Thursday, July 17, 2014

in the studio

I'm taking an online pottery course this summer and this week we're making footed platters and wall tiles - for the purpose of learning new surface techniques. Here are some process shots, taken in my studio:

Slabs waiting to set up. 
Leather-hard tiles about to be covered (to keep them from drying out).

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Writer Blog Hop

These four questions have been circulating the internet for a few months now in the form of a "Blog Hop". It's basically tag for writers who blog. So, I'm answering them here and tagging two lovely writers at the end who will answer them in turn:

What am I working on/writing?

Right now I’m undergoing a mentorship with an author I really admire and rewriting a fantasy novel. This is my third rewrite and the story has changed pretty drastically since its first incarnation, written four years ago. It's about a dragon hunter whose father will cancel the odious marriage he arranged for her if she can kill the First Dragon – a task so dangerous, no other hunter will take it on.

How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

This is kind of a hard question to answer. I’m in various stages of working on three novels and all three are very different from each other (dreamy/poetic, fast-paced/epic, urban/edgy), so talking about how all three are different from all the other books in my genre? I'm honestly not sure how to do that.

Why do I write what I do?

Well this is an easy question to answer. I write what I do a) because of questions that I'm grappling with, b) as a way to push back against the world’s hard edges, and c) because I want to see the world I know and love reflected back to me.

Example a) I write about characters under forgetting spells because I watched my grandfather slowly forget everything and everyone he ever loved. I listened to people tell me that the man he'd always been was gone and yet, if I looked hard enough, I could still find hints of him. I wrote to answer the question: If someone forgets themselves and everything they love, are they still important? Are they still who they've always been?

Example b) I write about characters who believe that their deepest, truest selves are deficient because that’s what I believed (and sometimes still believe) and because there are plenty of others out there who believe that about themselves too. So I write to challenge this notion.

Example c) I write about characters who are just like those I live and love and laugh with but who I can't easily find in the stories I crave. I want stories to be fantastical, but I also want them to be truthful. I want to see the world I live in reflected in the stories I love.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process has changed a lot over time. With the first incarnation of this novel I’m rewriting, I started at the beginning, had a vague sense of where I wanted to go (a few key scenes throughout the story) and just wrote towards those scenes. The problem with this was that I didn't really know who my characters were, and they ended up feeling very flat. Rarely did they initiate action. More often they were just reacting to things that were happening to them.

With the most recent incarnation (and this is largely due to my mentorship) I started with the main character first (her history, wounds, etc) and only once I had a grapple on her did I start in on the story, loosely plotting it out with her at the forefront. This has given my character more depth. It's also changed the way I view plot - instead of just letting things happen to my character, now the plot exists to challenge her and it forces her (through her actions and choices) to move the story forward. It's a lot harder than the "just start at the beginning and write to the end" method, but it's given my story so much more depth and life.

I assume my process will change more over time, too.

And now I am tagging Anya Monroe and Andrea Brame. Go forth and check out their answers!