A Lot of Things, Very Slowly

17 Apr

OK, a break of sorts.

I have been asked by my old friend Lindsay Porter, who I have known since we were little more than children, and whose blog Chimeragirl2010 (chimeragirl2010.wordpress.com) is wonderful,  to take part in the #mywritingprocess blog tour by answering four questions about how I write.  Being someone for whom I feel a great fondness and admiration, and who will in my memory be forever young, stumbling down a Bucktown street in her cowboy boots and dress, blind to the world because her glasses would spoil the look, it is my honor and privilege to accept.

What are you working on?

A lot of things, very slowly.

A memoir of Arcola Drive, the street I lived on in suburban Detroit from 1968-1973.  It was a street where most everyone was in their late 2os, had a pack of kids, owned their own house, had a car and took a yearly vacation – all on one salary, somehow connected to the auto industry.  I want to find out what’s happened to those families over the last 40 years.

A novel called Limehouse, which follows a young American in London, as he stumbles into the world of Deakin, cranky storyteller, reluctant rogue, inhabitor of ancient pubs.  A man who ages only when he loves, and who, in this way, transcends time.

A comic novella called Lawrenceville, in which a fierce, but bedridden woman sends her hapless husband and son on a journey through the blizzard of the century in an attempt to beat her sister to a long-lost family treasure:  thousands of dollars in rolled quarters buried somewhere in her old home town.

The linchpin to all this, however, is my first short story, Skating the Lake.  It’s my step from memoir to fiction in a format where I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I can already feel it effecting everything else I’m working on.

And, as always, I’m working on my two blogs, Extra Special Bitter and Playing in the City with Trains,  and the book which I think Playing should become.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

Well, as you can see, I am all over the place genre wise.  And I don’t really think in terms of being different.  The goal is just to be honest.  That being said, I do have specific goals for each of these projects.

For the Detroit memoir, I’m starting from the memories of a 10 year old boy.  So, beyond the story of a changing world, it will also, by necessity, be a meditation on childhood, memory and community.  In this way it will differ from straight journalism or sociology, which, especially in terms of Detroit, have been done by others far more capable than I.

For Limehouse, the goal is to make it real, to strip away all the whiz-bang fantasy elements to the point where you begin to wonder, is this guy really six hundred years old? Did he really drink with Shakespeare? Or is he just an aging roadie with a wild imagination and a serious alcohol problem?  I like that tension.

Lawrenceville is close to the bone.  These people are family.  They make me laugh, and it’s easy to push that side of them.  But they’re not clowns.  I want them to be real.

Skating the Lake  is also very close.  I just want it to be clean.  No romance, no easy sentiment, no cliches.  Just a moment, polished until it shines.

I’m also big on hope, a quality sorely lacking in much of what I read.  If my work differs from others in its hopefulness, that would make me happy.

Why do you write what you do?

I don’t know.  I always wanted to write, and felt that I could do it, but I had nothing to say.  And then my daughter was born, she had Down Syndrome, and it just ripped me open.  Whatever crap I had spent my life jerry-rigging to keep my emotions tamped down just crumbled, and I could write.  I’ve been catching up with myself ever since.

How does your writing process work?

My challenge is time.  In a perfect world, I would type 1000 words a day first thing in the morning.  It’s absolutely my best time, and it’s usually so enjoyable that I easily exceed a 1000 words.  But between work and kids, this is a rare treat.

Barring that, boring temp jobs can be amazing, and are actually responsible for most of what I do.

Finally, although I’m a Luddite at heart and would love to be  one of those long-hand, pencil & legal pad writers, I’m shamed to admit how useful I find the computer.  The ability to edit in the moment is so satisfying.  I am lost without it.

And now I pass you on to the next leg of the tour.  Kindly take a moment to peek in on my generous fellow blogger and gifted photographer Stephanie Glennon, at Love in the Spaces, where she  live-blogs love lost and found, from blue angels in the backyard to penguins on the equator.

And, as always, thanks for stopping by.


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