9/15/14

My writing process: Hint it involves zombies

What are you working on?
How does your work differ from others in your genre?
Why do you write what you do?
How does your writing process work?

Desiree Zamorano, who blogs at The Restless Chef and who is the author of the novel The Amado Women, tagged me with these writerly questions, and since I do whatever the fabulous Desiree asks, I will answer them now.

What are you working on?
I am currently working on staying sane until I go back to work next week. Too-long breaks make me neurotic, especially when most of my time is spent making sure each of my teenagers feels EQUALLY aggrieved. Oh, Wait! This is supposed to be about what I'm writing! I get it.

I'm working on the second of three book series. Part one is resting until I can approach my third draft with cold-hearted detachment. Part one is called Optimized, and part two is called Optimystic. The series is about a high school slacker who begins to investigate a group of peers who are involved in the clinical trial of a new medication. The medication makes people Einstein-smart but, alas, also  makes them look and act like zombies. The question is: just how far zombie have they gone?

How does your work differ from others in your genre?
I like to flirt with the line of reality. What is real? What could be real? How do we know the difference? Also, I like that my characters don't live segmented lives. For example, my girl Mia can investigate the maybe-zombies all she wants, but she still has to worry about how she will get into the college of her choice.

Why do you write what you write?
I always start from a place of curiosity. What questions or issues can I not stop thinking about? Whatever they are, that's what I need to explore through writing. In the case of Optimized, the questions that really got me going were: Why are we so obsessed with winning and with categorizing people and institutions into winners and losers? How far zombie would a person be willing to go (or might a parent push them to go) to get into the college of his or her choice?

How does your writing process work?
Writing is hard. Revising is fun. With that in mind, I try to be very disciplined. 1000 words a day, five days a week: That is my goal. I start by re-reading/editing the work I did the day before. That tends to get my juices going. Then I plod along and I write those 1000 words, no matter how horrible they are--and they are usually horrible. When I'm about half way done with a draft I will usually go back to the beginning and make a lot changes because by then I'll have a better sense of what needs to happen or what kind of actions or way of speaking is authentic for a character. Then, after I do that, I plod through the second half. Then I revise the whole thing, which I enjoy. Then I get people to read it. Then I revise. I do that until I'm sick of the thing and can do it no longer.

Okay. Your turn. I'd love to hear all about your writing process, either in the comments or on your blog. Go!

PS: The photo is of my lovely workstation. It's looking pretty organized--that's should be your first clue that I am in a worrisome neurotic stage!



10 comments:

Desiree said...

You are SUCH an achiever--
WOW 1000 words a day!!! Viva!!
Ooops, I forgot to prompt you--tag 3 other authors.
My bad.

Cathy Perlmutter said...

Love the insights into your process.

Heather said...

I wish my workstation looked that good!

Kim Stcharles said...

I envy your workstation! I'm trying to remember how to hook it all up again after being dismantled since April. On the positive side, my keyboard has never been cleaner, thanks to my new Dyson. No evidence of snacking while typing ;-)

Ms M said...

I enjoyed reading about your writing process. (And your workstation looks MUCH neater than mine.)

Olga Hebert said...

You sound like a professional! My writing process is all about sharpening pencils and playing with fonts and looking things up for research that leads me to online shopping sites. And once in a while I write something, but usually I throw it away afterwards.

Daisy said...

My goodness, your Apple is polished and neat! I MUST clean up my desk - especially now that I'm inspired!

Thank you for the insight into your writing. I'm wondering if I even KNOW a 1,000 words! :-)

Petrea Burchard said...

Very nice workstation, Margaret. No wonder you're an achiever.

Kim, what's a Dyson? I want a clean keyboard.

Pasadena Adjacent said...


Designing is hard. Revising is harder"

Cafe Pasadena said...

In what way, if any, do u use your IPads in your writing process?