I once met a girl who struck me as so peculiar, my mind couldn't quite process her at first. She had thick dark red hair to die for but glasses that didn't do her justice whatsoever. And on the day we met, she was wearing a red plaid dress that seemed out of whack with my sense of fashion. Later on I came to realize that her voice was like a cello, so melodious when she was relaxed, and yet when she trudged upstairs after a tiring day, the sound of her boots reminded me of a little girl.
We were two oddball college roommates in Boston. As young writers, we went through tempestuous, passionate times, living on pennies; trading observations about that most curious of species, men; slaving to please professors and to find our creative voices. To get all poetical about it, we were uncontrolled lava seeking solid form.
Many years later, I count that person, Jenna Zark, as one of my most talented, big-hearted friends. She dresses gracefully now, and is a powerful, seductive writer to boot. When she invited me to take part in a blog tour to share a little bit about my writing process, how could I say no? Last Monday, she passed the blog tour "baton" to me in a blog post of her own.
Below, I answer some questions about myself and then share with you information about three other bloggers whom I enjoy, and whom you might be interested in checking out.
1) What am I working on? That depends on the time of day. Although my schedule sometimes gets derailed, I guard my morning hours like a she-wolf protecting her cub. And the "cub" for me right now is a futuristic novel, which falls in the slipstream genre. In other words, it's a blending of science fiction and fantasy.
This is my first creative writing project that's informed by my many years walking the corridors of large media companies and traveling around the world to cover the business of entertainment. The book foresees what that world (and our larger society) will be like several decades from now. And eventually I hope to adapt it into a film script or TV series.
Before long, I expect to put the book project on hold to redraft a film, which I'm coproducing. I'm now in the process of selecting a director for the movie, and whomever I collaborate with will undoubtedly convince me that certain aspects of the script can be improved. That's the regular process.
In the afternoons, I switch gears and write about reality -- in the form of biographical works about fascinating people and trends related to business. I also serve as an editor for business publications that chronicle the latest twists and turns at media companies and advertising agencies. It's in my blood. I just love it.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? One of the things that distinguishes my novel from many futuristic books that I've read is I'm much more interested in the emotional state of the characters in response to the odd world and occurences they encounter. Sci fi is not interesting to me if it's largely an intellectual exercise. My characters have bruises on their souls, huge desires and they tend to have a black sense of humor.
The film script that I'm producing now delves into a real-life subculture in New York that people pass every day on the streets, but which is rarely explored in the movies, or books for that matter. While that suggests I might have created a drama, I've found a lot of humor in the situations at hand and have created some pretty colorful characters.
When I write about people, I strive to paint an image of what makes them exceptional, to show their inner hearts. I relate the moments in their lives that shaped their character and burnished their talents or sense of purpose.
3) Why do I write what I do? I don't seem to have a choice. I've been a storyteller since I was a young girl. It's the way my mind is built.
4) How does your writing process work? It depends on the project, and there are many aspects to my process. So to keep this answer fairly short, I'll just delve into the initial sparks.
On the nonfiction front, an editor will call me and ask if I'm interested in writing about a certain person or topic. Or sometimes I'll speak with someone and they'll say something that makes me curious -- and then I make an editor curious too, and they publish my story.
With creative writing, it's like falling in love. I don't commit to something unless I'm deeply inspired. And that is also true for books I may write that are nonfiction in nature and explore the lives of certain people. It takes so long to write a book or a film script, that I have to be very passionate about it.
When the concepts hit, they knock me about, and there's no telling when they'll pop up. Once I had an idea for a story while I was crossing the street and was so transfixed I was nearly run over. Over the last year or so, the big inspirations as well as a lot of smaller ones tend to happen in the wee hours of the morning after a few hours of sleep, which is a lot less nerve racking.
Enough about me. Here's some info on other bloggers whose work you might find inspiring, enlightening or just plain fun to read.
Leesa Dean is one of the funniest people I've ever met. She is deeply empathetic and has a lightning-speed intelligence that I enjoy witnessing. All of that feeds into her work.
Leesa's underground comic book, Chilltown (Xeric Award winner for Best Indy Book), has been featured in The Source, Spin & Vibe magazines as well as numerous national newspapers and radio. She created two web series which both debuted in 2013: Chilltown and Lele's Advice (a dating advice show parody). Chilltown has been named one of "Five Web Series That Should Be on Your Radar" by ABCNews/Univision, a "Show to Watch" by Tubefilter and was an official selection at the A3C Festival as part of the Atlanta Film Festival. Every week, she writes, voices and produces Lele's 60 Second Wrap Up, a comedic urban entertainment radio report that can be heard on Rhythm 105.9fm and the Just Wake Up Show. She is a regular contributor to TVWriter.net and Msinthebiz.com. You can check out her blog here: http://chilltowntv.wordpress.com
I met Ken Foster at a writing retreat in Costa Rica and quickly realized he's a dog person's dog person. Within days his "dog radar" led him to a woman who takes in stray dogs. Not just a few, but 40 or so. And she burns their dung for fuel. That's just one micro example of the material this guy has at his disposal when he writes books. While he's penned stories about other topics, the titles of his latest work speak to his passion: Dog Culture (2002), The Dogs Who Found Me (2006), Dogs I Have Met (2007) and I'm a Good Dog (2012). In 2008, he founded The Sula Foundation, which promotes responsible dog ownership among the pit bull population, and sponsors education and outreach in the New Orleans area. Here's a link to his blog: http://kenfoster.blogspot.com
To me, Joanne Zippel is all about inspiration and realizing one's dreams. Her creative coaching business evolved out of her work as a manager of playwrights and screenwriters -- guiding their careers, helping them to pursue their passions and stay true to their creative vision in what is well known as an often difficult, changeable and sometimes arbitrary business. The mission of her company, Zip Creative, is to inspire, support and create community for artists and creative professionals and to provide a forum to share resources. She works with both individuals and groups to open themselves up to their creative capacity, build a solid foundation from which to make authentic career and life decisions and take practical action on them.