Friday, July 18, 2014

a Q&A on Writing

 The past few nights have been filled with writer's passion, the kind of nights where I stay up until some insane hour sketching out a story, or trying to get down ideas for a poem.
I find this kind of fueled frenzy much more wonderful than the kind where I write nothing. While I have no novel in the works, no one story that I'm working on, I always find that wordiness is better than none.
My friend Hannah posted these questions to her blog on writing, so I figured I'd answer a few of them.

* When did you first start writing?
- I've been writing for as long as I can remember, which I know is the clich√© writerly thing to say. I remember writing my first actual story in 2nd grade. It was called little Meerkat's big adventure, and was complete with a construction paper cover and badly drawn illustrations. I still have it somewhere, I think. As crazy as it sounds, little Meerkat was the first 'person' who made me believe I could be a writer

* What was your favorite book growing up?
- When I was growing up, I devoured the Little House on the Prairie series. I shared it with my cousin, and my best friend at the time. I made up pretend games which I literally called the Little House game. My Halloween costume one year was Laura Ingalls. She was, and still is, a huge inspiration to me.

* Are you an avid reader?
- Yes! I read, and own, many books. I don't read as much as I used to, but I still try to read when I can. And there are some books that I can still devour in a day

* Have you ever thrown a book across the room?
- Yes, though I can't remember which book it is and I'm sure it was more for the drama and being able to say I did it

* Have you ever been a part of a critique group?
- Yes and no. I have an amazing community of writers over on tumblr. They are amazingly supportive, and wonderful. I've been a part of a few things were people strictly comment on each other's work, but I never really liked the idea of it. I always felt people were judging me for writing wrong. Maybe I just went to the wrong groups. I'd be willing to try a critique group again in the future, as I love feedback on my work, but for now I like my little online group just fine

* What's your favorite book cover?
- I like John Green's covers, a lot. Also Jodi Picoult's covers. I like things that aren't faces, usually.

* Who is your favorite author?
- The two people I mentioned above. Also love Sarah Dessen, Lisa Genova, Nancy Rue, Ann Brashares

* What's your favorite writing quote?
- Write with blood is always one that's stuck out to me. Also the one about sitting down at the type writer and bleeding.

*What would you say has inspired you the most?
-  The world around me definitely inspires me a lot. the things I'm feeling is a huge, and vital, part of all my work. Even if not directly, almost every single piece is addressed to a person or a situation. And other writers definitely inspire me.

*Would you like your books to be turned into TV shows, movies, video games or none?
- I always said I would love a movie to be made out of a few of the things I've written. I still love the idea, but I think I would be way too much of a control freak to actually let them make a good movie

* How do you feel about love triangles/
- In books or real life? I like the idea of love triangles, but I've seen them quite often in books recently, so I'm getting kind of done with them. The same applies to real life

*Do you outline?
- No. And I've been told I should. It has driven teachers crazy that I don't. Sometimes I wish I did. but I can't, for the life of me, sit down and write an outline. I have an idea in my head of how the story's going to go, and it all goes from there.

*Do you start with characters or plot?
-Usually plot. Sometimes a really good character comes to me and won't leave me alone until I put him/her in a story, but usually I start with a plot and then get character ideas.

*Favorite and least favorite part of making characters?
- I love getting to explore personalities, and how usually they are, in some degree, a reflection of myself and the people around me. I love the research that goes into creating a character, and the time spent searching for the perfect name. I hate having to try and make my characters diverse.

* Favorite and least favorite part of plotting?
- I love it when new ideas come, and they are still undiscovered and great and I see something and go "That should be in a story! Someone should write about that!" And I hate trying to figure out where the plot should go when I'm stuck, and when I'm getting really impatient so I throw in these really awful plot twists.

*Advice to young writers?
- Write your truth. Write because you have something to say. Write bad things (something that took me forever to learn!) and then write good things. Get excited about your work. Ask lots of questions. Read books. Contact other writers, as they will become your best friends on those late nights when you're trying to get an idea out on paper. But mostly I think be honest. As they say, write drunk and edit sober. Or write for yourself and then edit and make it pretty

*What is your favorite genre to write?
- I love writing things that could happen in real life, and exposing issues, and talking about things people don't usually talk about. I also really like writing YA, which is usually pretty much the same thing as when my characters are adults instead of teenagers. Usually I just begin writing what I need to write and the genre kind of unfolds from there. Also, I found out I love writing poetry, and prose. Those are definitely some of my favorites

*Which do you find the hardest: beginning, middle or end?
- Definitely beginning. I think each section has it's challenges. But I find getting started the hardest

*Which do you find the easiest, writing or editing?
- writing, for sure. I hate editing

* Have you ever been published?
- Yes! A few of my short stories, actually. Never a novel, but I'm working on that

*How do you feel about friends and close relatives reading your work?
- For the most part I don't mind it. I appreciate their support, definitely. But I find I can be more honest when I'm writing and I know that no one I know will read it. I think there's always that fear of writing something and putting it out there and then the person it's about finding out. I think it's always scary to be vulnerable like that, especially if it's with people you see every day. But I do appreciate all the support and kind words I've gotten from people who read my blog or just stuff I've written. I love hearing from people that something I wrote impacted them.

*Describe your writing space?
- I am not one of those people who has a neat little writing spot. My writing space is on my bed. I think every single story I've ever written has been writing on this bed, so I guess in that sense it does hold some kind of magic for me.

*What's your favorite time of the day for writing?
- At night, usually when everyone else is asleep. Or when I have the house to myself. I feel more free to write and think and experiment when I feel alone in the world.

*Do you listen to music while you write?
- No. I do listen to music while I'm in the process of writing a novel or something, and have certain songs that hold meaning to me as I write the story, but I never actually listen to music and write at the same time

* What's your oldest work in progress?
- I've started a lot of projects and not finished them. I have no idea what my oldest work in progress would be. I know I have a novel that I started last summer and am still kind of working on. I have an ambitious plan to finish that one day.

* What's your current work in progress?
- I have a couple of poems that are still works in progress. Since I'm going through that phase of writing what I'm thinking and not really filtering, I have a few poems in my notebook about heartbreak and loss that are still very much in progress. And then a few love poems, and a poem about stars. I'm also working on this kind of personal collection of essays thing, which I've been wanting to do for a long time and only have the first little bit done. So I'd love to finish that

*Weirdest story idea you've ever had?
- I wrote this one story a few years back about a girl who went to work on a sheep farm and ended up finding out she had Schizophrenia and driving her car off a bridge. It was, and is, the strangest story I have written to date. Mostly I was just impatient, I think. It was definitely crazy

* Which is your favorite original character and why?
- I have a few! The first short story I got published featured 2 people named Caleb and Ashley. That story, before the editing, was one of my absolute favorites. The first collection of novels I wrote when I was in elementary school featured a guy named Shane. They were totally lame books, but I've always loved his character and wondered how I could bring him back and make him better. Sophie was the main character in my first Nano novel, so she definitely has to be included. At the time of writing, I was very attached to her and always have wanted to revisit her story as well.

*What do you do if your characters aren't following the outline?
- Follow them.

*Do you enjoy making your characters suffer?
- This is going to sound awful, but yes. I love the complexity of the story when my characters suffer in some sort of way.

*Have you ever killed a main character?
- A few actually. I wrote one novel a while ago that was based around my main character's death.

*If you could steal one character from another author and make it yours, who would it be and why?
- I would love to steal Alaska from John Green's Looking for Alaska. I love the different layers of her character, and how complex she is. Also I'd love to steal my Hazel Grace, and Charlotte O' Keefe from Handle with Care.

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