I was surprised, delighted, and flattered when Jamie Krug from Our Stroke of Luck
asked me to participate in a blog tour about a writer’s process. I first met Jamie, both online and soon thereafter in person, last summer, and I’ve loved getting to know her world through her thoughtful, thought-provoking, and lucid writing. I can’t wait to read her book.
Without further ado, I’m happy to answer questions about my writing process. (disclosure: writing about my ‘writing process’ feels uncomfortable, even artificial, since I don’t really consider myself a writer at all).
What am I working on?
Mostly, on this blog. I have over the last several years worked on a couple of book-length projects, both memoirs, and for various reasons have abandoned them both. One memoir was tentatively titled A Country Without Maps and focused on what it felt like for someone who had always navigated her life according to externally-validated achievement and the next hardest thing to come to a place in the road where there was no next thing. It was about learning to hear my own internal voice and figuring out what I really actually wanted. It was about learning to live right now, instead of someday. The second memoir was titled Wonder Girls and was about parenting a tween. It was an intimate look at the process of letting go that begins, of course, when we have our children and which ramps up steeply in adolescence.
I have also written about half of a novel, to which I return sporadically. The novel has a title too but I’m keeping that one close to the vest. I can’t get the characters of that novel out of my head, even years after beginning it, which I suspect means I should give them more time.
From time to time I write essays, and I love that form. Most of all, I’m hugely, eternally indebted to my indefatigable, brilliant, and patient agent, Brettne Bloom
, for all of her support, wisdom, and advice. Someday, I promise to make you proud!
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Truthfully? I’m not sure it does. There are so many writers out there whose work routinely brings me to both tears and laughter, who tug at the very essence of who I am and want to be, and who make me feel less alone. All of these writers are inspirations to me, and it is my devout wish to write even a fraction as well as they do.
Why do I write what I do?
The reason I began this blog, and started writing in earnest again at all, is still the reason I write: so I don’t miss my life. When I started write down the minute details of life with small children at home I realized that doing so allowed me to plumb, probe, and observe so much beauty. It was as though in holding up a small fragment of a day I noticed the glimmer of its facets for the first time. It’s a practice I couldn’t stop now even if I wanted to.
I write, therefore, to record, to capture, and to honor, but I also write to understand. Didion said “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking,” and that is true for me. The truth is I often sit down at the page – the screen – without really knowing what I am going to say, and when the words flow I begin to explore what it is that I can learn from my experience.
How does your writing process work?
I wrote about a typical day in my life, including my writing, for Cynthia Newberry Martin’s wonderful How We Spend Our Days
series. I work full time and have two very time- and space-filling children at home, so my writing takes place around the edges of the rest of my life. I write in gaps in my day if I can, and I often write at night after the children have gone to bed. I am certain I would benefit enormously from a more formal process.
Next week, I’m happy to say that two of my very favorite writers, both of whom I’m privileged to call friends, will be sharing details of their process.
Pamela Hunt Cloyd
writes at Walking On My Hands
. She doesn’t write that often, but every single time she does I read every single word. She often makes me both cry and nod my head in ferocious identification. She has two boys, ages 5 and 8, and writes about being a Navy wife, a yoga instructor, a mother, and a human being struggling to inhabit her own life with grace.
writes about “finding the soft edges in a razor sharp world.” She has three daughters, ages 5, 7, and 9, and writes often motherhood, nostalgia, and the particular joys and challenges of raising girls. Amanda describes and evokes the bittersweet pain in parenting in a way that is almost uncomfortably familiar.
I can’t wait to read Pamela and Amanda’s answers to these questions!