DM Denton (http://bardessdmdenton.wordpress.com) invited me to participate in this Blog Hop Tour and answer four questions about my writing process. Diane is the author of A House Near Luccoli, All Things That Matter Press, an historical romance based on the life of the Baroque musician and composer Alessandro Stradella. An accomplished artist, she illustrates her own books. Her short fiction books include The Library Next Door and The Snow White Gift.
1) What am I working on?
I am taking a stab at philosophical essays, relying more on my sticky-note mind that gloms up ideas, phrases, points of view and a dim memory of wandering into the wilderness from time to time in my life, than any deliberate reading or traditional educational experience. Some of these essays are inspired by a writing group of thinkers, caregivers, teachers, and disabled persons: actually each person in the group embodies several or all of these “labels.”
Currently, I am working on Children of the Moon, or is it working on me? In this long short story, or novelette, a troubling and enigmatic character named Shadow is befriended by several teens. Two teenaged brothers, Sandy and Will, are separated as Sandy is convicted of assault and sentenced to a long jail term. Two teenaged girls, Laurel and Mira, face their own challenges along with those of the brothers. A rancher-lawyer, Morris Rubra, tries to help them all. There’s a bit of mystery in what happens to Sandy, and at the end, an unexpected link to another book of mine.
The other major project, Into The Fire: A Poet’s Journey through Hell’s Kitchen, is much longer. This is what I call a “docu-memoir” of my early years on Manhattan’s West Side, working in the arts and transiting into community services.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Each of my books mixes styles, or genres. In this way, perhaps my writing will bridge the gap between very different people, and if I can achieve it, between and among diverse communities.
I’d like to think I’m part of a trend toward mixing genres and creating new classifications. One popular author, Alexander McCall Smith, in his detective series combines the slimmest mysteries with philosophy, social commentary, ethics, and a dash of history.
Tally: An Intuitive Life (All Things That Matter Press) is part memoir, part biography, and features conversations about philosophy and art history. It differs in that it doesn’t keep to a strict chronology, and two of the main characters’ names are changed, really a literary device. So it’s best described as that new amalgam, Creative Non-Fiction.
Children of Light (BardPress/Ten Penny Players) is a blend, or alternation, of poetry, poetic prose and dialogue, built around the themes or issues, and characters, rather than traditional plot lines. It is traditional in that it is chronological, but even in the specific times and places, there is universality. A reader called it a “poetry novel” years ago and the name has stuck.
Covenant (self-published Kindle Direct) falls into a new category: Boomer Lit. It is primarily historical fiction, with occasional poems, calling on some of my own experiences growing up in Florida in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Other parts came from research and stories I heard later on. There is little embellishment, which there often is in the historical fiction genre, but there are variations of theme and character, so it is my hope (it springs eternal) they appear at different stages, in different lights.
In Children of the Moon, my writing continues in this terse style, with metaphors bundled into a few sentences. These follow one upon another. Each sentence or two sentences is like a Tweet. I began writing like this about twenty years ago as modern life bore down upon me with all its stimulation and diversity. Before that, I was interested in the detail, the finest descriptions. The change helped me cull out the meaningful from the noise, and move on, because so much more is available, out there to be apprehended. Yes, there is a loss of the wonderful detail, the embellishments of 19th Century literature. But I think we receive and take in information differently now.
3) Why do I write what I do?
There’s the sheer beauty of the experience. It began with that, and still does. Writing is also an adventure into the unknown; sometimes it’s a response to a subliminal beckoning: into what you sense but don’t realize that you have any knowledge or understanding of until you make the journey. There are always surprises, times of pain, times of fun and epiphany.
Certain ideas and characters have been with me for years. With them I live through and express my reality. In a way they are avatars that I unleash in fictional or historical settings. The ideas that populate my mind, that Jungian garden, involve human motivation, our essential nature, and our role, if any, in the universe. So there’s a lot about intent, guilt and innocence, identity, relationship with the natural world, love and friendship, freedom, search for meaning, and death.
Tally: An Intuitive Life, for instance, is an unvarnished look at old age and dying, and how we determine the meaning of our lives. It is a story of caregiving and friendship across generations and values and lifestyles. It will challenge you as a reader.
4) How does your writing process work?
It would be a good idea to have one! I suspect I would be more successful. Basically, I sit down and write whenever and wherever I can, as long as I have the space and time to concentrate.
And now, I recommend visiting the websites of these fine writers who have joined us in the Blog Hop:
Grace Peterson is an author, garden columnist and blogger. Depending on the weather she can be found either pecking on her laptop or puttering in her garden. Her blog can be found at www.gracepete.com
Jo Robinson is a South African writer. In her book, African Me and Satellite TV, a woman living in modern Zimbabwe has managed to escape reality for years, until she takes in an elderly domestic worker and begins a journey into the turmoil outside her door and within her own life. Jo also writes short stories, science fiction and fantasy. Her blog on “My Writing Process” starts March 3: http://africolonialstories.wordpress.com/
MaryLee MacDonald is unable to join the Blog Tour since she is working on her new novel. She is a prolific writer of literary fiction and creative non-fiction. Her book, Montpelier Tomorrow, is forthcoming from All Things That Matter Press. Please visit her Author’s Guild website: http://www.maryleemacdonald.us/.
I loved reading why you write Mary “subliminal beckoning” – so true. And thank you so much for including me too!
I’m looking forward to your post next week. And to reading your book, African Me and Satellite TV, in the very near future.
Thank you Mary!
Thank you so much for participating in the tour, Mary! I really enjoyed reading your post – beautifully done in your own thought-provoking and innovative style. I am reading “Tally” currently and am enjoying the challenge immensely! To me, writing, art, creative and reflective thinking, should take one beyond the usual … and that is the journey your writing takes me on.
I was challenged by this blog tour and am happy I undertook it. It made me think about genres and the journey I’ve been on as my writing has evolved. More challenges lay ahead for both of us, I’m sure.
I agree, Mary. I normally don’t like to think about things like genres and processes, either. I just did an interview for Matt Peters, too, and realize that both were good exercises … as was being on It Matters Radio – which is WAY out of my comfort zone. I still feel I would rather ‘speak’ through my writing and art. Or hide away in it ..?
Thanks for liking my blog. I see here you’ve done the same blog hop tour I did on Marta Merajver’s blog a couple of weeks ago. Small world!
Thanks for visiting!
“Tally: An Intuitive Life” sounds so interesting to me as we have lost my father and my brother-in-law in the past five months, and care-giving for the lingering and the dying is still very much on my mind. I just put it on my Kindle – looking forward to reading it soon.
Barbara, thanks. Tally (PJ) was one of those eccentric old men who wasn’t easy to get to know, but in the end it was worth it.
Mary, every word in your reflections branches out into myriads of others for writers trying to work through their own processes. Yet there is one particular thought with which I thoroughly identify: “I am working on Children of the Moon, or is it working on me?” Although our writing processes are different, this question haunts me all the time. Have my books worked on me? If so, what were the effects on later books and on my current WIP? Thank you for being who you are.
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Hi Mary – I hope you’re having a great Monday! Thanks again for tagging me – my post is here http://africolonialstories.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/monday-tag-a-book-day/