Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Blog Hop: My Writing Process

This is me taking part in a “blog hop.”  

Here’s how it works: writers/bloggers answer the same four questions about the process of writing, then we invite more bloggers to participate. By the end of the year, the goal is to have as many bloggers as possible riffing on this same theme.

The whole #MyWritingProcess endeavor seems like one part chain letter, one part self interview, one part shameless self-promotion and one part supporting other writers. I’m taking part because my friend and awesome writer Shelby Settles Harper tapped me. An alum of the Johns Hopkins University master’s in writing program, where I’m studying, Shelby is an all-around great writer and literary thinker who blogs at “Worth the Writing.”

So, on to the questions...

Q: What am I working on?

Well, like always, I’m working on a whole lot of things at once. I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my second novel Fremdheim for about 18 months now. By the end of summer, I hope to have it ready to go as I search for a new agent and publisher.

I just finished a short story based on my first trip to New Orleans. While at the W Hotel lobby, I met a gravedigger, who took me around to some remote and derelict cemeteries. The story has been simmering for years, but I finally got it down on paper for my “Identity in Literature” class at Johns Hopkins. Hopefully, someone will find the morbid chaos of this story interesting and agree to publish it.

I’ll soon be traveling in South Africa for the first time. I’ll be surfing some cold, sketchy breaks, roaming around in nature, camping out in the wilderness, tasting some wines. So, considering this will be the most epic trip of my 30 years, I plan on writing a lot about it. I have long been a fan of South African wine, and I look forward to my tastings and tours with some great producers. Surely, I will return with many a blog post to work on. I also plan on writing a kind of surf adventure travel piece I hope to submit to some sports and travel publications.

Q: How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My novel Fremdheim is, like Broken Bones, “fiction,” but it’s based on my experience of a specific time and place. As a skeptic son of evangelical missionaries, I had a lot to unpack when my parents decided to leave our Jersey Shore home to Kyiv, Ukraine to tell the people there about Jesus. I ended up at a missionary kid boarding school in Germany’s Black Forest, and Fremdheim is based on that experience.

It wasn’t the high point of my life, but I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. So I have a love-acceptance relationship with the past. I’m not bitter or angry, I’m just reflective. This chaotic past has made me who I am today, so I like to dig into it, explore it, hold it up to the light.

Q: Why do I write what I do?

I’m constantly challenging myself to try bigger and more difficult things. And writing is one of the most challenging things I know. It’s not dangerous, per se, but it’s thrilling.

As far as subject matter, my writing reflects my preference for the rebel, the punk, the outcast, and it stands in opposition to hierarchy, religion and taboo. But, mostly, I love exploring complex characters who operate within dynamic environments. I like writing about those moments when things clash, when people break down, when someone takes a risk and either fails miserably or pulls off something awesome.

Also, in a physical and psychological sense, I write because I feel a constant compulsion to do so. On some level, I write because not writing makes me feel anxious, helpless and downright crazy.

Q: How does your writing process work?

I write most (and I think best) late at night. But each time I sit down at the computer, I approach writing with a different mindset. I like to write in different physical, emotional and mental states, so I can attack a particular piece of writing from different vantage points. Sometimes I get up real early, sip way too much coffee and write for hours before doing anything else. Sometimes I hunker down in my man cave all night, typing away with metal blasting. I also love writing while traveling; it helps me gain new perspectives.

Next up on the blog hop: two friends and awesome writers, Gillian Marchenko and Addie Zierman.  

Gillian Marchenko is a writer and national speaker who lives in Chicago with her husband Sergei and four daughters. Her memoir Sun Shine Down was published in August of 2013. She is currently writing another memoir about depression. Find out more about Gillian and her work at www.gillianmarchenko.com.  

Addie Zierman (@addiezierman) is an author and blogger. She recently published her debut memoir, When We Were On Fire, which was named by Publisher’s Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2013. She lives in Andover, Minnesota with her husband and two sons and blogs at addiezierman.com.

As always, thanks for reading. Cheers!


  1. "I like writing about those moments when things clash, when people break down, when someone takes a risk and either fails miserably or pulls off something awesome." YES. Loved hearing about your process. Have fun in South Africa. Drink some amazing wine for me!

    1. Thanks Addie! I plan on having a blast. Cheers!