A friend of mine forwarded me the questions for the Writing Process Blog Tour – I’m a bit late on it (like five months late) but I thought my readers would be interested in seeing how/why I write.
The rule of the “game” is I’m supposed to forward or nominate other bloggers/writers, but I don’t like doing that because it feels like a chain letter, so instead, I just emailed some folks privately and let them know about this great/neat idea (of which – as always – I’m two steps behind).
Question #1: What are you working on?
At the moment – nothing, I’m ashamed to admit. I just finished a semester in grad school (I’m in an MFA creative writing program – all A’s, so far!), so I’m a bit written out at the moment. I submitted a proposal for a conference on social justice – so if I get into that, I’ll be working on a paper about Hanif Kureishi’s view of Thatcher-era London. I’m also taking a screenwriting class next semester, so I’ve been toying with some ideas for that. Other than that, I haven’t done any writing of my own, and I’ve been bad about the blog because life got very busy (new job, holidays, relatives visiting, etc). Once things settle, I’ll probably try to do some more writing – I wanted to do something Jane Austen-inspired because I’ve had Pride and Prejudice and Emma on my mind a lot lately. I also am planning on putting together some stories about my month in London (I used some of it for some short story assignments in my naturalism class). I’m also hoping to do something larger with my black diaspora in the UK interest.
Question #2: How does your voice differ with others of its genre?
I don’t know if I write in any defined “genre” – I don’t like to write sci-fi or mysteries – not because I dislike the genres, but because I’m not good at following structure or “rules.” I guess one could call my stuff critical essays or pop culture essays as well as creative nonfiction. How is my voice different? Don’t know because I’m still finding my voice. I do think some of my experiences/identities (immigrant, feminist, queer, Anglophile, worked in the nonprofit sector, educator, etc) find their way into my work. I also try – even if I’m writing fluff – to include some aspect of social justice. I read a lot, so it’s difficult to identify my voice because often I feel that it’s a pastiche of all my diverse influences (Julia Child, David Sedaris, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, etc.). This is a good question – I think I should answer it in about 50 years.
Question #3: Why do I write what I do?
This is easy – because I can’t write anything else. I’m no good at sci-fi, mystery, horror – I’ve tried them all, believe me. I like creative nonfiction because the story is already there, it’s just a question of telling it. I’m good at telling stories – people in parties love to ask me to recount some silly adventure I was in – and I’ve always looked at creative nonfiction as just simply telling stories to friends, but in print. My black diaspora in the UK work is part of a larger project I worked on when getting my MA in English literature. I was interested in that topic because my favorite aspect of London – as well as all of Western Europe – is its multiculturalism. I think that the EU will emerge as a major superpower only when it understands and uses its cultural diversity to its advantage, instead of trying to fight it or suppress it.
Question #4: How does your writing process work?
That depends on what kind of writing I’m doing. If it’s academic, then I need lots of time to research, write drafts, outline, map, and plan. If it’s personal/creative nonfiction, I’m more lenient and don’t need a rigid structure. I’ll often work from home, but I’m happy to drag my laptop to Starbucks and park myself at a table for a few hours. One thing I need is music though – I have to have it. And I can only write to film scores – Christophe Beck, Rachel Portman, and Thomas Newman are my go-to’s for when I’m writing. With Beck, I often turn to the soundtrack for Under the Tuscan Sun, which is a great Diane Lane movie about a beautiful middle-aged woman who chucks it all and moves to Tuscany. Thomas Newman’s soundtrack to Angels in America is great, too – very inspiring. I can’t listen to vocal music because the lyrics and the voice will often distract me.