The Writing Process Blog Tour

Because she is such an asshole, Jen Lambert tagged me in this blog tour. Honestly, though, it's probably for the best. My life has been such a scramble post-AWP (new quarter, kids on spring break, and manuscripts--so many manuscripts). The truth is, I've kind of been neglecting the blog. So here we go. Question 1: How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I don't generally compare my work to anyone else's because it's not an exercise that seems in any way fruitful. (This isn't entirely true. Sometimes I read something incredible and think really, I shouldn't even bother anymore, but that's more a question of overall quality and not distinctive qualities, and so...) Instead, I think I'll talk about how my current work differs from my previous work.

Over the past few years, my work has become increasingly narrative and dependent on a longer form. I have, for many years, worked almost exclusively in series, and mostly in persona, and as time has gone on, I've wanted to spend longer and longer stretches with a single voice. The infanticide poems were individually narrative, the Ella poems were like a short story in verse, the Witch manuscript is a novel in verse, and since the Witch, I've been working almost entirely in fiction. Interestingly, at the time I was picking up prose, the last poems of the witch series became even more spare. My poems do not have a prose like quality, and I suspect never will, which is probably what pushed me into fiction.

Question 2: What am I working on?

Good question. Currently, I'm working on a novel. Maybe. Unless I throw it out. Which is possible. I've written this thing to about 80K words maybe four times now. If it doesn't crack open soon, I'm tossing it. I'm almost always writing about power and privilege. Often, this is divided along gender lines. Right now I'm interested in consumerism and social class and patriarchy and how comfortable the patriarchy can be for the women at the top.

Question 3: Why do I write what I do?

Obsession. I write whatever I'm obsessing about. Usually it's a story or a character or a voice. For poetry, sometimes it's just a line.

Question 4: How does your writing process work?

Ha! Good one. Who knows.

I can say that I am pretty meticulous even in drafting. I revise line by line, so that by the time a piece is fully drafted, it's pretty polished. At least at the sentence level. This process works really well for poetry, but in fiction it often means that huge swaths of really clean text just gets deleted. Many, many, many pages of carefully crafted paragraphs just go away because I changed a plot point. I should say that when I do this, I actually cut the text into a separate document, so it's not like they're gone forever, but I also don't really find myself retrieving those pages, so they may as well be. I don't like cobbling things together, so I don't really rearrange or reuse pieces I've already banished. I write from the first page to the last, and if it goes off the rails, I go back to the beginning and find the derailment and start over from there. And that's just the first draft. So, I don't know. It works slowly? Let's just go with that.

Next up: Steven D. Schroeder and Denise Emanuel Clemen