Sunday, April 10, 2016

Year of Yes and My Writing Process


Some of my fave nonfiction books

I used to pore over the greats' blogs--Neil Gaiman, Meg Wolitzer, Lois McMaster Bujold--reading about their writing processes and hoping to snag a secret-to-success to chew on. Like wisdom jerky. I wondered does [famous author] suck down a  64 oz of diet Coke while pounding away at the keyboard? Does he write in tiny notebooks in bed or type on a Mac on the couch? Does she wear lucky heels or use a fountain pen owned by Hemingway? I hoped their geniuses were transferable, that by reading HOW they conducted their writing sessions I would be able to adapt their methods and become a great too. I learned some interesting things. Lois likes to think of the worst possible things that can be done to her characters and then she MAKES THEM HAPPEN. Neil suggests that if you don't feel like you can do something, fake it. Pretend. And Meg hangs the banner, "If not now, when?" I found these bits to be helpful, but the other stuff--shoes, pens, operating systems--usually weren't mentioned or didn't apply to me. At all. Such as Neil Gaiman's glassed off woodland gazebo/writing room. Who can afford that except The Neil Gaiman? I can barely afford to pay a guy to kill the dandelions in my yard.

You can imagine how strange it felt when Superstition Review asked ME about MY writing process. I've been published, don't get me wrong. I've written over a 160 articles for the local daily, and I've recently published five essays in several literary journals. There's the stuff I did during my undergrad. I'm nearly finished with my MFA in Creative Nonfiction, and I've written not one but TWO memoirs. Long ones. Like 65,000+ words. I put in the time. I stare at the screen and chew my gum. I have a process. But no one had ever asked me what it was. Until last month.

It felt a little like graduation.

I resisted the urge to ask "Why me?" and, instead, I owned it. I celebrated. And I took Shonda Rhimes's advice in Year of Yes.

"I'm going to say YES to accepting any and all acknowledgments of personal fabulous awesomeness with a clear, calm "Thank you" and a confident smile and nothing more" (179). 

Thank you, SR, and to anyone who views the vodcast. [Insert confident smile here.]

Here's a link:

Here's a link to the essay I published in SR and the recording:

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