I’m over on the Muse blog contributing to the March theme of writing pet peeves with a post about e-books I ran on this blog last year. While I’m off ranting, please welcome Stacey Marie Brown, author of the new adult novel Darkness of Light, as she gets candid about her writing process.
No Pants Required
by Stacey Marie Brown
The writing process—every writer has one, if not several, for the different types of writing they do. There is the Type-A personality out there who would look at my “process” as more of a “hot mess” rather than an actual method. At closer inspection, though, even I have one.
I learned quickly that, if I was truly serious about writing, I had to leave my house. Yes, I said leave the house—I just heard an outcry of pajama-clad authors around the world rejecting this scenario. Leaving the house means having to get dressed. The horror! I know that half the point of being an author is the fact you can stay in your pajamas and fluffy slippers all day. It’s the little things like hearing the doorbell ring and having no pants on that gets the author’s blood moving. My UPS man is convinced I’m a hermit who doesn’t own any real clothes besides my favourite penguin flannel bottoms my mother made me. I know guys—shocker—this girl is still single. But, some days this is my life, especially if I’m focusing on the marketing aspect of my job. Two o’clock comes around and I haven’t even brushed my teeth yet. Ah, yes, the glamorous life of a writer.
If I want to concentrate on writing, I found being home consists of very little writing and more of my money being spent buying books on Amazon. I am vastly creative on finding distractions. I mean, seriously, how many times do I need to pee in 20 minutes? I certainly don’t go that much when I’m out at a café. And, how many times have I sat at my computer to write when I decide I have to clean my desk. Now, I hate to clean and find every excuse not to do it; but, suddenly, when I should be writing, it MUST be taken care of NOW.
The Internet is the biggest seductress. She is an alluring temptress who could put a Siren out of a job. She certainly has led me down the endless labyrinth of diversion. The hours an author spends “researching” a day, especially on topics that probably have them on some FBI watch list, is astronomical. The Internet is another vice that, for me, must be left at home. Every once in a while, when I really need to know something to carry on a scene, I will break my rule. This is one part of my process, however, I actually try to stick to. I have to—the internet is just so sparkly!
Carrying around a notebook is not really a process but more of a must for a writer. Ideas come at the most inconvenient times: showering, right before falling asleep, driving, or standing in line at the post office. My mind loves doing this. It finds it funny to mess with me. It comes up with those brilliant ideas that only flutter there for a moment before vanishing from my memory forever. If I don’t write it down right then . . . well, tough. I will spend the rest of the day driving myself crazy trying to remember that mind-blowing, hilarious comment my character was going to say. Evil, evil brain.
All writers have different ways in which their characters speak to them. Some authors say they have full control over their characters and what they’re going to say. I’d like to say I was the one in control of the voices in my head. I’m not. Mine seem to have a mind of their own and usually tell me how a scene is going to come out. I’ve gone into a scene wanting the outcome to be one way and, by the end of my writing session, they have taken it in a completely different way. Most of the time they make it better. Maybe it is my acting background that allows me let my “actors” improvise. As their director, I allow them to play out a scene organically, and if I have to pull them back, I do. Most of the time I just let them go. The characters have their own way of speaking each with their own little quirks. I see them playing out the scenes in my head like a movie. This, I’m sure to an outsider, makes me look nuts. Years of having these voices argue in your head . . . is there a writer out there hasn’t become a little nuts?
A new author first feels every word they compose across the page is literary gold and cannot be cut or the entire novel will suddenly make no sense. The truth is that barely half of the words in your first or even fourth draft will make it into the actual novel. This was a hard lesson for me, like being thrown into a gladiator pit. You fight valiantly and brutally for every scene and character and then some editor comes along and mercilessly guts your novel. I felt like giving a funeral to those I had to kill off or cut from existence.
When writing for yourself you can keep every tedious detail intact. But, if you want the story to be published and enjoyed by others, you need to understand that your editor and B-readers are only trying to make your story better. They are not saying you suck, well, at least not directly to your face. Once I let go and got over this, cutting and editing was easier for me. Then I became obsessed with changing, editing, and cutting. I could have continued to work on my book for the next two years, altering and re-writing every line.
There comes a time, though, you have to let go and put it out into the world. And that is like standing naked on burning coals in front of millions of people. Scary, exhilarating, can hurt like hell, and you’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Darkness of Light blurb:
Freak. Witch. Crazy. Schizo.
Ember Brycin has been called them all. She’s always known she’s different. No one has ever called her normal, even under the best circumstances. Bizarre and inexplicable things continually happen to her, and having two different colored eyes, strange hair, and an unusual tattoo only contributes to the gossip about her.
When the latest school explosion lands her in a facility for trouble teens, she meets Eli Dragen, who’s hot as hell and darkly mysterious. Their connection is full of passion, danger, and secrets. Secrets that will not only change her life, but what and who she is—leading her down a path she never imagined possible.
Between Light and Dark, Ember finds a world where truth and knowledge are power and no one can be trusted. But her survival depends on finding out the truth about herself. In her pursuit, she is forced between love and destiny and good and evil, even when the differences between them aren’t always clear. At worst, she will incite a war that could destroy both worlds. At best, she will not only lose her heart but her life and everyone she loves. Once the truth is out, however, there will be no going back. And she’ll definitely wish she could.
About the Author:
I work by day as an Interior/Set Designer and by night as a writer of paranormal fantasy, adventure, and literary fiction. I grew up in Northern California, but have traveled and lived around the world before coming back and settling in San Francisco. Even at an early age I was creating stories and making up intricate fantasies. I acted in Los Angeles for many years before moving abroad, living in England, Australia, Caribbean, and New Zealand. I came back to San Francisco and went to school for Interior Design. During that time I never stopped writing, moving back to San Francisco brought it to the forefront, and this time it would not be ignored. It’s my passion and my love. When I am not writing, I’m usually out hiking, spending time with friends, traveling, listening to music, or designing.