Blog Hopping: my writing process

I am posting today about my writing process thanks to writer-poet Jan Morrill tagging me to answer certain questions about this as part of a blog hop. Jan is author of The Red Kimono, a novel about a Japanese-American girl interned with her family in the Rohwer, Arkansas, camp during WWII. Maybe you’d like to try to win a copy of her latest book, Life: Haiku by Haiku, by submitting a haiku on her blog during April, which is Poetry Month.

Question 1) What are you working on?

My focus is more on encouraging others to write down some of their life stories or those of their elders. I’m particularly passionate about gathering stories of our WWII generation who grew up in a near history most of us can’t imagine. Personal stories tell what really happened, what history books don’t tell or can only gloss over. Currently I’m working with a military veteran putting together his memoir of life as a medic in the Korean War. I am learning a lot from him. A horrifying lot.

Question 2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I pretty much stick to writing (and reading) about history and culture. I like to learn, and life is too short for all the learning I want to do. I like to work with everyday stories of everyday people. Ordinary people are special, too, and their stories are worth telling, at the least for their families. Some have been downright astonishing. I don’t write slick, commercial-interest stories. I am more of a ghostwriter and editor, so I keep the voices of the people telling their stories. They are not MFA grads, so I write their stories or clean up their work to make it read nicely and to make sure the stories have structure. I work hard not to insert my writing style into their stories. The biggest compliment I can get is that the family hears their loved one speaking in the writing and that they learned something about that person they never knew before.

Question 3) Why do you write what you do?

I like to capture personal history before it’s lost. Maybe you’ve heard how every person is a library, and when they leave this earth their library is gone. I want to save these libraries full of history, adventure, and perspective. I also think it’s important for families to keep their own history alive, to know where they came from, their traditions, and what their ancestors lived through. If one generation doesn’t care, the next might.

Question 4) How does your writing process work?

I keep myself very busy, pulled in all directions, so it’s hard to find blocks of time to write. I have a part-time job, too. I don’t have a specific time set aside each day, but my usual time for writing is at night, after supper and any chores, and often I stay up pretty late, sometimes to 3:00am. Since I work with true stories, mostly I’m just editing them and doing research to make sure they are historically and culturally correct. Typically, I work with a series of short stories. I have to edit individual stories and then figure out how to put them together in a way that makes sense. Each story needs a good beginning and a wrap-up end, and there has to be an overall beginning and ending to the series. Of course, the real author has to agree with everything I write. I go back through and edit for consistency and flow. Lots of editing!

* * * * *

Next Monday hop on over to the blogs of the writers I’ve tagged to hear their answers to these questions. (I’ll be hosting Mary Gottschalk on my blog next week since she’s in the midst of blogging a series of posts exploring issues found in her new novel.) Memoir and life writing are considered narrative nonfiction, so we can learn from writers of both nonfiction and fiction.

Jeffrey Penn May, of AskWriteFish.com, has received several short fiction awards, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and an excellent book review in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and he has recently published his humorous narrative Eight Billion Steps: My Impossible Quest For Cancer Comedy.

Kristin Nador, who is currently working on a contemporary suspense novel, encourages creatives to find their own unique voice at her blog, Kristin Nador Writes Anywhere, where you might find her discussing writing craft, creativity tips, or Pinkerton the Cat’s latest adventure.

Mary Gottschalk, who came to creative writing late in life, is the author of a memoir, Sailing Down the Moonbeamand a soon-to-be-released novel, A Fitting Place, about rebound relationships and stepping outside one’s comfort zone.

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About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), and cats
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9 Responses to Blog Hopping: my writing process

  1. Mustang.Koji says:

    It is interesting to note you and I have similar passions in our writing… Well, YOUR writing, my scribbling. But saving a life’s memories to share with their family or with the public is a most wonderful task you are pursuing. I wish you more success.

  2. Ah, Koji-san, I love your “scribblings” and am happy to find another person showing a WWII perspective so many know nothing about. I will be interested in hearing more about FDR and Pearl Harbor.

  3. Jan Morrill says:

    I agree, Linda, that if our family histories are gone when we leave this earth, if they are not recorded. Your work (and passion) is invaluable, and I admire your dedication to it. I’m looking forward to hearing your presentation at OWL!

    Thank you for participating in this blog hop, and thanks so much for the links you shared!

    Jan

  4. There was a lot here, Linda. I loved the idea of capturing the stories of people who “lived” history before their stories are lost. I have one such friend, and lust to tell his story (but he is reluctant). I also resonated with the idea that one’s life is a library … we need to decide what should be preserved and figure out how to do it.

    And, of course, thanks for including me in this blog hop.

    • Yes, Mary, I have some truly historic friends finally ready to tell their stories, and sometimes we just need to keep reassuring them they are interesting – I had to do that with my mother. You are quite a library, yourself, Mary!

  5. Linda, your commitment to saving history is admirable. I love hearing personal stories of the past. They are usually more interesting than any fiction we can dream up! Thanks for including me in the blog hop. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Writing Process Blog Hop: My Writing Process | kristin nador writes anywhere

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