My Writing Process is a series of blog posts in which authors ‘tag’ each other to answer some questions about their work. Gill Hoffs asked me to take part. She also asked Matt Potter to take part, you can read his answers here: Matt Potter: Writing tag – My Writing Process Q & A

About Gill Hoffs:
Gill Hoffs grew up on the Scottish coast, studied Psychology, Biology and English Literature at the University of Glasgow, then worked with children with a variety of needs (ASD and/or EBD, mainly) throughout the UK. She married her best friend and they now live in Warrington in the north of England with their son Angus. She can be found blogging here: http://gillhoffs.wordpress.com/

What am I working on?
I’m now down the last of my five stories for “2014 – A Year in Stories“. It’s an ambitious and rather exciting project from the mind of Pure Slush’s Matt Potter and it goes like this…

“2014 – A Year in Stories” is a twelve volume anthology. Each volume is devoted to one month of the year, and therefore named “January Vol. 1”, “February Vol. 2”, and so on.

Each writer involved is contributing one story per month, and each of these writers is taking one day of each month – the 5th, the 13th, the 21st, for example – and setting their stories on that same day of every month. (So, for example, a writer takes the 10th – Friday 10th January, Monday 10th February, Monday 10th March, Thursday 10th April, etc – throughout the year.)

It was a great thing to get involved in and it’s allowed me to develop much more as a writer than any of my other dabbles!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I really am not sure about that one. Do I have a ‘genre’? When it comes to ‘style’ of writing I’d say that over the last year or so I’ve veered away from taking myself, and what I pen, too seriously. When I first started getting involved with other writers I made the assumption that to be taken seriously you had to write seriously (all very low-key and maudlin). But now I’ve allowed my wings to unfurl a little as I feel a little more comfortable in my own writerly skin, and this approach has been allowed to come to fruition with my stories for the “2014” project. I like to write about people and their inter-personal interactions. Human beings do, think and say the strangest things when you look into it deeply. They’re mostly odd, quirky, absurd creatures, and they become the way they are for different reasons. I’m really quite interested in translating the human psyche with all its foibles into (hopefully) humorous but ultimately touching stories.

Why do I write what I do?
What else would I do with the ideas that come to me during the day, when I’m stuck on a bus, when I’m at work and (nearly always) when I’m trying to go to sleep?! It’s simply another outlet, a way to somehow ‘leave something behind’.

How does my writing process work?
Process or habits? These two things often are at little blurry at my end. To start with, I jiggle things around mentally for quite a while before putting down any words. It was quite quirky to see Susan Tepper (a fellow ‘2014’ comrade) state that one of my ‘2014’ stories (March) played out like the opening scene of a BBC drama, because I often see everything as visuals, as if I’m watching it on TV or as a play. I place myself in the scene and crazily move things around, working out just what characters are saying and doing as the scene plays out. This mental rewinding, editing and playback can go on for days, weeks, months, even years with certain things I’ve worked on. I’ve also realised that I quite naturally pay a lot of attention to my surroundings. My job brings me into (far too much!) contact with the public and it’s quite amazing what you can get just from overhearing strange conversations. So many people’s lives are infused with tension, drama and often unintentional humour! The possibilities for inspiration and dialogue are simply endless when you have circles and people around you. I don’t write much at home… I’m too easily distracted! Nearly all my scribbling, editing, corresponding tends to happen in coffee shops after a shift at the day job. The caffeine, munchies, bland background music, uncluttered surroundings, it all seems to help me keep my focus. And believe me, that’s where the true challenge lies!
Thanks for reading about my writing process!

I nominate the following writers’ to share their own approaches with us next week:

Guilie Castillo Oriard – Guilie is a 41-year-old Mexican writer currently exiled in the Caribbean island of Curaçao, where she lives with seven rescue dogs and a very, very patient Dutch man. Guilie can be found blogging here: http://guilie-castillo-oriard.blogspot.co.uk/

Susan Tepper is the author of four published books of fiction and a chapbook of poetry. Her recent title “The Merrill Diaries” (Pure Slush Books, 2013) is a Novel in Stories. Tepper is a staff editor at Flash Fiction Chronicles where she conducts the author/book interviews UNCOV/rd. Her new column “Let’s Talk” appears at Black Heart Magazine. Additionally, her reading series FIZZ has been running sporadically at KGB Bar, NYC, these 6 or 7 years. http://www.susantepper.com/

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