Writing Process ‘Blog Hop’

What am I working on now?

I am finishing the app which will accompany my forthcoming e-book The Ark. This has been a long, finicky and often frustrating process with a very steep learning curve and I have to confess I’m pretty weary of it at this stage. I am very excited about the finished product which all the work will lead to though, and I’m sure it will be worth it in the end.

theark-annabelsmith

I’m also writing the first draft of my fourth novel, the first in a trilogy, called Monkey See. It is a speculative twist on an epic quest in which a trio of unlikely heroes must overthrow a sadistic cult before a tsunami destroys their city. I am 60,000 words into this, mere inches from the end in fact, and am raring to get back to it once I’ve finished fiddling with The Ark app. It is by far the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book and I hope that energy will come through for readers.

How does my work differ from other works in its genre?

Well, I’m probably going to get SLAMMED for saying this, and I have my own reservations about the literary/genre divide, but I’m afraid to say that examples of novels which are speculative in theme (i.e. examining what MIGHT be, as opposed to what already is) and literary (in terms of the quality of their writing) are few and far between. I think my work ticks both of these boxes. [Now, just excuse me while I create a ‘hatemail’ folder to deal with the repercussions of that comment].

With regards to Monkey See, one of my main characters is a super-intelligent monkey and I think that’s pretty different.

Why do I write about what I do?

My therapist is probably best placed to answer this question but I’ll give it a crack. Like all humans, I have stuff that I need to process, ideas that, for whatever reason, my brain gets ‘stuck on’ and can’t resolve. And I think writing books is a way of working through those ideas. 

As this is all a bit vague, I will give you an example: When we left the UK to live in Australia, my dad and his brother had a falling out and didn’t speak for ten years. I was only a teenager and Dad’s family were far away so the issue wasn’t really front and centre, and it went on for so long that it became pretty ‘normal’, in the way that totally dysfunctional things sometimes do. Anyway, some time later, I found myself writing a novel about two brothers who are estranged – the book that became Whisky Charlie Foxtrot. I didn’t set out to write a book about that topic, but my subconscious led me there.

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How does my writing process work?

The phrasing of this question makes it sound so simple and easily explicable. If only… Anyway, here goes: I get an idea (see above). I sit at my desk and start typing whatever comes out in relation to that idea. I write each sentence until it’s as good as I can get it, then I go on to the next one. At the end of the paragraph/scene/chapter, I edit again from the top. When I’ve finished a whole draft I edit again. Then I send it to my super-trusted inner circle of beta-readers, who also happen to be writers. They give me feedback, which i initially resent and then later feel grateful for because I know it’s going to make my book much better. At this stage I procrastinate a lot, but eventually I knuckle down and make the changes. Then I send it to more beta-readers  (non-writers). More feedback, more changes.

That’s pretty much how I wrote my first three books. With the fourth book, once I comprehended the scale of the story I was trying to tell, and understood with both dread and excitement that i was writing a trilogy, I did have to do a bit of plotting, otherwise it would have just got too crazy, even for me. I used the eight-point story arc for this and it worked really well.

So that’s my writing process, in a nutshell, after which I begin the long rejection-filled journey to publication. But that’s another story…

This is a grown-ups version of a chain letter so in fear of something dreadful happening to me, I am passing the baton to:

Jane Rawson, author of the Aurealis shortlisted novel A Wrong Turn at the office of Unmade Lists

and

Ryan O’Neil, author of the short story collection The Weight of a Human Heart and easily the funniest person I follow on Twitter

Thanks to Lee Kofman and Kristen Levitzke for tagging me to take part in this chain. Lee wrote about editing her forthcoming memoir The Dangerous Bride and the importance of connecting with voice in her work which straddles multiple genres. Kristen wrote about how being a working mother has affected her writing routines, and taking a break from her novel to focus on short stories.

Your turn: Are any aspects of my process similar to yours? Do any strike you as completely odd? I’d love to hear about your process in the comments.

You might also like:

Six Degrees of Separation: The Bell Jar

Reading Round-Up: April 2014

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My Writing Process  Blog Hop    ANNABEL SMITH

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