The single most distinguishing element of my writing process, at least today, is procrastination. Yes, this post was supposed to go up yesterday and it is going up today. Thank goodness that Patricia Dunn’s gar has been on the ball… Check out his wonderful post on:
Patricia Dunn accosted me on my very first day in America, when I visited an MFA class at Sarah Lawrence College in 1997. She was so excited by the program, so happy about what she was learning and doing, that she couldn’t help herself but want to encourage me to come too. A stranger from Toronto.
And she’s been ‘encouraging’ me–by which I mean–kicking my butt, ever since.
And thank God. All writers need a butt kicker in their lives. She and I formed, with other writers, a butt kicker group that we’ve cleverly disguised as a “writing group”. Fellow travelers now for 15 or so years. Through marriages and children, job changes, rejections and publications.
She’s an exciting writer, awesomely engaging and provocative. Her young adult book “Rebels by Accident” is coming out in December, and she’s got her next manuscript out being read now too. She’s very good about kicker her own but too.
So here are my answers to the questions concerning us today:
1.) What are you working on?
A young adult series about a girl who gets yanked back into 1589 Scotland to a time when being burned as a witch was an occupational hazard for midwives and other women healers.
2.) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
What is exciting to me about this series is that i’ve put my sixteen-year-old protagonist into a real historical world, so that the story revolves around real events and real people. My storyline is driven, at least in part, by the events of those years, 1589-1600, when hundreds of women and men were persecuted as witches. In fact, one of my main characters, Agnes Sampsone, was even interrogated by King James VI (who later went on to be King of England too as James I, he shepherded the King James bible into publication too).
3.) Why do you write what you do?
I published a memoir in 2008, which i felt driven to write because it was a story I wanted to get out there (about having a baby on my own, Choosing You). This time around, I’m writing these stories because I’ve been intensely interested in witches since my twenties. And it’s fun. Pure crazy fun to take history and make dangerous, exciting story out of it.
4.) How does your writing process work?
Oh, well. Going back to what I wrote about at the beginning of this post, my process involves an unending struggle with procrastination. I know it’s at least partly true, that if I’m engaged in my work, then the non-writing time is as important as the ‘putting words on the paper’ time. We write with our unconscious as much as our conscious mind.
Still it’s not a process i would suggest anyone duplicate.
But when i’m in the thick of it, after the hemming and ha-ing, and dilly and dallying, as i am now, not just with this post, but with my YA series, I get up early, and write during the best and freshest part of my day. As close to my dreaming state as possible. Then i go on with the rest of my life, my family and my work and my butt kicking friends.
I’m pleased to announce our next writers:
Ayesha Mattu (left) is a writer, editor and international development consultant who has worked in the field of women’s human rights since 1998. She was selected a ‘Muslim Leader of Tomorrow’ by the UN Alliance of Civilizations & the ASMA Society and has served on the boards of IDEX, the Women’s Funding Network, and World Pulse. Ayesha is an alumna of Voices of Our Nations writers’ workshop and a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.
Nura Maznavi (right) is an attorney, writer, and Fulbright Scholar. She has worked with migrant workers in Sri Lanka, on behalf of prisoners in California, and with a national legal advocacy organization leading a program to end racial and religious profiling. She lives in Chicago.
As well as:
Leora Tanenbaum’s next book is I Am Not a Slut: Slut-Shaming in the Age of the Internet, forthcoming from HarperCollins in 2015. She is the author of four previous books including Taking Back God: American Women Rising Up for Religious Equality (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) andBad Shoes & The Women Who Love Them (Seven Stories, 2010). Her book Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation (HarperPerennial, 2000) is a staple in gender/women’s studies and sociology courses on college campuses around the United States. Leora currently is the senior writer/editor for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where she writes op-eds, speeches, and other materials to advance reproductive justice and to ensure that women have access to affordable, safe, and legal health care no matter where they live and who they are. She lives in New York City with her two teenage sons. She enjoys reading in print and writing with a pencil … though you can follow her on Twitter @Leora Tanenbaum