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.
- 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!”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. https://www.facebook.com/lostchaptersmemoir
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.