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Monday, 22 June 2015

Blog Tour Award - The questions we ask ourselves

Welcome!
This blog post is a bit different from my usual and a bonus for the month of June. Thank you to Rosanne Hawke for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour Award.

Firstly, these are the rules:
1. Pass the tour on to up to four other bloggers.
2. Give them the rules and a specific Monday to post.
3. Answer four questions about your creative process that lets other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do.

The questions are:
1. What am I working on at the moment?
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
3. Why do I write or create what I do?
4. How does my writing/creative process work?

I really appreciate the talents of some other up-and-coming authors: Wendy Noble (writer, reviewer, editor, speaker and very diligent blogger) and James Cooper (all-round writer, writing teacher, and chief editor of the group blog author.docx). Wendy will post her Blog Tour Award on Monday 29 June and James on Monday 6 July.

Although this blog is mostly built around my short stories and poems, I’m going to tell you today about my major novel project.

 1.   What am I working on now?
The short answer is – the same novel I have been working on for six years! But the more informative answer is that I’m actually now writing it as four novels in a series.

I’m thinking of calling the series 'Find Freedom' and this first novel by the same title. In it we follow Meg, a forty-two year old journalist in the City-State of Encaedion in the year 2230. She has been the ‘voice of the voiceless’ throughout her career and has a large following, but she’s starting to ask the hard question: what difference is this actually making? Already discontented with her work and her marriage, life takes a serious turn for the worse when her teenage son is convicted of subversion. Where can you go when your life is falling apart?


my writing space
2.
   How does my work differ from others in my genre?
I don’t write to genre – true confession: I don’t really understand how genre works – which leaves it in the miscellaneous category called ‘literary’. But I’m not clever enough to be what the reading public thinks of as literary…my focus is to write using English well and to tell stories that make readers feel like they know these characters as neighbours. I write about transitions, so the ages of my protagonists (and therefore my target audiences) vary according to the nature of the transition.

3.   Why do I write or create what I do?
I ask myself this question quite often. In the end, I think that it has the same answer as a lot of other things in my life – that I have the opportunity, the desire and a sense that it’s something I was made to do.

A related question: what can I offer uniquely to the myriad of books currently being published? My answer is that there is room enough in the world for every human being to be creative, each uniquely because we are actually unique. There isn’t a quota, or a standard to meet apart from using what we have to the best of our ability and opportunity. It’s not actually a competition (unless you’re after fame and fortune).

4.  How does my writing/creative process work?
This is harder for me to answer because it’s still developing.

I put aside a day a week to write. I learned the hard way that it doesn’t work to do it in the lounge room when your family is around. I key my stories directly to the computer, but I handwrite poetry – for the practical reason that experimenting with formatting is easier with pen and paper. (I used to say I couldn’t think without a pen in hand, but it turns out I can think just as well with a keyboard.)

A map of Encaedion City
I also use an art journal for a haphazard collection of items: newspaper/magazine clippings, hand-drawn maps, arguments with myself about why I need to approach an aspect of the story differently, and for times when I haven’t access to my computer. I am not a visual artist by any means, so mud-maps are about as exciting as it gets in the non-verbal department.





A process flowchart:
 ·      an idea about theme, setting, and the key character
 ·      a rough structure mapped out (plotting is not my forte)
 ·      lots of character notes, scenes written to make the characters act, interviews with them, etc – I had 65,000 words of notes before I began actually writing the story
 ·     a first draft (meaning that some chapters were written five times and others only once)
 ·     feedback on the first quarter from my writing group
 ·     most of a second draft
 ·     decided to convert it into four novels, and proceeded to rewrite the first quarter AGAIN, this time four times longer

My next post will be in mid-July – I hope you’ll pop back for another short story, poem or excerpt from my novel writing. And feel free to drop me a line by comment or email.

See you next time!

Claire Belberg