Blog Tag

It’s Blogger Tag, and I’m it, thanks to my hero Mary Glickman, author of three terrific novels set in the south: Home in the Morning, One More River, and Marching to Zion.

  1. What are you working on? Somewhere in my laptop there’s a folder with notes for a third memoir, a deeper exploration of recurring themes from the first two. But because I have a new book out right now, the only writing I’m actually doing these days is a lot of pleading and bragging on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: profound insights like “Please come see me at Fountain Books in Richmond!” and “Wow, the book’s in the New York Times!”
  2. How does your work differ from others in its genre? I write honest but playful memoirs about serious issues. I like to dig in just enough to hit the tender spots and then have some fun, usually at my own expense.
  3. Why do you write what you do? My first book was conceived when emails to my sister/confidante became particularly frantic during our elderly mother’s health crisis. People seemed to want more of my venting and musing after The Habit, so I just keep on going.
  4. What is your writing process? I wish I had a daily routine, but I’m not the type. I’m always trolling for material – I make quick notes whenever I think of something and stash them places. I lie around fretting and despairing about how to start something. I research – talk to people (friends and family have learned to choose their words carefully), watch movies, read articles and listen to music on the topic I’m exploring. I read books, but I have to exercise caution because good writing in my genre both inspires and intimidates me. I stay away from anything by Joan Didion or Nora Ephron while I’m in the zone. I particularly shunned books like Marley and Me when I was writing The Dog Stays in the Picture. At a certain point I sort everything into an outline, and as soon as something makes me cry or laugh out loud or pisses me off enough, I let myself start writing. This is where things get particularly dangerous. When I’m finally happy with a section, I tend to celebrate by gallumphing around the house. I was so delighted with myself when I finished Chapter 3 of Dog Stays, I lunged up from the sofa, kicked a chair and broke my toe in three places. (Who knew one puny toe had three places to break?) Then I broke a thumb joint tripping over my laptop cord while celebrating the end of a long revision last spring. Now, when friends see me wearing a new cast, they know the writing’s probably going well.

Tagging Lise Anderson, author The Lost Chapters – I highly recommend this book, part memoir part detective story, set in Mad Men-land during the 60s and 70s.

Also tagging blogger Lainey Moseley. Lainey writes touching, funny essays about raising her spirited sixteen-year-old daughter Leta, who’s developmentally delayed due to a rare syndrome. You can read Lainey’s blog tag piece here.