Tag Archive: My Writing Process

Following on from last week’s (first ever) guest blog and continuing with the wonderful “My Writing Process” series, I now present you with a guest blog from Bonnie ZoBell who gives us an wonderfully honest insight into her writerly world!

Bonnie ZoBell: My Writing Process: Blog Tour

And now I hand you over to Bonnie herself, enjoyToday I’m taking part in the #MyWritingProcessTour. It’s so interesting and instructive to see how other writers go about their work. I was nominated by my friend, Susan Tepper, writer extraordinaire. Be sure to get a copy of Susan’s latest book, The Merrill Diaries, beautifully written and a thought-provoking romp through the U.S. and parts of Europe.

The awkward part about writing this blog post is that at the moment I don’t have much of a writing process because besides teaching, I’m in the process of birthing my newest book, What Happened Here: a novella & stories. I’m doing everything I can to ease her passage into the world, making sure she’s nurtured in every possible way, and giving her a good wholesome introduction with the hope people will be as good to her as they’ve been to me. At the moment, it’s on pre-release and available only on my site, but she’ll be officially launched on May 3rd. What I’ll do here is write about my process when I’m writing. I warn you: This process isn’t entirely the healthiest for children and other living things, in other words younger writers. Don’t show this to your students.


What am I working on?

I’ve gone back to an old novel, most recently called Animals Voices—which I worked on for many years—because I think I’ve finally figured out a solution to a problem I was having. The story starts out with some young kids, the boy very curious about the unusual girl, after he gets over her strangeness and the way all his friends make fun of her, because she can communicate with animals. They grow up and marry and he is diagnosed with AIDS in the early years. Communication is difficult when no one will acknowledge the disease, probably even more so than communicating with owls. Then I’m going to go back to another novel that I also spent years on called Bearded Women, about a woman who goes to an electrologist because she’s hirsute. There are class issues between her and the electrologist, and it comes down to the main character needing to pluck other parts of her persona as well.


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’d call what I write literary fiction, though I’d like to write more magical realism. Oh, give me anything to read that contains beautiful language and a good story, and I’ll devour it. Perhaps mine differs because of my love of setting. I’m thrilled going back to Animal Voices, getting the chance to revisit the southern part of Del Mar in San Diego, land filled with an estuary, all kinds of unique crawly life, and the magnificent Torrey Pine trees. These gnarled pines grow crooked because they’re on the bluffs right above the ocean and therefore get a lot of strong winds. They’d be creepy if they weren’t so beautiful.

I’m no minimalist, though I try to be as spare as I can. I like to think that sometimes I’m successful at writing beautiful, in-depth descriptions that let you see images in life in a unusual way without going overboard.

I’m whimsical.


Why do I write what I do?

I write because I love language and because writing fiction helps me figure out the world. I’d be lost without it.


How does my writing process work?

This is the unhealthy part: I’m a binge writer. I can go for days, weeks, even a couple of years and do nothing but write. I ignore my husband and animals, my hair gets dirty, my bills don’t get paid, and I wear clothes that should have been recycled some time ago if I get really passionate and possessed about what I’m writing. But it takes a toll. So after doing this for a while, it’s hard to allow myself to go back there—there’s so much deprivation. Unfortunately, the other side of it is that I can also go for a long time not writing at all. That’s where I am right now while I promote and regroup from my collection. But I’m daydreaming about those Torrey Pine trees.


My tags

I’m tagging three of my favorite writers who will take the baton next and telling you about their writing process:

Myfanwy CollinsLives on the North Shore of Massachusetts with her husband and son. She has published her début novel Echolocation, a short fiction collection I Am Holding Your Hand, and her YA novel The Book of Laney is forthcoming.

James ClaffeyJames’ collection Blood a Cold Blue was published earlier this year. His writing has appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, and he is currently working on a novel based on his childhood in Ireland.

Tamara Linse – Writer, cogitator, recovering ranch girl ~ broke her collarbone when she was three, her leg when she was four, a horse when she was twelve, and her heart ever since. She lives in Wyoming, and just released her collection, How to Be a Man.


About Bonnie ZoBell:

Bonnie ZoBell’s linked collection, What Happened Here: a novella and stories, will be released by Press 53 on May 3, 2014. She’s received a NEA fellowship, and currently teaches at San Diego Mesa College. Visit her at http://www.bonniezobell.com.


When I asked Guilie Castillo Oriard and Susan Tepper to participate in this writing process interview, Susan stated that she unfortunately doesn’t have much of a chance to maintain a blogging space these days… But why should that stop us?!

So, in a first for scribblingsimmons we have a guest blog!

But enough dilly-dallying! I shall now hand you over to Susan!


What am I working on?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Why do I write what I do?
How does my writing process work?


There is nothing I enjoy more than actual writing. Second in line is discussing writing and the writing life. I’ve been doing it for 20 years, both fiction and poetry pretty much simultaneously.

Right now I’m working on several new projects. One is a large project, it’s a three act play that I’ve written with a partner. A zany comedy and we have had a blast writing it. I’m also working on a poetry collection of linked poems revolving around a small room. I also have several novels written that haven’t been published yet, and one in particular (a road novel) that is dark and funny, that I hope to place this year or next.

Susan Tepper - The Merrill Diaries

Susan Tepper’s “The Merrill Diaries”, published by Pure Slush, July 2013

How does my writing process work is a good question. Because I don’t have a process. I’m a sporadic person who goes by whim and whimsy in all matters of life. If I get an idea, and it won’t let go, I sit down and turn it into a story or poem. I have a nifty new space all done up pretty and cosy for writing, but I still can write anywhere and I do. All last year I wrote ‘on the road’ in cafes, trains, planes, hallways, hospital rooms: wherever life led me. It was pretty exciting working this way, I made believe I was a journalist imbedded with the troops. It makes life more interesting to have an imaginative life (provided you know it is all imagination)! When I interviewed the poet Dennis Mahagin regarding his book Grand Mal, I was sitting in a hallway next to a large trash barrel of raw garbage. I mentioned this to Dennis and he wrote back: Susan you’re tough. I liked hearing that. You need to be tough in this business, you need a hide made out of steel.

Thanks for reading about my writing process.

For next week, I’d like to nominate the uber-talented writers Gay Degani, Gloria Mindock, and Bonnie ZoBell.

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/

I also tagged Guilie Castillo Oriard to take part in this writing process interview! Take a peek at her answers here: http://guilie-castillo-oriard.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/mywritingprocess-youve-been-tagged.html

If you enjoyed this and want to jump on to the #MyWritingProcess tag, please! Yes! Do so! Next Monday (or whichever Monday works for you), answer these four questions on your blog and tag another one, two or three writers to post their answers the following Monday. Why not leave a comment below letting me know when and where your post will be up so I can visit and tweet and Facebook and G+ and, you know, share it everywhere! Us writers must stick together 😉

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/