Writing process blog hop

The following blog post is one that Cassie roped me into. A good thing too, given that I’m somewhat poor in posting regularly. But on the tail of my previous post about how I wasn’t writing much, I have been thinking about what I should be writing and working on, and find myself in the process of ‘sorting my shit out’. Writing often goes in cycles. This is the start of the cycle again.

So, the rules of the Writing process blog hop are simple; Answer the four questions below, link back to the person who invited you, and name the people who will be posting the following Monday.

I can do that. Well, I don’t think I have anyone else to rope in, but I can do the other two. First one done. Now to answer the questions.

What am I working on?

Good question. A number of things actually. Chief among them was looking into a test serial idea I came up with called Trees Don’t Lie. In it, a guy returns to the small town in NZ that he grew up in to track his missing father. This ends up strongly tied to all the reasons he escaped in the first place, and worked strongly on the premise that everyone has one secret that they just can’t let be known.

Ultimately it was small town weirdness sorta like Twin Peaks. But I was realizing that the novel draft I’ve just finished (Kingdom of the Sun) follows the same sort of premise as Trees Don’t Lie. More on than in the next question.

Additional to that is draft 2 of Kingdom of the Sun. Which for all purposes is probably my biggest and most primary project. Trees Don’t Lie ended up becoming an exploration in ‘if my fantasy novel is about this world, what is the rest of the world like?’.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ve come to understand that I really do write what I know. I also write what I wish I could read. Most of what I write tends to revolve around the same ideas, world wise, that there is more out there than what we can see with our eyes alone, a typical Polynesian standpoint.

Kingdom of the Sun is about a guy who has lost everything, and starts having what he can only hope are dreams of another world in which he is a prophesied king. The more he spins into his madness, the more he realizes that he can see the world others can’t; one where man and magic once co-existed, now separated by mankind’s focus on technology, and scientific understanding over spirituality.

In short, it’s post apocalyptic magic realism epic fantasy (yuh-huh). It differs from others of its genre because I think it blends so many elements into a real world setting in a way only I could.

The more I got into the fantastical side of Cay’s journey, the more I realized that the strange, but ultimately mundane setting of Trees Don’t Lie was the real world side of the coin. My thoughts there became ‘if this is the realm where magic exists, what does the world look like where there are only those tiny hints left?’.

People who are checking out the blog I’m involved in over at the 42nd Parallel will probably recognize this rhetoric. I’ve been talking at length there about the beautiful borderline weirdness of True Detective, The King in Yellow and Twin Peaks.

Why do I write what I write?

It’s what I want to read, and I don’t think it exists. I grew up reading fantasy. Being Maori and gay, I wanted to read my story, my experiences. Why can’t there be gay characters in fantasy, and why not just make it something that is, more than something that is extraordinary (there’s now plenty of good fantasy that includes this now, but I always want more). Why can’t the characters be something other than white? Why can’t the fantasy be something other than western medieval?

I write what I write because it’s what I know, ultimately. And the more I look at what I’ve written in the last number of years, the more I realize that I’m doing this more and more. It really is true, write what you know. You’ll end up pulling your thoughts, world view and everything else into the mix.

How does your writing process work?

Right now? Poorly.

Normally, with great regularly and structure. I need to do it as close to daily as possible. At the most it’s one sitting a day, with time off for good behavior (aka weekends) and even then I think I should be writing more.

I count the words I write, the time it took, the amount of coffee I drunk. Where I wrote. It’s usually a cafe, under the aural protection of some music. Right now that’s the Game of the Thrones season 3 soundtrack.

More broadly, I keep endless notes. It’s generally something related to the project I’m working on. Or it’s something related to something else that I want to work on. Note it down. It’s generally Notepad(.exe), in my writing folder that’s backed up locally, and into the cloud.

I write usually with Open Office, recently Scrivener, and hopefully soon OmmWriter (which I’ve now bought).

I write. Endlessly if possible. Until done. I don’t edit or read back. If something needs to be written back, I just start from where it occurred to me. Cay ended up with a club foot about 8 chapters in, because I forgot he had one. I finish it. I hide it (digitally and mentally speaking at least) in a bottom draw, and come back to it a month later.

I think ‘wow, this isn’t actually as bad as I thought’. I always think this after the draft is done. I always think during the draft that it’s ultimately unreadable pivel. This is why I do everything else I’ve noted above, to get words on paper.

I work on the next draft. Don’t like that at all. Some people revel in process of turning this coal into a diamond. I still haven’t learned to love this part of things. It’s horrible work. Draft 1 is fresh ideas given life. Draft 2 is beating that life to death and hoping it comes out better for it. It does. It feels like starting all over again though.

Rinse and repeat.

I dream. I think. I day dream. I procrastinate. I observe life. I watch TV. I watch movies. I read. I have good days, bad days. Worse days. I hear music. I watch people walk by. I talk with friends. I write. I beat myself up for not writing. And in all of that I occasionally see glimpses of a world or idea or scene that makes me think I should write that down. That could make for a bit of a good story.

With that spark, worlds and characters are born. The rest is just me telling their story the way they let me see it. There’s magic in the world. It’s the ability to tell stories, and see the magic in those stories.

Four questions done. I hope to tighten up on my processes for the next month at least. More regular everything. Including blog posts. Back into the saddle. Cay needs a place in the world.

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