I’ve been connected into the latest blog hop by the always-awesome George Ivanoff, which means I have some questions to answer as a writer.
So without any more preamble, I’ll jump right in.
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What are you working on at the moment?
I tend to have a couple of short stories in progress at once. At the moment the current projects include an awkward romance that begins in the abandoned Argus Building in Melbourne, and a longer piece that will start with a domestic break-in and go in a completely unexpected direction.
Behind all that I’ve been tinkering with the rough edges of my first complete and marketable manuscript draft. (This is a big deal for me – I’ve usually only pulled off one or the other.)
How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?
Aside from the fact that a writer’s voice is always going to be a one-of-a-kind fingerprint, I’m not sure if there’s anything specific I could point towards. I keep my writing as varied as possible – I’m terrified of falling into a rut or looking back over the past x stories to find they all sound the same or talk about the same things. I dip my toe into genre, but never long enough to settle into any one medium – which is both a positive and negative quality.
Why do you write what you write?
I bounce around topics with each new story – I move towards what I’m interested in. For the in-progress pieces above, my points of interest are clear for me; in the Argus-based story it’s an interest in modern ruins and abandoned buildings, and in the latter piece it’s going to be an exploration into identity in the modern age. Everything I write contains my own attempt to learn about or understand something – or maybe just explore it for kicks.
What’s your writing process, and how does it work?
My fetish is whiteboards. I have a big one set up above my computer, and an A4-size board I can carry around the house. I bounce the idea around in my head for a little while and then I attack one of the whiteboards to get the bits and pieces down.
After that I normally write the first draft out in fits and starts – surge through one section, let that simmer and then attack the next section.
That’s the process for each short story, at least. With my attempts at longer stories or novel-length pieces it’s a lot more trial and error – not so much a ‘process’ as an ‘oh-dear-god-I-hope-this-works’.
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So how am I going to follow on from that exercise?
Well, what I follow on to might have something to do with what today is. It’s a special day, if a somewhat sombre one. If you’re reading this post on the day it’s gone live, then you are witness to the final hours of page seventeen’s 2014 window for submissions. General submissions, competitions, the whole caboodle – it ends as of midnight, 30 June.
If you have submitted, thank you for taking part in page seventeen‘s voyage this year. For those still on the sidelines but caught wondering about the time still left before the ship drifts past the horizon … there’s still a chance to submit, isn’t there? There’s still plenty of breath left in that last hurrah, if you decide to go for it. I’d encourage you to, if only because of how empowering the simple act of submitting can be.
But how do you know that the piece you’re considering submitting is going to make the grade?
Well, that’s just it. You don’t know. I don’t know. Not even Google knows – although it’ll try to give you an answer regardless.
What’s important is that, as a writer, you know yourself and your motivations.
There’s a balancing act here. Never considering the sorts of questions I answered above could lead to a directionless pursuit of consistency and growth. Considering them too much is the kind of paralytic naval-gazing that can get you into trouble as a normally-functioning human being. Neither extreme is fun.
But a writer that decides to share their work with others should know a little bit about themselves. If not the finer details of their own writing process, then at least about what excites them. What draws them in. What made them decide that writing is a worthy hobby, pastime or career. It’s always been the case that the better you know yourself, the more you can get out of your work.
You might feel rushed if you decide to make your latest work submission-ready for page seventeen within the few remaining hours. But if you know your own work inside-out, then it’s possible. You’ll know that it’s ready. You’ll know to take pride in it. You’ll know it’s ready for the voyage.
And if not? Well, there are other opportunities – and you might always look out for page seventeen re-opening its submissions in 2015. One voyage ends, but another is always ready to begin.
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Part of the blog hop itinerary is that I connect this to three other blogs as a way of passing it on. But can I deviate from that slightly? Of course I can. Put those handcuffs away, it’s not a crime.
I want to ask every reader of this blog post that is a writer themselves to think about those questions. Do it immediately, so you don’t have too much time to consider the answer. Spend a moment, if you never have before, considering how your writing process works. What motivates you to write about certain subject matter. What sets you apart from other writers – or how you could nudge your style just a little further in a certain direction to give you a striking point of difference.
If you’re a writer and you have a blog, consider this one of those ‘why not?’ moments and have a go at the questions. You might learn something about yourself and your own nature as a writer – and anything that contributes to your own development will immediately flow on to your work.
Beau Hillier | Editor, page seventeen
P.S. A big thank you once again to all the contributors to this year’s general and competition opportunities from page seventeen. It’s great to see so much of a variety of work from so many enthusiastic authors, poets and photographers. It gives me more hope than ever for the future – and all the other voyages page seventeen has yet to take.