, and drama ensues. In revisions, one is a sort of urban fairytale about a boy with sea-urchin hair who knits a dress for a drag queen and falls in love with her, and the other is an open-road story whose protagonist is a retired stripper.
And, I’m also co-writing a piece on a comprehensive survey of mask-making materials with a former student of mine, Candy McClernan. Candy did a poster-session exhibit about it at the USITT conference this past spring, and someone from Theatre Design & Technology asked if she’d write it up for publication. She wondered if i’d be interested in co-authoring, and there you go.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
This question presumes that I have a genre, which I definitely don’t. I think my fiction and creative nonfiction are informed by a fabulist lifestyle and having grown up in the American South. I don’t know exactly why, but formative years spent in the South are like germinating in a hothouse for cultivation of some rich fruit, if you’ve got a bent for wordsmithy.
And I’d love for a whole pile of blogs to spring up about theatrical costume production, that were like La Bricoleuse but written by, you know, OTHER PEOPLE, but so far I have only run across blogging costume designers. Which is great, but my tent’s pitched in the Maker camp.
3) Why do you write what you write?
I write fiction because the demons keep me up at night if I don’t. I write essays to try and figure out where the demons come from. And I write my technical stuff for costuming because I make my living dressing those damn demons, too. (Kidding! I’ve only ever dated two actors. Oh, wait, three. Well, fine, four.)
But seriously, I believe in open-source costuming—theatre’s a collaborative art, and trade secrets are for businesspeople. If I can document something that’s been heretofore undocumented (like how to cover/restore/repair parasols, or how to rubberize shoes properly), someone out there has an easier time of it when they’re asked to do that task.
4) How does your individual writing/illustrating process work?
It started as, “Drink copiously, then rage into a .doc file.”
In graduate school, it consisted of writing critiques every night for a couple hours before bed, and spending 14+ hours on a Saturday drafting or revising.
Now that I’m not in grad school, it involves one of two things. Either I’m at my standing desk, sucking down coffee and working on something long-form in Scrivener (usually first thing in the morning, either for an hour if I have to go to work that day, or as long as I feel the drive, if I don’t), or I’m lying on my couch with my laptop (which is how this post is happening) writing short-form in Word. I guess I also sometimes blog in La Bricoleuse from my office on campus.
I’m a write-in-silence gal—I don’t listen to music, though I do listen to it for creating a mood before writing something. I also tend to work ekphrastically, making moodboards for novels on Pinterest and scrolling through them before or while writing.
For long-form work, I like making structure diagrams and flowcharts on huge pieces of butcher paper tacked to my studio door, too, to get my head around how the book will actually function.
And if I hit a wall on where a piece of writing needs to go next, I go for a walk. There’s a network of trails through the woods by my house, and there are three routes I like to take—a 30-minute one, a 45-minute one, and an hour-long one. Usually I have figured out what’s next by the end of the 30-minute one, but if not, I keep going. So far, nothing’s been able to remain creatively-stuck past the hour-long trail walk.
Now, it’s my turn to tag two writers.
In my very first craft workshop in graduate school (Speculative Fiction with Jim Grimsley), Bryan L. Camp and I got assigned to work as a team in creating a television pilot pitch for a series adaptation of the Chinese legend, Monkey: Journey to the West. We had a fantastic time of it, and he’s become one of my go-to friends for writer feedback on drafts of work in progress. Bryan writes freaky noir-ish speculative fiction weirdness, often centered around his beloved home of New Orleans. I think of his work as the literary equivalent of getting plastered at a juke joint and then jumping into a second-line with Tim Powers and Neil Gaiman.
Sara Crawford is another grad-school pal—she and I took several playwriting workshops together, and also a really fantastic and creatively inspiring “acting for writers” seminar, where we worked with playwrights running scenes from their works in progress, or improvising scenes with their characters. In addition to plays, Sarah writes supernatural YA novels and meta-writing e-books, and the occasional piece for websites like HelloGiggles.