Many thanks to Kim Haas Savage for inviting me to the #WritingProcessBlogTour, where writers answer questions about their writing process. Kim is a wicked wit and the author of AFTER THE WOODS and CELLOPHANE, a YA psychological thriller, forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan.
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
I’m working on CRANKCASE, the story of a detective in western Ohio who has just arrested his high-school-aged cousin for murdering his girlfriend. Caught between a police department that thinks he’s doing too much and an extended Greek family that feels he’s not doing enough, Constantin Pappas must figure out where his loyalties lie–with his job, with his family, or with himself.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
If the genre is ‘literary fiction,’ my work feels story-driven. If the genre is ‘commercial page-turners,’ it feels introspective and craftworky. If the genre is ‘in-between books’ of the sort written by Dawn Tripp and Dennis Lehane, then my work is right up the middle.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
I love good stories, I love books that move, I love language, I love poetry, I love books that have deep thematic resonances that return and return like a canticle, singing of something below the surface.
As a reader, I love those books and the way they make me feel. As a writer, I just want to make the same magic, because it’s wonderful.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
I generally have a quick vision, a video snapshot of a scene in progress, and then naively attempt to write the whole book. I churn out tons of pages and realize I’ve made a mess of things, then extract some structure from the mess. It’s a bit like reconstructive archaeology, figuring out which bits in the bucket are bone and which are stone. What’s part of the dinosaur? What’s a distraction? Then I build an outline and rewrite the whole thing. Sometimes that happens multiple times.
Lastly, it can’t sing until it’s been spoken. Everything has to be read aloud to earn the word ‘done.’
Kara Waite, a Boston-based writer of fiction, nonfiction, and just enough poetry to keep things interesting. Her novel, LOVE IS OUR POISON, is complete and ready for editors’ eyes.
Matthew Ferrence is the author of one book of cultural criticism, All-American Redneck: Variations on an Icon, from James Fenimore Cooper to the Dixie Chicks (U Tennessee Press, 2014), and numerous pieces of creative nonfiction. Recent essays has appear in Creative Nonfiction, Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, and Cutbank. He teaches creative writing and environmental literature at Allegheny College.