Friday, March 28, 2014

Writer Process Blog Hop

I've been tagged by writer-publisher Milton Davis to talk about my writing process

How does my writing process work:
Basically it's a battle against procrastination and diversion. Once I beat those two demons, I write easily.

I tend to just write and write to see where the story leads. Or where God leads the story. If an incident happens while I'm writing -- like a great youtube cooking video or a story on PBS or Discovery Channel or CNN-- I slip it into my story. Stuff and incidents kinda get pulled into my story whenever they appear. I'm pretty catch as catch can because plotting a story will only result in a story that I know, and will only result in a story created by my limited mind. I've never plotted a a story. Stories like songs already exist in the universe. We just have to listen clearly to discover the story and to have it flow through our pen without any agenda. When I listen to where the story wants to go, it's amazing how perfectly put together a story seems to be -- as if I actually planned it. God's very generous that way. I get to take credit for foreshadowing, sub-plots, cause and effect, scenes-sequels, and really I had nothing to do with it. It's better for me than planning. When I plan a story, the story feels limited. But when I just get whimsical and write whatever thing that pops into my mind, everything works soooooo well. I trust they'll all come together...and they always do. My job is just to hear precisely -- without agenda or opinion or stronghold or aim or presupposition-- and to see clear.

What I'm working on:
My Life as an Onion -- This is my attempt to do a story in which charismatic pentecostal gifts are natural. Secular writers have a lot of stories where folks use their psychic gifts "normally" and battle great forces with said gifts. This is very difficult to do with Christian characters because there is the possibility of being preachy. Plus... so many Christians have a problem with anything that feels supernatural. So, it's a fine line to walk...this natural supernaturalism...with an easygoing way calm character who routinely accepts the weirder things of life. Making the supernatural seem routine is the fun part. In the last chapter, main character just suddenly began understanding the Korean language. She doesn't mention it to anyone, although she finds it strange. She's simply sitting back and trying to understand this gift that has now been presented to her. Of course, it will come in handy. No doubt, for eavesdropping.

How my work differs from others in my genre:
My stories tend to be very Christian and yet very accessible to secular readers. That is my great ambassadorial gift, I think. Most Christian writers don't have that ambassadorial gift. When someone reads my stories, Christianity is in every dot, tittle, dash. Scripture is everywhere. And although the reader is aware of that...there is a feeling also that the story is not Christian at all. (I think I did tip the scale in Wind Follower a bit, where the Christianity was very noticeable. But in Constant Tower it isn't at all.)

My stories are also about race, culture, and tribes. Again, this gift of being ambassadorial comes into play. Most Black writers write for Black folks, even when they are trying to write multiculturally. When someone reads my stories, however, there is something to my characters that transcend race, culture, and tribes...even though the main character is usually Black. Anyone can pick up the Constant Tower or any of my stories and not realize the author is a Black woman.

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