So, I don’t usually jump on these bandwagons—even though I love learning how writers work and think—but I figured it was time to do my part. A hearty thanks to Brent Rydin for nominating me. He’s an absolutely tremendous writer and runs a new-but-already-killer journal called Wyvern Lit—and he’s just a really great guy in general (and in person, too!). You can find his writing process blog tour post here.
Away we go:
1. What are you working on? Finishing a secret project, and also different secret project—neither of which I can talk about—but I’m also entrenched in research for a new novel that takes place on a fictional island in Lake Superior. Been drawing made-up maps, creating fake local histories…it’s a blast.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre? Because it’s from me? That’s sort of a loaded question, I guess, and maybe it’s a cop-out, but I’ve had my own experiences in life, my own interests, so obviously, whatever I write will differ completely from anyone else, yeah? The non-smarmy answer, I suppose, is that I have a serious love of place and space—specifically the reverence of space, how we react to and treat certain places, how we interact with the environment and how the environment interacts with us. I’m also interested in this same way with the space between people—our interactions, what forms our relationships and how we act. So I approach most everything I do—not everything, of course—with this in mind, I think. And I’m always looking for stories and books and projects and art that also deals with space in this way, our interaction with it—films dripping with moody atmospheres, for example.
3. Why do you write what you do? Kind of already answered that above. BUT…I have an attraction to place, to space. I find it utterly mesmerizing. Part of this is due to my love of regionalist literature—how writing can differ so much depending on where you’re from; how the mythologies and stories from these places create uniqueness that a lot of folks aren’t aware of. What each person can bring to the table, hat’s made them who they are, how they see things, and the work they produce because of these factors, is part of the reason Midwestern Gothic exists—an exploration of the Midwest and the writers and writing that takes place here and who we are and the things we think and talk about. So all of that is jumbled up in my head and when I write, it’s almost always in my mind, these things. Can’t escape it.
4. How does your writing process work? Depends. For short stories I get an idea, can’t get it out of my head, and I just write. I don’t really outline shorter works, I work it out in my head as I go and then revise revise revise until I’m happy with it. For longer stuff, like the new book, I spend time researching—weeks, months, whatever it takes—until I feel totally immersed in that world. This new book, the map-making, the faux-histories, all of that helps me get in character, so to speak, and then when I feel ready, when it all clicks into place, I start going. When I was working on my novel Sea of Trees, I researched the forest, Aokigahara, general culture and suicide in Japan for months, outlined the book, and then put it all together. As for physically, how does it work, I have to write on a computer, I take notes as I go, I brainstorm beforehand and outline, too, but when I’m actually writing I need to be at a coffee shop or library. I can do almost no work at home, no matter how great the space is. I have to be out among people, which I find fantastically inspiring. Sucks, sometimes, when I want to go write but I’m stuck somewhere, so I’ll take notes and do what I can, but to get into the total writer mode I have to be out.
And thar she blows. Oh, and I cordially nominate the following talented folks:
Schuler Benson’s fiction and poetry have appeared in Kudzu Review, Hobart, The Idle Class, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for a Sundress Publications Best of the Net Award, a storySouth Million Writers Award, and three Pushcart Prizes, and he placed second in The Fallen Sky Review’s 2013 Speculative Fiction Launch Contest. He completed his undergraduate studies at University of Arkansas and is currently enrolled in the MA program at Coastal Carolina University. The Poor Man’s Guide to an Affordable, Painless Suicide is his first book. You can find him on Twitter at @schulerbenson and on Facebook at /schulerbenson.
Lee L. Krecklow is a fiction writer living outside of Milwaukee. His work has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Cheap Pop, Pantheon Magazine and The Madison Review. Find him at www.leelkrecklow.com.
Elizabeth Schmuhl is a writer, dance maker, and mover whose work appears or is forthcoming in [PANK], theNewerYork, Birkensnake, Paper Darts and elsewhere. Find her online at www.elizabethschmuhl.com.