Thursday, January 7

Posted by Laurel Garver on Thursday, January 07, 2010 8 comments
The writer's meme has been circulating in the blogosphere for months now, so I knew it was only a matter of time till someone said "tag, you're IT!" That someone was Heather of The Secret Adventures of WriterGirl.

I'm sorry to say I got a bit long-winded on this one. You get me started talking writing and I just can't shut up.

1) What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

Most recently, I wrote new content for WIP-1 chapter 7. I'm determined to finish this rewrite by Easter.
My earliest work that survived a family house fire are several unfinished junior-high attempts at novel writing. All were written on those tablets the school supplied--you know, the 5"x9" unbleached, recycled paper with blue lines.

2) Write poetry?
Yes. Studying Ginsberg’s “Howl” as an undergrad was a watershed moment that exposed me to the raw power of the genre. In my 20s, I focused largely on writing and publishing poetry. I still credit poetry training for shaping my sense of rhythm, and love of alliteration, assonance, allusion and word play in my fiction. My major influences in poetry writing are Scott Cairns, Annie Dillard and David Citino.

3) Angsty poetry?
Oh, sure. I’ve certainly had my Emo moments, especially after prolonged exposure to Beat poetry.

4) Favorite genre of writing?
Young adult edgy inspirational

5) Most annoying character you've ever created?
Fletcher, a minor character (best friend of the love interest) is an geek who aspires to a life in politics: a teen middle-age-wannabe. Here’s how he interacts with other teens: “Speaking in a low, earnest voice, he shakes my hand while touching my shoulder—one of his typical politician gestures, like he’s president of everything.”

6) Best plot you've ever created.
WIP-1, which involves grieving, ghosts and family secrets. I’d rather not give more specifics, since I’m still trying to work out some plot kinks in the middle.

7) Coolest plot twist you've ever created?
All I can say is that it involves a creep who collects mannequins.

8) How often do you get writer's block?
Every few months. It’s just the nature of the process. You run and run, then need to take a breather.

9) Write fan fiction?
Does really derivative fantasy count?

10) Do you type or write by hand?
I do all note taking and much of my rough drafting in longhand. For the “smooth draft,” written in complete, grammatical sentences, I compose at the keyboard.

11) Do you save everything you write?
I save electronic copies of drafts and keep backups in e-mail. Even crummy rough drafts have bits that can be useful somewhere.

12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
Yes. Sometimes an idea that doesn’t work in one context works in another. And some ideas need to cook for years before one’s mind is ready to write them well.

13) What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
I really like the romantic subplot in WIP-1. The MC and love interest push each other’s buttons a fair amount, but they build a strong bond based on a caring friendship. Their conflicts arise because each wants to bring out the best in the other.

14) What's everyone else's favorite story you've written?
Of the pieces I’ve shown people, I’ve had strong positive responses to chapter 3 in WIP-1, and to a short story prequel to WIP-1 that’s currently out on submission.

15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
I may someday resurrect a YA romantic comedy novel I started at 16. It explores the band geek subculture. I think my WIP novels would probably qualify as angsty teen drama, though my MC’s pain comes from real suffering, not merely adolescent ennui.

16) What's your favorite setting for your characters?
I have little first-hand experience with the 'burbs, so I prefer urban and rural contexts. My settings are based on actual places, real locations I’ve fictionally altered or well-researched fabrications. The small village in northeast England I created for WIP-1 was the most fun to research (yes, a trip abroad was involved).

17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three: Two novels and a short story

18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?
I won a short story contest in junior high for a maudlin piece about a paraplegic girl. It was called “Christmas of Sorrows.” I currently have a story excerpt entered in Nathan Bransford's diary contest. I have no idea how it will fare. I'm only about 60% happy with it.

19) What are your five favorite words?
Murmur, hiss, sheepish, languid, glisten

20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?
The MC in my WIP short story (excerpted for Nathan's contest; to read the excerpt, see sidebar on this page, above the blog awards). It’s the first autobiographical piece I’ve written in ages.

21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
I usually start with a flicker of an idea of the person’s potential role and build from there in a series of “If…then” exercises. For example, I felt my MC’s best friend should be another outsider in the prep school, but one who’d initiate a relationship. If outgoing outsider, then quirky and into practical jokes. If into practical jokes, then from a big family. If from a big family, then a transplant from the South.

I suppose how those “if…then” cascades go a particular direction is a function of my own experiences, people I know or have observed, and characters I’ve been exposed to in books, films and TV.

22) Do you ever write based on your dreams?
In college I wrote a dream-based sci-fi short story. In it, people traveled using an elaborate system of translucent vacuum tubes (similar to the technology used at bank drive-throughs). It was kind of steampunk now that I think about it.

23) Do you favor happy endings?
I like redemptive endings in which characters confront the worst in themselves and take a tentative step toward change.

24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Not in rough draft. I usually jot disjointed fragments as fast as the ideas flow.

25) Does music help you write?
Definitely. It can be a great tool to set mood so I can jump into the emotion of a scene. Other times I just need familiar tunes to put me in a working groove.

26) Quote something you've written. Whatever pops in your head.
I look up from my notes to see familiar shop signs lining the street. City pigeons rip a discarded bagel. Eager dogs pull their owners toward Central Park. A pack of Columbia students jostle into a pizza joint. Soon I’ll be home, where Dad once walked, whistled and left wet towels on the bathroom floor. Will his voice still echo down the hall, hung floor to ceiling with his visions of beatific bag ladies and neon-lit Hasidic boys at the bus stop, longing for Zion? Saltiness drips onto my lips, tasting like the Marmite he used to feed me on thin triangles of toast. The world outside blurs. I slump against the cool glass, tired and hurting everywhere.

I'm tagging Amber at Musings of Amber Murphy. She named her MC Laurel, which makes me feel exceptionally cool.


  1. love that passage you quote. feel like i'm write there. very fresh descriptive writing.

  2. Takes a long time to do, dunnit? Congratulations again on the autobiographical piece. I'm rooting for a finalist slot for you!

  3. Thanks for tagging but, but I've already done the meme! I'll link it if you happen to be interested in what I had to say. :)

    And, ahh... beat poets. Also, I enjoyed reading your excerpts, and your if-then theory.

  4. Thanks, Michelle. I think my other followers got too bored to read on that far.

    Simon, yup. I should've broken this up into about four posts. Stupid me.

    Amber: I'll pop on by to take a look. Thanks for playing along.

  5. You have a superb imagination--band geeks, mannequin collector, tube travel. Wonderful tidbits about the writerly you. I said it before and say it again that piece for Nathan's contest was powerful and eloquent.

  6. Bless you, Tricia. I haven't been feeling the love after not placing in Nathan's contest and it being way too quiet here in the comments. But I think many of our blogosphere friends are caught up in the "I blew it in December and need to get really productive, NOW" phase, thus aren't commenting much.

  7. Fletcher sounds great. I loved the phrase "like the president of everything." I think I knew a kid like that. It's fun to get to know you better, Laurel. Your excerpts have great voice.

  8. I love the imagery in your writing. Also, I'm with Natalie, Fletcher sounds hilarious.