Dominic Ambrose Blogblot

of words: narrative, film and non-fiction

A writing process

Writing is a process – methodical, precise, logical, but it is also an art, chaotic, impressionistic, and totally illogical.  So it seems futile to try to explain it. However, it is fun to try to do that, and it is even more fun to read how others describe their own writing processes. Here I go:

1. What am I working on?

Right now I am putting together a visual book. It will have chapters that consist of photos, with little explanations for each picture that together will create a narrative. I haven’t done anything like this before, but have been thinking about it for a long time. Sort of a graphic novel or foto-romanzo. It will take time and a few experiments. I have just finished putting together a purely photographic book, consisting of photos of Uzbekistan with short captions after each photo. No narrative, just images. I want to see how satisfying this will be as a book. I want to feel the book, turn the pages, experience it, to see how it will work with a more complex project. The Uzbekistan book will be my next publication, and it will hopefully be the first of several that will be primarily visual. I am also a photographer and would like to be able to integrate both the literary and visual arts into one project. Wish me luck!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I like to think that my settings are unique. Of course, I have not discovered anyplace new that no one has ever been to before, but my characters and their times and places are a special combination, and reflect my interest in the clash and blending of cultures. I like my novels to be full of interesting characters in unusual predicaments, so that no matter how readers feel about the story itself, they will feel that they have become introduced to a memorable character and stepped into a world that they have not been in before. My novel The Shriek and the Rattle of Trains takes place among American ex-pats in Romania and my other novel, Nickel Fare, is set in Brooklyn and Staten Island among hippies and gay people in the early 1970s. I write about it so that you don’t have to live it!

3. Why do I write what I do?

Hmmm. Because I have to. I think this is true about all writers. We have to write, because it somehow completes us. It’s the scratch for our itch. And it has to be about something we believe in or else what’s the point?  I love the feeling I get when writing, as though I am living vicariously through my characters. That is probably why so many writers don’t seem to mind living in isolation in a farmhouse in Connecticut or Washington State, they find the company they need in their characters. No, that doesn’t sound so great, but then again, nobody said that writers are the most socially adjusted people on earth. But besides that, there is a satisfaction about completing a story that is incomparable to any other feeling of accomplishment I have ever had. To create life and human complexity out of words is a wonderful feeling.

4. How does my writing process work?

I notice that Mark McNease says that he writes everyday at a certain time, for a set amount of time. How I admire people like that! I can only say that my own process is far more serendipitous than that. I don’t write everyday, though I would like to. Writing daily forces you to stay immersed in a literary language, and involved in the lives of your characters. I don’t do that, though. I often have to take weeks or even months off from writing when other duties and interests take over. (like right now, as I work on my Uzbeki photo project). It causes some problem for me in terms of momentum and consistency, but i like to think that there are advantages to this, as well. When I return to a piece after a long period of time, I can see it with a fresh eye, as an outsider rather than an insider. Often this helps me to work out awkwardness in the plot, or bits of dialog that are not quite clear enough. I am an ambitious reviser, and my stories go through countless re-edits and revisions before they are finished. This would be more difficult if I were  involved with them daily. So, I guess that every writer has his or her own process, the one that is most suited to get the desired results. I love authors!

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July 7, 2014 Posted by | writing | , | Leave a comment