Writing Process? Hmmm.

Yes, I have a writing process. I guess all writers do. I spent a lot of my second year trying to find one. The first year, I just merely wrote the darn thing. Then I joined a group and found 'real' writers and tried to understand the process. Of course I might have had a bit of impetus for searching when two people I care about had this to say:
      I"ve burned better.--mother-in-law
      Get a storyboard and try again.--best friend who is an English Major/Educator and reads mysteries.

That sort of thing rocks your confidence a bit that perhaps what you've created out of nothing is a bit off. However, I also was very intrigued to have a hidden place in my mind that could write stories and be bombarded with more so fast I couldn't write them down. Never happened to me before. Didn't ever like writing anything, but was always a voracious reader. The sensation was like finding the plug in the bottom of the ocean and giving it a jerk, darn thing opened and I was caught in the swirly as it dumped into a different dimension.

So the initial writing process went like this:
1.    Had an idea about a story when I was about fifteen.  I thought it should be written by a real writer if ever I met one. I had devoured the entire science fiction wall of the local library, started on other fiction, and then came romance stories. The idea I had was that the world was suffering from over human population and too much sentiment on saving those who were never going to make it. Remember, I come from a farm background that includes several species of animals as well as wild. Some members of the herd don’t make it. And inbreeding is a severe problem that stunts and warps animals due to recessive genes. So, none of that either. And then Hybrid vigor, a proven law of genetics that two straight lines crossed to a hybrid child means a stronger, healthier, bigger, amazing animal—which includes people too as we are mammals. Look how much taller and robust each succeeding generation of American’s are compared to those a few generations back. Ok, nutrition and other resources are important too. Therefore my story idea. Prove your worth to have children by a trek of a thousand miles on foot through the proving zone. Don’t go through, you can’t have children, but you can do whatever you wish with your life. But all Zone stories must have happy endings and, of course, in my teenage mind strong love would see both characters through to the Got There Tavern in Randar, a town where the last step was located. In that story, only the woman made it….
Then I read a story by Jayne Ann Krentz whose lead character was a writer and she wrote that people will approach writers with stories to write, but writers have too many already. I was sorely disappointed to read that and complained to my lovely husband. He looked at me like I was an idiot (this happens quite often with reciprocal looks upon occasion). He said, “If you’d have written a chapter a YEAR you’d know how the story ends by now.” Dang, he was right, so I started. That night. Big problem. Couldn’t write it. But, I did write the story of her sister who was inspired by the story. The first isn’t written yet, but I know how it ends.
2.    Next step was: Sit in chair and write down what characters are doing. Write until I couldn't see what happened next or until characters were written into a corner.
3.    Sit in chair, read last few pages of yesterday’s work, and write what characters did to get out of their situation until they were written into a corner again.
4.    Repeat step 2.
5.    After story completely written, show it to some folks for comment.
6.    Show to someone who had some editorial instincts and let them loose on it.
7.    Fix egregious errors, but left mostly intact.
8.    Take new editor to lunch. She works for food.
9.    Try to buy marketing books from lovely bookstore clerk who knows everything-Penny.
10.Penny asked me if I’d written a book and what kind and let me know WARA existed.
11.Joined WARA and writing life has never been better.

Current writing process is a bit less straight forward, because I keep trying to write like the big girls do and some of the classic writing advise is very counter to me, my writing ability, and my work/story style. However, with WARA, I’m never alone, I get encouragement, and I get real life help. Never underestimate a romance writers group for sheer wonderfulness, WARA in particular.

Our farming operations have almost doubled in the fourteen years I’ve been writing. My duties there with more and more government involvement in actual farming, employee regulations, EPA regulations on fuel, fertilizer, other chemicals and their application as well as some regulation changes on Grain elevators, grain handling companies and seed cleaning, we’re a little challenged. Someone has to man the phones, seek information, and keep us out of jail or bankruptcy or IRS audits.

Then there is family things and idiocy of my own which has me on crutches. Turns out doing three things at once including arms full of sacks, one sandal on one off, heading for the bathroom at a fast clip, with a throw rug obstacle is a recipe for personal damage. Who knew?

So, on to current process.
1.    Guilt for not writing on novel.
2.    Double that on most days.
3.    Read RWA magazine while waiting in vehicle at whatever location for the other person.
4.    Finding all the copies of the last WIP out of the old computer files and finding out I’d been editing at least four copies. God Bless Windows 7.
5.    Learn new software to be able to combine the copies into the most recent edit.
6.    Now working on only one copy.
7.    Read WIP as kindle to check flow.
8.    Taking care of rough spots where flow isn’t flowing.
9.    Admiring genius of myself.
10.Up to page twenty in final edit.
11.Finally found the right word combination in one really awkward sentence.
12.Found Romance Beat Sheet from WARA connection.
13.Checked the romance on WIP and had happy dance party.
14.Keep editing to smooth out the story and then send it to friend who edits for food. Should be el finite by then.

I do have other idea and other works in process but only beginnings and I seem to be able to only do one at a time. I think that is something I need to get away from. I’ll work on it.

