Process can be a very slippery thing and not the easiest thing to put into words. But a worthy challenge.
So, the questions:
1. What am I working on?
After spending four years on a very personal memoir, I have switched gears into playwriting territory. It’s not foreign territory (I earned my bachelors in theater back in the day and spent some time as a literary apprentice at a regional theater in upstate New York), but I’ve been a solid CNF gal for quite a few years, earning my MFA in 2008.
In 2012, I attended AWP in Chicago. While there, I took a tour of an old hotel-turned-college. We passed a blackbox where students were in a tech rehearsal for Streetcar Named Desire. I abandoned the tour and hid in the shadows, watching a pair of 20-year-olds desperately trying to get an on-state toilet to work for no apparent practical reason. I fell in love again. So I spent two years working on a full-length play that I plan to workshop with actors this summer.
In the meantime, I've felt compelled to submit the memoir (about losing my bother in 2007), or chapters from it, to contests and other publication considerations this summer.
2. How does my work differ from other of its genre?
I don’t know if it’s totally different from others except that it (ideally) reflects my authentic voice. Generally, I like to try to keep a sort of balance – using humor to explore serious topics, etc.
3. Why do I write about what I do?
Like most writers, I process the things that happen in my life by writing about them. Unlike a lot of writers, I was never a big reader growing up. Instead, I consistently consumed a broad array of pop culture – music, magazines, joke books, and movies. When I’m writing CNF, I write about my family a lot, and the things of daily life that amuse me. Connections between people - whether they be strong, strained, causal or instant - fascinate me.
In creating this play, I am excited about the notion of creating well-drawn female characters for talented actresses to inhabit. (I create male characters as well, but those actors don’t need my help as much…)
4. How does my writing process work?
An idea usually begins as a fragment of an amusement or preoccupation that I jot down in my journal and then forget about. Once I realize that I’ve jotted the same idea a half dozen times, I just start in. If it’s a larger work, I’ll free-write for a while to get a sense of the piece, then I’ll stop to outline ahead, a few chapters (or scenes) at a time.
I am lucky to have two awesome writing groups. One is local and I’ve belonged for about ten years. The genres of the other writers vary widely, but they are all super smart and we’re all on the same level experience-wise. The other group is made up of grad school friends. We live all over the country but keep in touch once a week and get together a couple times of year to catch up and workshop. I also have close friends who read my work often and who are amazing at separating (or informing) the "real" story and the one being told.
Part Two (words of wisdom from more awesome writers) to come...