I was asked by Jeannine at Distilled from the Stars if I would be willing to answer some questions about my creative process as part of a virtual blog tour. Uh . . . do I want to write a bit about my favorite thing ever? Why yes, I do! So here are my answers to the four questions posed:
What am I working on?
I’m about ninety percent done with the first draft of a novel. It’s about Dex Flowers, a forty-two-year-old man who is out on parole after serving fifteen years for murdering his wife. He’s trying to live clean and straight, making amends for his past, and is determined to stay away from the things that plagued his life before prison—cocaine, whiskey, and women. But he’s haunted by memories of his dead wife and is being stalked and threatened by her father who has a history of drug abuse and violence. And . . . other stuff happens—I struggle to put into words what my books are about while I’m still writing them. It’s a little too left-brained for me right now.
This is something that I wanted to write about since I first had the notion that I needed to write a novel to avoid insanity, but because it’s (oh-so-loosely) based on something that happened “for real” in my life, I couldn’t figure out the right way to approach it without it seeming trite or maudlin. Once I figured out whose story I wanted to tell, the book opened up to me and wrote itself on my brain. I became impassioned by the realization that this story would never get told, there was no way anyone would ever tell it . . . unless it was me.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I would say that the main difference in this work is in who is telling this story. My heart did not want to let my main character tell this story, it rebelled against the idea, but my gut insisted on it and ultimately won. The heart is a fickle beast anyway. The main character in this novel should be an unsympathetic character. We should hate him immediately on page one. But instead, the reader is rooting for him and forgiving him and seeing bits of themselves in him.
Why do I write/create what I do?
Once upon a time, I was a weird kid who lived in my head. I was really comfortable there and things made sense. Now, I’m a weird adult who still enjoys quiet time alone with my thoughts. Writing is a way to get my head out there into the world. I hate having to think of things to say to actual people face-to-face, that’s really stressful for me. But with writing, I can think about it, change it, sleep on it, change it again, until it’s perfect (or good enough). That’s a special kind of freedom.
I wanted this novel to be about people. Not big, showy people, but everyday people grinding out their lives day after day. The things that interest me are not necessarily the things that interest a lot of folks. I’m fascinated by the ordinary, the base, the other side of the tracks. I drive slowly through the wrong parts of town, trying to soak it in. It seems to have such a different depth than my sterile, easy life. What do I even know about suffering, heartache? I want to write about those people. I almost want to pay tribute to them.
How does my creative process work?
Oh, wow, it’s not organized in the least.
Ideas come from everywhere. Someone will tell me about something that happened to them and I’ll use it, or someone will behave very badly and I’ll use it (I love this! I wish people behaved badly more often around me!), or I’ll have a dream and I’ll use it. I have hundreds of scraps of paper floating around town with lame ideas on them.
A lot of my plotting comes to me while I’m running or cycling, when my brain gets to that place where it is in total misery and shuts down, then I’ll figure out how to make a scene work and take the shortcut home across muddy fields in my shiny running shoes to write it because my fingers will be on fire. Exercise is a kind of meditation without the candles and trippy music.
And speaking of music, it is the backbone of my creative process. I get so much inspiration from music. It helps me with the feel of the novel more than anything, setting the tone. I couldn’t write without music. I’ll spend the morning listening to the same five songs over and over and over, and then crank out twenty pages. [Shout out to The Killers!]
I write everywhere: in my car while waiting for my kids to get done with sports, at my kitchen counter while waiting for coffee to finish brewing, on my couch, on the floor, in my bed, but never at a desk. I had to kill a character a few weeks ago and got up in the middle of the night after a thunderstorm and wrote it in the darkness of my living room . . . then passed out cold on the couch. It was disturbing and magical—the best of what writing should be.
I don’t know.
It works how it works.
Sometimes I read poetry.
Check out next week’s participant!
Emily P. DeLoach is an Indie author and blogger living in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Besides her first loves, reading and writing, she also enjoys making crafts with her children, traveling, going to the beach, and consuming massive quantities of coffee and oranges. Her first novel, Escaping the Mirror, was published in January 2014 and is available on Amazon. She can be found at www.emilypdeloach.com