I'm wearing a sweatshirt, leggings, socks with dogs on them, cowboy boots, and my Bichon Frisee SusieQ. No jewelry, no makeup. And I'm at work! I love my job! Except when I hate it, but that's another day, another blog. And to clarify, of course I'm not "wearing" my dog, but she's in my lap, where she often is when I write. I don't know why people ask me about what I wear when I write, but they do, so I thought you might like to know, too.
This week, I'm going to write about writing and writers, since that's what I know best. I'll blog about my writing process, including research (I'm Getting my Hair Done ? while I Work!), getting to know my characters, hearing their voices, and finding their stories. I'll talk about why writing feels like a form of prayer to me (sometimes) and what it has in common with stripping. Oh, and why I hate my job. And I'll try to answer the questions I usually get asked about writing when I'm at readings or dinner parties where not everyone else is a writer or... well, I don't get asked about writing in many other contexts. Except this question: "Are your novels fiction or non-fiction?" But this is Powell's (!), so I won't answer that one here. Maybe I'll also answer some of the questions I wish I would be asked, as well.
I'll start with the easy ones: I write mostly on a computer, but occasionally by hand if I don't have my computer with me or I just need a change of pace, in my pajamas or, in the summer, those little Victoria's Secret sundresses with the built-in bras, so I can be decent when answering the door. The cowboy boots are not a usual thing ? I almost always write barefooted ? but I'm going horse-back riding next week, so I just bought these boots on Ebay, thinking they might make me look like I know what I'm doing, which could backfire if they make me look like I'm trying to look like I know what I'm doing when it's clear to all that I don't, so did I really think the right shoes would help? (Short answer: yes, I believe in shoes.) Anyway, I'm trying to break them in. I know, sitting here writing isn't going to do that, but I get up a lot. I don't get email on the computer I write on ? the original thought was that I'd be more focused this way ? so I'm always going downstairs to check the other computer for email or let out the cats or anything but write. I try to write every day, first thing in the morning, and go until I feel like I'm just juggling commas, but that doesn't always work out, so no, I can't really say that I have a writing schedule. And no, I don't have any control over my book covers, though the people at Harcourt were nice enough to ask my opinion, and I love the hardcover and paperback covers of His Lovely Wife. (They're very different.) Yes, I sometimes write for magazines, mostly profiles of artists, designers, or homes for Southern Accents, which I love doing for many reasons, one of which is the high I get when I say, "I'm finished!" Novelists pretty much never get to say that because every time you finish, you know there will be one more round of revisions, and the last time, after the copy-editing, is anti-climactic. And no, I don't teach writing, except for the occasional writers' conference. I didn't go to a graduate writing program, but I did get a PhD in 20th-century American fiction, and I wrote my first novel in secret while I was also writing my dissertation on Hemingway's first book, In Our Time. I don't have anything against writing programs, but I think I could easily have been damaged by one because my process is all about listening to my characters' voices, and having professors' and other students' voices in my head while I was trying to listen to my characters would have been very difficult. Also, I work slowly, and it's fragile, so I could easily go for a semester's length of time where nothing I was working on was ready to show. (Maybe I do have a little something against writing programs, or at least the traditional stab-your-classmates-in-the-back ones.) And I'll just say it: I'm eager to please and easily hurt ? not a good combination for a student in a graduate writing program. Not really a good combination for much else, either!
Well, I hope you enjoyed this and that you'll keep stopping by this week. (See? Eager to please. If you didn't like it, please don't post that!) Tomorrow, I'm going to write about the conference I recently attended where 4,500 writers were gathered in one place, and why I'll never do that again!