Dan Berne tagged me in a writing process blog tour. I love Dan's debut novel, The Gods of Second Chances, which had me in knots for a week. I'm trying to imagine a more perfect summer read and am coming up empty. Go get it.
What am I working on?
My main project is my fourth novel, One Star, and it's in something like its second draft. I've been working on it for a year or two, and it will be at least another two before it will be ready for your eyes. I'm also finishing the screenplay version of my second novel Ghost Notes, and many other shorter things.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Rock novels seem to be attempted by two types. The first are rock fans. The second are rock musicians. The former group tends to write better ones, as the latter group I think tends to think novel writing is easier than it is and gives up at some point. My goal is to be both types of rock novelist at once, which is ideally what sets my work apart.
Why Do I Write What I Do?
The first time I read something that truly affected me was a short story by Katherine Anne Porter in a college English class. I can't remember the title, and I haven't been able to find it since. It was an extremely simple line--something about a female character jumping over a stream. I couldn't believe how deeply it struck me. My first thought was, "I didn't even know jumping over a stream made me feel that way, but now that I've read this description of it, I realize it totally does." It seemed a profound way of communicating from Katherine to me. I've pretty much spent the last three decades looking for more novels and stories I relate to as deeply, and trying to relay my own experiences in the same way as Ms. Porter.
How does my writing process work?
I usually start a novel with one surface idea. For my latest, Badge, it was a comment by my guitarist friend Bret Hartley that went something like: "I have to play this cover gig tonight when I'd rather be in my basement learning Jeff Beck licks." It sounded like the entire plight of the rock and roll sideman in one sentence. I started writing the novel that would become Badge the next morning. I write all my novels the same way: 500 words a day--no more no less--and I do that every morning until I have a completed first draft. Then I start at the beginning again. I'm kind of monkish about it. I don't remember the last morning I skipped my 500 words.
Next up on TAG! YOU'RE IT:
Everyone needs to check out Lost in Space by Ben Tanzer, which will break your heart whether you're a parent or not. I saw Ben read one of these stories in Seattle this past year and almost teared up. I said almost. Consider yourself Tanzered.
Also, James Greer's Everything Flows is unlike anything else you'll read. Surreal, with many sublime moments, and REM references to boot. Try it and tell me I'm wrong.