My Writing Process Blog Tour

My friend and fellow VCFAer (is that even a word?) Megan Hoak invited me to participate in the My Writing Process blog tour so here I am. You can read her post about her own writing process here. Whew! It’s been a long time. So without further ado…

What am I working on?

I’ve been working on a Secret Project for some time now. It took me awhile to realize that I wanted to write something weird and self indulgent and in order to do that I needed to keep it secret, even promise myself I wouldn’t publish it. Once I did that I found it was so much easier to just write without worrying what people would think of it, or if what I was writing was publishable, or even if it made any sense/worked as a story. I could just write for the pleasure of it, so that’s been wonderful. As for the story itself, I’ve been describing it to people as a bit like Alice and Wonderland if Alice was a teenager and Wonderland was an Underworld. It is creepy and weird and magical and probably the most “me” thing I have ever written. Which is also why it is terrifying and secret. For now.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, it’s a portal fantasy and as far as I can tell not a lot of portal fantasies are being written for YA audiences. That seems to mostly happen in middle grade books. Why is that? Also, the magic/fantasy elements are less straightforward. I see a lot of fantasy books with vampires or werewolves or ghosts or witches or insert magical creature here________. I wanted to be more subtle about defining the magical creatures. Although, really, there’s nothing subtle about them or the magic.

Why do I write what I do?

You might as well ask someone why they breathe the way they do. I always loved stories with magic best. Fairy tales, ghost stories, fantasy. And especially portal fantasies. I was in love with the Wizard of Oz as a kid even though I wanted the complete opposite of what Dorothy wanted. She wanted to go home. I wanted to go to Oz. But aside from love, my brain thrives on metaphor and symbolism and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything more metaphorical or symbolic than fantasy literature. As for why I write for younger audiences (mostly) I guess it’s because I grew up reading kids books and never stopped. Also, my protagonists always seemed to be teenagers. Go figure.

How does your writing process work?

That’s a bit hard to define because I’ve experimented with so many writing processes over the years, especially in my MFA program. But the process for writing this book has basically been to write about 250 words a day (sometimes more) and try not to fiddle too much. It’s helped to write a lot of the scenes out of order, more or less as the ideas strike me and to occasionally dip into backstory. It also helps to write in small chunks because when I get stuck and don’t know where I’m going I can just spend 250 words describing the scenery 😉 I’m trying to get as much written as I can before I go back and start changing things and filling in gaps. The result is an incomprehensible mess, but I think it’s made writing more fun for me because I can just skip to the parts I’m excited or curious about.

Next week

Next week two more fabulous writers will be posting about their writing process on their own blogs. Go check them out on April 21st!

Laura is a writer, artist, photographer, and world traveler who passionately pursues the full expression and experience of life. She recently received her MA in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University, where she focused on the intersections of tourism and community development.

Helen Kemp Zax. In July 2013 Helen received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she won the Critical Thesis prize for “Learning to Feel: Practicing Empathy in Coming-of-Age Novels.” Several of her haiku and poems have been published, and a number of her poems have won awards. She has taught writing at all levels, from elementary to post-graduate. She lives with her husband Leonard and their crazy Australian shepherd, Huckleberry Finn, in Washington, DC, where she spends her days walking Huck in the woods, writing poetry, and working on hernovel—a mystery narrative/verse mash-up called MISSING.

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6 thoughts on “My Writing Process Blog Tour

  1. Great post, Shawna! I love that this story is more “you.” And I love a portal fantasy. I love being taken to new places. I also wanted to stay in Oz and even Narnia. I’m glad the characters got the opportunity to remain in both.

  2. Shawna–this is just so gorgeous. I love what you are doing. Everything about it. The freedom. The immersion into what you love best. The symbolism, the magic, the metaphor. I’m already in love with this story and am hoping that some day you’ll break your promise not to let anyone see it.

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