My good friend and crit group companion Russ Linton hit me up for this “blog tour” dealie, which is sort of the blog version of a chain letter, but it’s also a chance for bloggers to interact with one another. The idea is that he tags two people to answer the same questions, and we in turn tag others, etc. Since I only halfass blog and don’t pay a lot of attention to the blogging world, I don’t really know anyone to tag, but I can still answer the questions.
Q : What am I working on at the moment?
A : Making a blog post. Next question!
But really, my long-progress work is Rise of the Righteous Mantis, a YA wuxia (that’s basically “fantasy”). It occupies most of my time, but in addition to that I still write a poem a day, and I’d really like to get back to editing my adult magical realism novel, Dreaming Vicariously.
Q : How does my work differ from others of its genre?
A : Well, Righteous Mantis is a blend of eastern and western storytelling. We (my writing partner and I) have had to break with certain conventions on both sides, and I think that alone makes it pretty different. For example, there isn’t a lot of wuxia with a female main character (for thousands of years, women have been second-class citizens in China), and we wanted to hit on some feminist issues that cross cultures. She’s the fighter, her male love interest is a doctor, so we’ve turned the traditional “male fighter, female healer” trope on its head too. Aside from that, there isn’t a lot of wuxia being written specifically for English-speaking / reading audiences – most of it comes from Chinese translations, though I hear there are a couple of wuxia authors who write in English. Honestly it only falls within the YA category because YA has become so broad that it basically lays claim to anything where the main character falls within its age range. If I had my way I’d just say we’re writing “westernized wuxia” or “fantasy.”
Q : Why do I write what I do?
A : That’s sort of a vague question. Laurie, my writing partner for Righteous Mantis, invited me to collaborate with her on a wuxia short story, which then became a novel. Ever since seeing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I’ve always wanted to write a wuxia, so I accepted. A few hours in I came up with most of the plot points and characters, so I guess it opened some sort of creative well, and I can’t bring myself to turn away from that sort of thing.
In a broader sense, I think I’m happiest when I’m writing or plotting. I once wrote a novel in 16 days and it was the most empowering, positive, fascinating experience in my life. It was terrible (well, sort of), but it happened.
As for the daily poetry I write, some of it is little more than the harshest self-criticism I can throw at myself crammed into a vaguely poetic form. I think the real reason I set out to write it is the theory that out of 365 poems a year, at least one has to not totally suck, but 4 years later, I’ve found that’s not necessarily the case.
Q : How does my writing process work?
A : It’s different for different things. I’m a big fan of the “just go and work out details later” method, and it shows sometimes. In my book (literally), the first draft / plotting is done on intuition, then the second draft is where you put your head in and connect it with logic. There have been many days when I’d show up at whatever writing venue I’d chosen and have zero idea of what to write that day, but 2000 words and a few hours later, I’d have a pretty decent section. Editing isn’t just about fixing typos and tightening the language – it’s a lot more about knowing the arc of your story, building bridges for the reader, and putting in the detail you missed on the first go.
Through all of this I’m generally taking it into my weekly crit group, who then tells me what’s crap and what’s not, and usually how to fix it.
Let me add that collaboration hasn’t really changed this. For the most part, I’ve written the first draft and Laurie has been running along behind me doing her thing. There are times when I have to stop and explain my vision on something, and since she knows wuxia and Chinese history and culture better than I do, she’ll give me a context and I’ll have to change what I was doing, but the shape of the story as a whole hasn’t gone through substantive changes.
Alrighty, as I said up front, I don’t know a lot of bloggers outside of my crit group, but if you’d like me to list you as a tag, let me know. Also, go check out Russ’s blog and work. He’s a lot better about keeping his blog updated, and he’s nearing the release date for his superhero novel, “Crimson Son.”