As far as a story grabbing me, it generally works like this.
A.   I’m driving, taking a shower, or whatever mindless task is happening.
B.   An idea about something funny or a what if pops into my head.
C.   Sometimes it won’t let me think of anything else and with every thought the story grows until I have to write it down a bit to let it release me so I can sleep, or whatever.
D.   Then the videos play in my head like movie parts.
E.    Then I see how parts of the story unfold as the characters meet others or other circumstances happen to them.
F.    Examples: The Children of Easy Virtue Texas. Yup, that’s the title. It wouldn’t let me go for two weeks. Just until I’d written enough to get the idea of how it would play out. The whore house is taller than the church which causes some problems. The prostitutes have a retirement plan and raise their children themselves for awhile and then are sent back east for schooling, the problem is all of the unwanted kids that start getting dumped on their doorstep….but it’s a western for God’s sake. I’m not doing westerns—yet. Then a character who is very particular and made it up a social rung or two only to find herself lonely and wanting a construction worker or someone like that in her life—contemporary. Or a story about a poor divorced romance writer who is reusing tea bags and her landlord who isn’t sure she’s not a hooker for teenage boys or just bug-nuts—contemporary. Or a woman who has been kidnapped by a mob family because their current leader is a man taking the family legit and isn’t finding a wife, so they’re going to get him one. She worked at the Vatican for several years on their ancient clocks—contemporary. A guy who finds out he has some strange genes that cause him to go in heat like lions do and find a woman who he mates with for life, but he doesn’t know until she’s already left town—contemporary science fiction. Over 21 story lines that include the Proving Zone. Like the guy who was kidnapped and dumped there and left to die—but he doesn’t and the woman who eventually finds him.
Most of the stories have some kind of irony that tickles my funny bone and that’s what draws me to thinking of them and how they’ll play out. But sometimes the characters bend and twist the story to suit themselves and they come out much deeper and richer—and sometimes scarier.

My other work in progress is The Ship’s Bastard and they’re afloat at the moment and fighting about which way the ship ought to be going. I’ve written them in a corner. My daughter says light the ship on fire and see what happens. We’ll see.

I want to stress that part of my process has been trying to get more dialogue in. Because that put some of the characters out of character by the time I had the book half written, I had to go back and change it. Because I listen to others on what has to be in and where, I have had to do a lot of re-writing and then re-re-writing because my writing was losing my unique voice. Too much re-writing can cause a story to go flat and voiceless. Beware of trying to do what ‘everyone’ thinks is important. Each of us is unique and have a different twist or outlook on any given situation. THAT is the part of your talent to nurture and keep. Don’t worry overmuch about what your theme is for your writing. Sure, it will make more money quicker in the long run of a career, but if you go and look at early work of many famous writers, they had to get some writing out of their system before their writerly brains found their own personal serious theme to their books. Yes, I’m supposed to keep to one genre. Yup. Like that worked. In my Zone stories I have Tarzan like survival issues, romance, some science fiction, definitely futuristic, and for goodness sake, let’s not forget family issues.

By the way, the first story did not get a lot of changes before going to the public. The public has been quite enthusiastic about the Zone story. So not all stories are for all people. Remember that and stay happier.

Some of WARA have helped me through writerly nerves and that has been phenomenal! If you have crisis of writerly identity, there’s no better place to be.


PS. To write you have to write. Just do it.


Pat Davids said...

Nina, WARA is lucky you found us. Even from far away you entertain and educate us.

The evolution of our writing process is as unique as our fingerprints. Thanks for sharing your story, and stories, and I really like the whorehouse that's taller than the church. Can't wait to read that one.

Penny Rader said...

I love the title The Children of Easy Virtue Texas and I want to read the story!

I'm so glad you found WARA, Nina. Your posts always make me think and often make me laugh (in a good way!).

Hope you're off your crutches soon.

Nina Sipes said...

Ok you guys. I'm not doing WESTERNS! Or at lest not yet. However, it is a cute story in its bones. The preacher's wife goes to talk to the madam and finds out that lemonade with a kick is kinda nice with a breeze...because the top part of the house of ill repute is essentially a tall short walled veranda. They've made it shady and breezy. The preacher's wife and the madam become friends. She told her husband before the first visit that although it wouldn't be seemly for him to visit the madam, that she was sure that perhaps the madam and those other women could use some spiritual influence by someone who wouldn't be negatively influenced by exposure to such women....
That amused me. It is all those extra children that starts causing issues.

Nina Sipes said...

Pat, You're so kind! Entertain...hmmm. You gotta get out more. You've been so much practical help to me and I've so appreciated your time spent keeping my little moccasins headed toward the water hole and away from all the fears I can imagine. In some ways WARA acts like a tribe of people on the same path. Those of more experience help with time and advice and gentle prodding to help get us all to the hunting ground of publication.
With those metaphors I might actually be heading towards westerns. OH NOOOOOooooo!

Nina Sipes said...

Hi Penny, Yup, as the natives say, it is easier to be from Easy Virtue Texas than explain it.

I've begun to think of you as the Queen of Blogsville. You may or may not be aware of it, but you seem to have the most followers, your posts cover many writers in many different genres as well as placements on the path to publication and beyond, and they're easy to understand. That pretty well indicates you have a sublime talent for Blogging. In vaudeville, you'd have a premium spot as a headliner.

Thinking and laughing. That's a good response I think. I think I'll copy off yours and Pat's response and hang it next to my 'reject' pile for a sense of balance. Thank you.