I read the blog, ZEN AND THE ART OF TIGHTROPE WALKING about Vivenne’s writing process as a part of the current blog tour that’s doing the rounds. She kind of tagged me. So go read her post. It’s a good one. Also, feel free to do the questions yourself. Add the hashtag #MyWritingProcess and see what else is out there on Twitter.
Here we go: E.J. Runyon in four questions.
What am I working on?
Three things. A novel, A House of Light and Stone, which just got picked up by Inspired Quill, UK. There’ll be final edits coming from the publisher. Then, I have a stack of personal journals I’m reading and making notes from— that’s research for a new WIP (novel). I plan on starting in April. I’ll probably work on that for 4 or 5 months, into the summer. Lastly, I’ve got Revision for Beginners in the works for a, hopeful, 2015 release: non-fiction.
In A House of Light and Stone, we meet Duffy, a precocious ten year-old is from a large, mixed-race, single-parent family. It’s East Los Angeles 1967, pre-La Raza and Chicano Pride. Duffy lies, cheats, and steals as easily as she excels at skipping grades. She steps in, acting the little mom to her family for her overwhelmed mother.
Her thieving and lying continue even after she makes a pact with her idealistic social worker, Mr. St. John. The deal: during the coming year Duffy will accept the challenge of gaining Self-Knowledge (a quest, in her eyes: to become ‘a real girl’).
Duffy spends the year trying to let go of old family ways and questing, in her childlike way, for something more than that which her tribe accepts as their lot. Mama may still beat her, and perverts will cross her path with sickening regularity, but Duffy perseveres. In their new neighborhood, Duffy meets blonde Becca, who looks so much like Duffy's own sisters.
Becca’s mom, Mrs. Bettencourt, runs the corner market. Like all quests, a riddle lies in just who Mrs. Bettencourt is to Duffy’s family. Only Duffy seems to recognize the undercurrents between Mama and Mrs. B., a romantic situation which evolves, overlaying Duffy’s year of discovery, and her own crush on a cello player—Joanna, whose family befriends Duffy, come summer.
Her final, self-imposed task in her quest is a misguided attempt. Rather than trusting her own gift of poetry, Duffy turns in a copied poem. Unfortunately, it’s a well-known one. More to atone for and more to confess. This is her cross-road.
Will Duffy choose being a thief and a liar all her life, or believe in herself enough to risk using her gifts of imagination and ingenuity for good? Finally, in catechism class Duffy offers up her last prayer. This one is just for her.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write Literary Fiction. But of course any subject matter that has LGBTQ elements to it gets categorized that way, rather than as simply non-genre fiction. I think the main way my stories transcend that inevitably is that they are really stories about people first.
Some of my main characters simply happen also to be gay, straight, trans, questioning, or lesbian. Their stories are not their sex-lives or attractions, wrapped into a story’s situations. But rather—simply put — they’re stories of people’s lives. Many peope.
You can see that in the 17 short stories that make up Claiming One, my first release, a 2012 short story collection. 8 of those stories do have LGBTQ characters. But those 8 aren’t written or fashioned any differently than the 9 accompanying ones are.
Why do I write what I do?
I seem to be born to write life’s quieter moments. I’m an observer. The gift is that I see much more than what’s before me. I’m always asking ‘What if?’
If you have any amount of poetic vision you’re going to need work that touches deeper and notices more. So you see the normal as bigger than life. Your work focuses on that trick of transforming the ordinary into something so much more profound.
For me, I need to create things that mirror some deeper life. So all around me, I borrow these small lives I can reflect on, renovate, and return to the reader with interest. All the smaller bits of business that others don’t readily recognize— I guess I make out patterns, from extrapolating the What if’s of thoughts and actions, I can shake them up and give them back to the reader; light shining on the softer, overlooked moments I’ve discovered and pointed out.
How does my writing process work?
Well, because I run Bridge to Story, http://www.bridgetostory.com/ I coach and edit as much as doing my own writing. I’m as much about showing others how to do what I do as I am about doing it myself. I spend part of each day working with others in 1-on-1 Skype sessions or off-line edits. And another part of the day is spent working on my own projects.
The remainder’s used up on teaching at the local Community College (when enough folks enroll) and keeping up my FB pages and websites. Luckily, I’m doing all this as my day job.
If I were also working for a living, (rather than playing) I’m not sure what my process would look like. In the lean times, between semesters, or when no one schedules sessions, then I get some down time.
Not much down time, because my mind’s constantly at work. Creating new curriculum from my writing guide, Tell Me (How to Write) A Story . Thinking about my client’s issues with their own manuscripts. Phrasing and re-phrasing dialogue for my own characters. Seeing. That a big one. Seeing so many story elements in my head and capturing the bones of what I find within . I begin one book each year. So there’s always something going.
For a few years I had a place to stay in Halifax, Nova Scotia– while I wrote, at a friend’s house. A room to sleep in and one to write in. I kicked off a few novels there. My end of the exchange was that I brought Mexican foods from the states, and contributed some dinners and breakfast muffins to the household during my stays.
When I get to writing, I can be anywhere. I’ve written novels when I use to commute on the Cal Train, from San Francisco, down the peninsula to Redwood City. I’d have nearly 4 hours of travel time daily, to El Cerrito in the East Bay, and I’d write both up and back. It was heaven.
About The AuthorE.J. Runyon Author, Writing Coach at Bridge to Story at Bridge to Story http://www.ejrunyon.com/
I am a writer, coach, and the creator of BridgetoStory.com, a writing service providing instruction to novices and other writers online and off. I've coached writers as individuals and in small groups since 1997.