And by cross-pollination, I mean me on someone else's blog, someone else on mine. Well, that sucked the cute right out of that title, huh? Anyway, today I'm posting a chat I had (via email, of course) with a blogger friend of mine. We talked about what we're working on now and how we got into writing and - well, you can read below to find out for yourself.
So without further adieu, here's a writerly chat with my blogging friend, Anne Michaud (that's her...isn't she pretty?).
ANNE: So Jamie, what are you up to? Short stories? Novels? Scripts? Do tell....
JAMIE: Well, work keeps me really busy, but I try to write a little something each day on my current WIP, which is a YA dystopian that I'm really liking right now!
What about you, Anne. What does the future hold for Livy?
ANNE: Livy (well, Rebel, really) just survived a COMPLETE rewrite. My friend Pat read my first chapters and said: it just doesn't work, you can do so much better. So I cut and cut until I realized I should rewrite the whole thing. So I did. And now, it shines. You know what? My inciting incident used to happen at page 112. Problem. Especially for a dystopian action-thriller. Now? Page 13. And it's so good, I'm getting excited just thinking about it. I'm editing and proof-reading now, polishing the cover letter after another complete overall. But this is it, Jamie. Can you feel it? I sure can.
JAMIE: So glad to hear that you've found your groove with Rebel! I hope it ends up being all you hope for.
ANNE: But dear fellow writer, what is your WIP!?? Tell me about your dystopia! I want to know who's in it! And most importantly, what inspired you to write it?
JAMIE: I don't want to give too much away about my WIP (you know, in case someone better steals my idea!), but I will say that it involves a young girl who holds the future of humanity in her hands and she doesn't know what to do with that. She has a decision to make - and she's the absolute only person on the planet with this choice - that will literally either save or destroy mankind. No pressure there, huh?
I was actually inspired by my younger sister. She had a set of twins about two years ago and ever since then, this tiny nugget of an idea has been stewing in the back of my mind (that should give you an idea of what my WIP is about!). Only recently did I decide to let that idea out and see what happens with it.
Tell me, Anne...how scared (or excited) were you to take on the challenge of tossing out all that hard work and starting over? That had to have been a tough thing to do!
ANNE: Oh, that sounds cool. Me loves characters going through insane ordeals! The weight of the world... wow. Yep, great idea, Jamie. And twins? Even better.
I read your question and could feel the back of my throat - I've been working on Rebel for 7 friggin' years! I dreamt about it (don't laugh, I'm never whimsical except for this one time!) and wrote it as a screenplay for my Master's project. I still wasn't satisfied. So I turned it into a novel for adults. But it still lacked un je ne sais quoi. In the middle of writing my second draft, it screamed: YA!!! So yeah, tossing all of it hurt a bit.
But I knew it was for the good of mankind. I mean me. Sometimes, it's what you can't imagine doing over again that changes your life. Errr... wishful thinking. I can't believe how much the story is changed. I'm in love with it, now. Before, Rebel was like a friend with benefits. Now? I'm marrying it, full commitment with a mortgage and a baby.
Tell me how it works for you: you have an idea, it develops into a story... but do you twist it into a genre? For instance your dystopian story for YA, could it work for older fantasy fans? How did you decide to write it for younger readers?
JAMIE: Glad to know you like my idea! Like I said before, it's in the beginning stages, so I don't have much down yet. But what I do have I like.
That's so cool that your WIP began as a screenplay - usually it's the other way around, you know? And believe me, I know what you mean about it screaming YA...all my stuff tends to do that!
As far as how it works for me, I'm not really sure (lame-o, right?). I have an idea and I sit down and start writing. For some reason, I tend to lean more toward YA - probably because I'm such a goofball kid myself - though I've seriously been toying with starting something more "adult". My current WIP (tentatively titled Generation Z) might work for adults, though in my mind it's totally YA. Like I mentioned earlier, the idea stemmed from my sister's pregnancy, and the idea of birth in general and what it means to our future as human beings. And putting that kind of weight on the shoulders of a teenager seemed the best way to present it.
ANNE: Oh, I can totally relate to your writing preference. Most of my stuff is YA, too. Is it because I prefer these books myself? Me thinks so. It's so easy to identify with characters that can blame their age for screwing up (something I'm not supposed to do anymore since I'm officially old). And there's something about living everything for the first time. So intense.
JAMIE: I agree with you on the reason behind why I write YA. I think, too, that it's because those are the books I love to read. I love that characters in YA are able to push all their bad choices behind the veil of "but I'm a kid, I'm supposed to screw up!". Those first-time experiences (first kiss, first love, first loss) make for some great storytelling.
It's amazing that you've been working on Rebel for 7 years! Wow, that's quite a commitment. I had a few stories years ago that I played around with for a while and then gave up because the ideas just wouldn't flesh out. What made you stick with Rebel, even through all its changes?
ANNE: Hmm. Rebel. Why did I never give up on it? Because it's a story I need to tell. Because I always knew it had potential and by going at it, I'd pull through. Writing is a craft, you learn along. Seven years ago, my work sucked eggs. Plus, I have a hard time letting go unless it's perfect. I'm like that with my short stories, too. And most of the scripts I wrote over the years are my to-be-WIP. Head-strong, determined and slightly mad - that's me.
Tell me, how did you discover the joy of writing? Were you the kid who grew up writing journals? Was it a book that changed your career path?
JAMIE: I'm a bit of a perfectionist, too, but I think in a bad way. I'm so focused on the formatting of the manuscript being correct, or that every word is spelled correctly, that I lose focus on the story. Therefore, I tend to run into problems with flat characters or lackluster story arcs. So needless to say my rewriting is hell!
I discovered a love of writing through reading. I've always been an avid reader (my mom bought me a membership to the Stephen King Library when I was 12), and when I was a young teen I tried my hand at writing. Even then, I wrote for children (it was a picture book for little kids, not YA), but I never considered it to be a serious career choice.
And once I graduated high school and went into college with a nifty little creative writing scholarship that I won, something in me changed. I focused more on getting a job to support myself than I did on my writing. And that joy became lost…until a couple of years ago when I picked up a little book called Twilight (I know, I know). To some, Twilight is a compilation of less-than-mediocre writing and even worse storytelling, but for me it re-opened my mind to what I loved about writing: hooking a reader with nothing more than my words and not letting them go. So here I am.
Where do you find that head-strong determination, Anne? Born that way, or is it something you learned? And can you give me a little?!
ANNE: Here, I'm giving you a tiny bit :)
Born that way, which can be a bad thing, too. A crush on a bad boy will turn into heartbreak (because I must conquer) and Rebel will be published (which makes me a hermit since I'm always writing.) So sad, I'm a heartbroken hermit. Awwww .
Final words of wisdom, Jamie Manning?
JAMIE: There's a quote that I often recite in my mind when I get frustrated with my writing or myself that I'd like to leave you with. Maybe the next time you get stuck and can't understand why something in your manuscript isn't working, it will help you:
"Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do, and die." ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
ANNE: Couldn’t say it better myself.
Anne Michaud blogs about her novel-in-progress Rebel's main character Livy Parker through some really creative journal entries. Please, go visit her blog, and thanks for stopping by today.
AND HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!