My friend and colleague, Melanie Fishbane, invited me to be a part of a “My Writing Process” blog tour. I’ve been out of the blogging habit, so I’m thrilled to get a bit of a jumpstart! Thanks, Mel!
Melanie’s YA novel based on the teen life of L.M. Montgomery will be published under the Razorbill imprint in 2015. She has 17 years of experience in publishing, specializing in children’s and teen lit, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She loves talking about writing, books, old movies, classic women’s lit and anything that amuses her. Melanie blogs at http://melaniefishbane.wordpress.com/
Without further ado – here we go!
What are you working on?
I have a few projects that are incubating at the moment, taking their own sweet time to form:
A picture book about a boy who projects his desires (both good and bad) onto his stuffed animals… and then they act them out. (I am trying my hand at some drawing, too! New to me…)
An early reader about a misunderstood dog named Bud who lives with two supercilious cats.
A magical realism novel about a girl who draws birds that keep flying away…
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
What an odd question! As the late, exceptional Canadian writer Alistair MacLeod said, “Nobody has your literary fingerprints.” I believe that my work differs because it is my own. Give the same premise to five different people and you will get five vastly different stories… which is why I feel 100% ok with sharing the premises I have above.
What my characters think, feel, and do are of utmost concern at all times. And, since my characters are little random bits of me stuck together, with little bits of my own experiences, snippets of overheard conversations, and my understanding of the world combined, they are unique. Thus, the stories are unique.
But perhaps this question is more after style. I am enchanted with sound and rhythm, and I tend to write in a very close third person voice – that is how the characters come to me. I also tend to write emotionally detached characters who take their sweet time letting me know what’s going on with them! (Argh!)
Why do you write what you do?
I was moved recently by Amanda Palmer’s TED talk (“The Art of Asking”) in which she describes the beautiful exchanges she had with lonely people when she performed on the streets as “the Eight-Foot Bride.” She stood on a milk crate in a long white gown and handed flowers to passersby. Palmer said she had some profound encounters: through prolonged eye contact she communicated, “Thank you. I see you,” and the eyes of the stranger seemed to say, “Nobody ever sees me. Thank you.”
Writing for me is like giving out flowers. There is so much power in being seen – I write because I hope that readers feel seen when they connect with a character, situation, or emotion I have written about. The beauty is that when that happens, readers are also saying, “I see you,” back to me.
And the other part of this is that I write because I am always working things out. I am answering my own questions. I am learning. I am exploring. I write whatever comes to me because that’s what I need to do at that moment.
How does your writing process work?
Incubate, incubate, incubate.
Freewrite, freewrite, freewrite.
Put it all into scenes.
Recognize when what I have written is “not true” (i.e. I have overridden my characters!)
Delete. Delete. Delete.
Repeat until finished.
Then smooth and preen it.
I started my blog as a journal for my thoughts on mid-life stress – everything from careers to parenting to anxiety. In the process, I rediscovered my love of writing and the blog morphed a bit. It is now also my writing journal; a way to share the poetry and short fiction that blogging has re-inspired in me.
Stella Papadopoulos http://www.inspirationsbystella.blogspot.ca/
As a late bloomer, I’ve done many things late, marriage, children, art school, and writing picture books. My circuitous path of life has given me paintings and something to say. I’m passionate about creating art and hopefully one day writing for children.