Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Staying drunk on writing

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." ~Ray Bradbury

It occurred to me today that, although I've mentioned my other writing projects in passing, I haven't described them with any detail. Lately my mind has been completely wrapped up in my stalled fiction WIP, a contemporary story about love and infidelity, but even though I'm having trouble with that novel, I am staying drunk on writing by working on a couple of other projects in the meantime.

The first project, my father's memoir, is close to my heart, a story that I want to tell both because I think it's important to record family history and because I think that my dad's career as a logger in Upper Michigan is something that would interest the locals. My dad grew up as the oldest of ten children, with about twenty-five years between him and his youngest brother, Jeffrey, who passed away last summer. Uncle Jeff was actually several months younger than my dad's own son, my brother--definitely an interesting dynamic. Dad has so many stories about growing up among all those kids and about logging with his father, from the early days when horses, rather than semis, were still used in the woods until he retired several years ago. He's recorded many of his stories for me, and I'm in the process of transcribing them--a long, painstaking job--and deciding on the focus and direction I need to take as I write his story.

My other project is also a memoir--my own. I was a NaNoWriMo rebel last November; instead of writing a novel, as the rules require, I wrote about memories from my own life--my childhood, school years, first loves, my marriages, the births of my children... I ended up "winning" NaNo, exceeding the required 50,000-word count by more than 20,000 words, which just shows that I can blather on about myself with the best of them! I've had this project on hold since November. I need to think about a unifying theme, that one thing that my memoir is about, which, since doing so involves stepping back and looking objectively at my own life--at moments I lived--is proving to be difficult. I'll go back to it one day, though, if for no other reason than to ensure that my kids will know what my life was like and how it shaped the person I am today.

In addition to these projects, I work on several smaller pieces each day, from vignettes to short stories to other writing that defies easy classification. I'm always working on something. I have to write. It's the only thing that keeps me sane.

I'd love to hear about your projects. What have you been working on lately?


  1. i know what you mean about writing, its an escape from the day to day =)
    i need to update my wip page, but besides challenges and my blog, i'm concentrating on querying and tweaking my techno thriller novel

  2. Tara, good luck with your query and your novel! I look forward to reading your blog each day. :)

  3. My first NaNoWriMo project was also a memoir. Unfortunately, it was written right after law school, so parts of it read like a treatise. This didn't stop my siblings, all avid readers, from reading and enjoying it. (My youngest sister actually reread it a few months back, and posted a quote about relationships. That was a surprising moment, to read some wisdom on relationships--an area at which I suck!--and go, "Wait, that was mine?!") I had some days left over in November, so I wrote The Monster's Daughter in six days. Then I wrote two other books.

    I'm working on an urban fantasy set close to my hometown right now. I've gotten a few questions about whether it involves vampires. Um, no. Vampires were a mechanism in TMD. They are icky. Bad news. No fun. I hate that I still have to edit its sequels, which I've promised to a few people and might as well do since they're already written. (Ugh!) Don't get me wrong. I love Ginny. I feel for her and I love it when she gets the heck out of Munsen, but . . . vampires? None more! Ever! Please!

    Nope, this time it's mermaids, which I envision as closer to the water-dwelling good guy of Hellboy than Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid. I'm so close to 30k words on that one, and hoping to be able to say I'm on the other side at the end of the day.

    I've set aside a semi-autobio about my mom. My sister and I are actually planning on working on that together, in a half-and-half deal. Something like From Her Daughter's Eyes. When our mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia, it was so, so hard to find good resources, so we'd like to be such a resource. It's a hellish thing to see someone you love talking and behaving as if they're someone else. After a while, it's easier to understand that the person who's screaming at you isn't actually the person you love but an expression of malfunction in the brain . . . but the first couple of years are extremely difficult, and depressing, and I hope that my sis and I will be able to help someone else with their own struggle to understand that.

  4. Deb: I'm really interested in hearing how the semi-autobiography about your mom works out. I've been struggling with structuring my dad's memoir, but I feel pretty confident that once I decide how to write it, the writing itself should go pretty well.