I’ve been tagged for The Writing Process Blog Tour by John King. John hosts the writing podcast The Drunken Odyssey and I’ve written elsewhere about what the show and its mercurial host have meant to my writing life. I am now tasked to answer questions about my writing process and then tag three other writers to do the same. More on that below.
What are you working on?
I’m working on:
1) cartoons—series and shorts
2) Ghoulanoids—a comic with toys
3) another comic book
4) a poetry collection or chapbook(s)
5) Little Billboards
Derek Ballard and I have built a backlog of possible animated material, but haven’t sold anything yet. If we do and someone trusts us, we’ve got some good, interesting ideas for shorts and series that I would love to see happen. Honestly, the two of us could write cartoons for the rest of our lives if someone would let us.
Ghoulanoids will be a comic packaged with toys and published by Sacred Prism this fall. We’re early in the process, but our inspiration is most obviously from ‘80s toy lines and films like Critters and Phantasm. We hope to do something unique and fun with those flavors. That “we” is Daniel and Derek Ballard and me. I know the creators and the publisher are excited, I hope our readers will be. Did I mention that Daniel makes puppets and works with Heather Henson sometimes? Yeah, of THAT Henson family. Did I mention that Derek has his own comic book series and works on Adventure Time?
Rumor has it that a peek at the cover may happen soon.
I’m not sure how much I can say about the other comic book project except it will be 24 pages and also include a toy. A draft of the story has been written, but we need to revisit it before continuing with the project, in part because it was originally a cartoon script that got accepted for publication. We need to rethink some of the ideas.
One summer, not long from now, I will have some extra pocket change and will begin submitting my poetry manuscript(s) to contests. This is generally how things work in the poetry world. I simply haven’t had the coin to send these out.
Little Billboards is a project I do for Eunoia Solstice. It began as contemporary haiku and has slowly evolved into a haiku/found poetry/humument hybrid. This project forces me to think and work in new ways and that is why I keep moving forward with it. It started with more traditional haiku and morphed into seventeen syllable humuments and now it just is what it is. I think I’m still working in the same spirit in which I started the project, I’m just letting it organically become what it is.
There are other projects in states of array and disarray. I’ve co-written a children’s book that we are almost ready to shop around to agents. We’ve worked on the manuscript for several years, so it’s not like we’re just tossing something out there. We’ve taken it as seriously as anything we’ve ever written. I’ve written a script for a comic that is associated with a TV show in which one of two major companies have given it the ok. Waiting to hear on the second. At the end of the month, I’ll find out if I’ll be working on the rebirth of an old toy line via comic book. I’ve written a treatment for a film that was optioned and then turned down, but might still be made. The script is partially done. I’ve also committed to an anthology film and have done editing and revising work on the screenplay.
How does this work differ from others of its genre?
I could either say it’s different because I’m working on it, and I work from equal parts Dickinson and King, Henson and Beckett, but, it’s probably better left for others to interpret how it’s different or not. The critic part of my brain—“Little Hitler” as I call it—can be tremendously cruel, so I try not to inflict it on myself until I get enough work done so I don’t totally crush my soul.
It’s very easy to dissuade oneself from doing this work or denigrate it before it even has a chance to breathe or be good in any way.
Why do you write what you do?
I wish I had the answer. I can’t not do it. I’ve been writing since high school for pleasure or for publication or both. I either write from images that possess me or I write in collaborations with artists I like and are willing to work with me. I recently found an Italo Calvino quote that finally said what I’ve been trying to say for years: “I start with a small, single image and then I enlarge it.” It all starts from being haunted, in a way, by images.
How does your writing process work?
John’s answer is so good and true to my experience you should read that.
During the summer, I can organize an hour or two at the beginning or ending of each day, but during school I just have to grab the time when I can, which means when the kids actually take naps. I wrote part of this laying across the front seat of my car in the parking lot of the library. The library was closed. I didn’t know that, but I didn’t want to waste my writing time. I live in Alabama, so it wasn’t the most comfortable writing station. (It’s summertime, dingus!) You got to do what you got to do.
Ideally, I write or mentally work through an idea or image every day.
I write one or two drafts on paper, then I do a typed version, sometimes from scratch. I may type another using all of my rough drafts. Then I print a copy and mercilessly cut toward the goals of the piece. I love cutting 800 words to 500. Depending on deadlines, I will go through that process for a few days. For me, it’s normal to write more than ten pages for a piece that ends up three or five pages.
Maybe it’s because I enjoy collaborations, but the few times I’ve been able to work with passionate and dedicated editors, I’ve had extremely positive experiences. They’ve made my work better.
Of course, we’ve all suffered from the castigations of overworked and inconsiderate editors. Sometimes they just don’t get it, and that’s ok. If the piece is good, it will find a place. It takes time.
If you are a writer and want to participate in this blog tour, send me a message or leave a comment. Everyone I contacted had either already done this, was blogless, or wasn’t interested.
I like red peppers and Jan Švankmajer movies.
1. Current Listening: Lots of soul from Muscle Shoals
2. Current Viewing: A Hard Day's Night (1964).
3. Current Reading: H.G. Wells: In the Days of the Comet