A few weeks ago, I was asked by a fellow writer to detail my process of writing. First of all, thank you Michael Paul (Billy Tabbs & The Glorious Darrow) for inviting me to do this blog tour. It’s an honor even being asked to talk about my writing process, which has currently halted. It’s both a chance to learn from other writers and kickstart/restart the process as I get time away from my day job to devote to writing.
So, why do I write?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself since I started writing. I guess the most honest answer to this question is because sometimes it is enjoyable and sometimes it makes me feel like more than I am. I enjoy being creative and writing has always been of strength of mine.
But I write for a deeper reason. I’m searching for something. Sometimes I can taste it when the writing writes itself.
I write for these “moments”. Moments when the words disappear and regardless of what I’m writing, I perceive a depth, a chasm, that opens up in what I’ve written. And out of this depth, a realization, something unsaid, is understood by both the characters and the reader. That what they’re reading is a facet of the human condition, of life. The human condition in its most purest form is witnessed. It diminishes when it is put to words in a thesis on an essay. My essays are observations by the reader and writer, translated only into understanding and emotion. It’s the best type of pathos.
I write for those real moments, those enlightening moments, those discovered moments. When you understand something more than what is just written.
1. What are you working on?
I’m currently working on a novel called The Cleaner. It’s a crime drama set in Brampton.
It’s a story about a forty something hitman who cleans up crime scenes for the mob. The Cleaner has a code: never ask questions, never get involved. He tries to instill this code on to his young protege.
This is the story of that code breaking.
The story has morphed a lot since I started it in 2012. It was a bare bones crime noir with short chapters and very little exposition, my aim being to have the readers learn about the characters purely in the moment. I’ve been working currently on finding a balance between how much exposition I want to put and how much we’re in the scene.
I’m also working on an album of music.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I don’t like being judged based on my genre. But the reality is, it’s impossible for any writer not to be judged by their genre until they transcend it and write some classic that teachers force you to read in high schools, ones that you can get an essay out of it.
Without picking a genre, here’s what I like to write about: criminals, gangsters, average Joes, regular people, families… complex characters that aren’t so easily likeable, all going through a crisis or personal conflict, not so easily sympathetic with their choices, forced into critical and dramatic situations where the outcomes aren’t usually clear cut and moral and obvious, and the most important thing to take in is not a logic in the construction of the plot and events but the feeling of the situation the characters are in and the realization that realism is just a way to make sense of the world, that unexplainable things happen and that the action happens more so due to illogical character motivations than anything else with the function of the main internal con-…
You know what. Fuck it. I’m a crime writer. My work differs only in that now I’m writing the words. If it is different, you be the judge.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I write what I want to read. I read what I want to write. I’m a writer with literary ambitions but also one who would throw the literary out the window for a guilty pleasure action sequence involving witty wiseguys and humorous situations.
I’m like a pizza that’s trying to be gourmet Italian cuisine. Every so often you’ll taste the rich tomato sauce under the cheese that’ll remind you of the best of literary classics… but then you’ll taste the pepperonis and its back to instant gratification and drivebys for the sake of drivebys.
4. How does your writing process work?
Writing is an act of creation. We take that as a given. But I believe a creator must be comfortable with destruction. A writer that creates must also destroy, destroy the words he writes that are unnecessary, destroy the monotony when the story slows down, destroy the characters to get the vapor of pathos out of their cracked skulls, destroy the process to reach a conclusion and move on. Stories end when the writer chooses to destroy the routine of writing.
For me, destruction is essential to creation. What I mean by this is you need to be comfortable with deleting sections and editing to prune away the unnecessary stuff. I like sharp, direct prose because it’s the most powerful, most effective. Before a scene is finished and even during the process of writing it, I’ll read it back and forth and edit over and over. I edit and write at the same time. Destruction is necessary because it refines your ideas.
I usually start on an idea before it’s taken too much hold on my mind, while it’s fresh and exciting. I’ve found too much planning is creatively stifling. I also find I’m the most productive in a time frame. A lot of projects have died in development hell and I’ve learned recently that giving myself a time frame to complete something allows me to finish and move on. You need to move on. You need to.
If I sit with an idea for too long, it never gets made. The expectations morph and become unintelligible in my head. The idea itself loses creative vigor and nothing seems natural.
My writing rituals are quite basic. I try to write when I’m inspired but you can’t wait for it. Instead, I have some methods to get me in that state of mind. If writing while inspired is sugar, than my forced state of inspiration is Splenda. I get to it with a cup of coffee and some music to set the mood. And sometimes it feels like the real thing. But the real thing acted on is the best. Other things I do are organize my work area so the clutter doesn’t affect my head. I usually write at night but early morning writing is great too. It’s all about routine and positive thinking.
My process is always changing. I’m still trying to figure what works and what doesn’t. I haven’t completed a major project yet so that’s proof that maybe in a few months, all of the above may be bullshit. All writers know they can write when they realize just how good they are at bullshitting on paper.
Look for my work soon. I’ll be writing some articles this year. An album this year will also drop. Maybe a finished novel next year… can’t be too optimistic.
With that said, let me introduce Amrita Gill, a writer from Edmonton, Alberta. Amrita writes poetry that’s really observational. Some of her stuff reminds me of Charles Bukowski at his best. She’s next in line for the writing process blog. Check her out: http://flintsofgold.wordpress.com/.