30 Aug Writers’ Blog Tour – My turn!
First, a disclaimer: I am still suffering from Impostor Syndrome when I call myself a writer. I guess it comes from my lifelong deep respect for writers. Writers are my rock stars. To claim the title means I am a rock star. This still feels like a leap.
BUT!! The Wondrous Woo just got shortlisted for the 2014 Toronto Book Awards. It joins a list of books and writers that I adore. I have been ping-ponging back and forth between ecstatic and unbridled pride and joy to nail-biting, fetal-position fear since the announcement.
But never mind. Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain. The work speaks for itself, and I am thrilled by readers’ feedback. The ultimate pay-off for me as a writer is connection. I feel connected. I am a writer. Thank you!
What am I working on?
I’m working on a collection of interrelated short stories. Some of the stories are already well-formed while others are just an image, a line of words, or a gesture that I hope to develop. This book will take place in 70s Scarborough and revolves around a suicide cluster in one neighbourhood. (I’m not quite done with Scarborough yet!) This is a sampler of sorts. I am using this work to experiment with multiple points of view. So far, it’s been a lot of fun!
I just need more time. I work full-time, teach part-time and have a 7-year old. I often dream of having stretches of time dedicated to writing. When I have stayed away from it for too long, characters come out to haunt me, tugging at my sleeve, breathing down my neck! I am not sure how other writers make this balance, but I am trying to find a way to carve out that time and protect it as just something I must do.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write literary fiction. Besides from that, I rarely check if my writing is wandering into the space of other genres. The Wondrous Woo played with magical realism, and I imagine that in all my future work, I will have a tendency to wander down that road. If the work is effective, I believe it doesn’t matter that you break conventions. It works seamlessly when you gain the trust from your reader to suspend their prior understanding of how a story should be told. In other words, I don’t really know what it is that I do – I just do it. Other people can sort out the categories, genres, etc. later if they like.
Why do I write what I do?
I’m not too analytical about why I choose to write what I write. Sometimes, I’m not even really sure what it will be until a much later draft. I am mostly committed to following narrative. It’s usually just a provocative story idea that guides me. Of course, memories come to me as I write – places, people, situations that I have observed or lived. Scarborough has been very present in my work because I’m in a reflective moment – I am remembering the place where I grew up and finding a deeper understanding of how that space and time shaped me.
How does my writing process work?
My process goes back and forth between looking like a creative mess and a well-organized outline. As I’ve mentioned, I rarely know what I will write until much later in the process. I liken it to sculpting. I have the block of stone, and I will play with it for a long time, experimenting with the material, going with its natural contours while also manipulating it to make it something more than it is. It’s pretty organic. Then, when it starts resembling something interesting, I will then write outlines of what it could be before turning back to it and continuing the shaping. I love the writing process. It’s an act of pure instinct for me.