So apparently there's a movement of sorts, passing the blogging baton from poster to poster, under the rubric "World Blogging Tour." The runner who's just come up on me is BlarneyCrone herself, Liz Barron, who's shown up here before. And here. And elsewhere but alas not the point of this post. My job is to reply to the following queries, one of scores, hundreds, thousands, well, at least four bloggers, including Liz (who answered here) participating:
What am I working on?
While I've been blogging less in the past few months, I've been writing more, finishing up some old pieces, including short stories, revising a novel, rough drafting a memoir, and applying to contests and residencies. I'm at the start of a year-long self-imposed writing intensive, which I've been waiting to begin since I was, say, 16.
I got the idea for the novel/trilogy I'm working on walking past the North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts, site of one of the early battles of the American Revolution. The novel has nothing to do with that but the nearby visitor center (it's now a national park site) has a bookstore that sells the work of famous Concord writers, yup, those pesky Transcendentalists, among them Ms Margaret Fuller, who was not of Concord but spent much time in it. There, on Patriots Day, in 2004, a Massachusetts-only holiday that the rest of the world knows as Boston Marathon Day, I found a small booklet written by Carolyn Wells Healy Dall, containing her recollections of the famous "Conversations" that Margaret convened in Boston in the late 1830s-early 1840s. By the time we were back in the parking lot, I'd conceived the idea for a story, which turned into the first volume of the novel, which has spawned a second...
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
This question raises so many others that I can barely answer it. Genre? Having written business books, articles, humor, poetry, children's stories, literary fiction, satire, and whatever this blogging thing (now in its 9th year) is, I'll go with "completely."
Why do I write what I do?
Phrases and sentences are always running through my head. Before a thought is complete, I'm often rewriting it. Titles appear as I'm trying to park the car, choose an item from the grocery shelf, click on a website. I write out of compulsion and desire, often with someone in mind whom I imagine is interested. (Are you? Only you know for sure.)
Much more wants to be written than is and I spend a good amount of time castigating myself for not writing more.
So why do I write what I do? Because this configuration of molecules, born of New York parents in a small Pennsylvania Dutch town not far from Philadelphia, is passing through its unique spacetime, absorbing, shedding, observing, ignoring, and desperately trying to make sense of this confusing wonder called life. That's why.
How does my writing process work?
I write very quickly, typing as fast as I can, then stop due to time constraints, hunger, an interruption, or because I'm suddenly pleased to see that I've gotten 1000 words out. Then I go back before going on, retreading the same words. A "final first draft" for me could have 30 or 40 passes before the end. This is probably not the best way to write but it's the only way I've ever written. It's as if starting at the beginning gives me the momentum I need to leap ahead. Although I want to get everything out as quickly as possible, I hold on to material for eons, which means I have cartons and cartons of unfinished stuff. My hope is to get a lot of that material into circulation in the months to come.
Now, according to Liz, I'm supposed to pass the baton to four other bloggers. Here goes, Bill Ives, whose blogging helped get me started, the inimitable Alex Bain, Myfanwy Collins, to whom very good writing things are happening, and to Jon Keller, author of Of Sea and Cloud, who's just started blogging.