2. What makes your work different from others’ work in the same genre?
By genre, I guess we’re talking about blogging here, and Catholic blogging in particular. Here’s what I can discern:
- While I read the news, I try to avoid writing about it, unless it speaks to some personal sticking point of mine, so I’m rarely topical.
- I don’t write much about Church issues unless they approach my life in a more personal way; I don’t have a strong liturgical strain in my writing; I don’t acknowledge every feast day in a post.
- While I write about my kids a lot, I don’t publish the majority of it on my blog, unless I can do so in very general terms. Same with my husband. And he reads before I publish when it concerns him.
- I tend to write posts that have a beginning, a middle and an end. My posts are rarely short.
- I don’t feature a lot of photography, though sometimes I do share pictures.
- Everything is about faith for me, really, and faith as it relates to my life, my trials, my interests, and how to communicate those things in the written word, so I’m really pretty narrow in scope.
So let’s see: long-winded, narrow scope, dull to look at, off topic… I hereby salute any reader who’s made it to the end of one of my posts.
3. Why do you write what you do?
Because I love it. I love to write, and I love my faith. I love how my faith gives meaning and structure to my life. I try also to love everything I write. If I myself cannot bear to read what I’ve written, I won’t subject anyone else to it either. That said, I don’t expect anyone else to love what I write. And often, I don’t love things I’ve written when I come back to them from a different point of view.
Sometimes I write what I think I “should” write without loving it, and the outcome is always a dead letter.
I love blogging as a medium and platform. I think it suits the writing I’m naturally prone to doing, and I feel gratified to be born in a time when having a blog is a free, easy, and somewhat socially acceptable thing to do.
4. How does your writing process work?
Some aspects of my “process” are constant, and some are not. I always use a pilot precise V5 extra fine rolling ball pen in black ink when I’m writing on paper. No variable there. I don’t write in any journal or notebook that would require me to use the word “moleskine.” I used to buy Roaring Spring graph-lined notebooks in bulk, but I’ve been trying to write less small for the future me with bad eyesight.
When I’m being good, I write on paper for thirty minutes a day–minimum– and this is part of my morning routine of getting dressed, praying, eating, brushing my teeth, and doing hygienic things that must be done for my personal well-being. Most of this writing will not see a second pair of eyes, but it keeps the pipes clean so better words can flow later.
If something good comes out of this exercise, I open a page on my laptop and type it up. I keep a page or two open on my laptop throughout the day, and type thoughts as they come–often in a drive-by manner on my way to doing something else. At this point, nothing is forbidden, even if no cohesive thread ties all the thoughts together.
I rarely, almost never, write a whole post start to finish in one sitting.
For every three pages I open on my desktop, approximately one makes it to a completed post. Some get combined, some get retired, some relegated to the “unfinished business” folder. I think of this part as gathering and dividing the threads I need to weave full cloth. It doesn’t always happen at the computer.
I go to the unfinished business folder when the well has run dry, and look to see if I’ve shelved anything interesting. Sometimes I have new insight on an old dilemma. Sometimes things I thought were stupid sound ok under different circumstances–and I’ll salvage a paragraph or two.
I edit after the kids go to bed for increased concentration. If a post still reads good to me in the morning, I light it up.
I don’t claim to be a fiction writer, but once a year or so I dip into it, and that process is entirely different, very intensive, and I definitely do sit down to it for long periods of time throughout the day. I’m terrible at it.
A few writing laws I always obey:
If I’m writing about a personal problem, dilemma, weakness, mishap, or stupid thing I did or thought–I always wait to publish until the moment has past, I’ve figured myself out, and all the emotions associated with the problem have dissipated. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes a few minutes.
I never, ever publish under the influence of rage or confusion. Sometimes I let a thing written in the moment stand for publication–but only when I can view it objectively as an editor, even if it doesn’t read objectively.
If I’m tempted to write about someone else’s problem, dilemma, weakness, mishap or stupid thing they did or said, I overcome the temptation. Failing that, I get permission to write it from the person in question. Failing that, I disguise the person beyond recognition.
I’ve broken these laws in the past, and it never ends well for anyone.
I hereby tag the husband and wife team at Darwin Catholic to answer the same questions I have just completed. If you are meeting their blog for the first time, it’s helpful to know that “Mr. Darwin” has a very large basket of interests, and writes about all of them intermittently with wry insight and refreshing common sense. “Mrs. Darwin” provides charming updates from the home front, and every now and then, stays up late drinking bourbon and writing novels just for fun.
I’ve also extended the meme to my fellow writers here at Patheos, and Will Duquette at Cry Woof, and Kathy Schiffer at Seasons of Grace have both graciously accepted the challenge. Kathy knows everyone in the world, and always has the scoop on matters of interest to the Church. And Will, as he will gladly attest himself, is delightfully weird while remaining quietly thoughtful.
It’s been fun! Thanks for bearing with me.