(because we just got chicks and they are cute)

(because we just got chicks and they are cute)

When you get an email from the amazing Audrey Chin, and she asks if you’ll participate in a blog tour with her, well, you just say yes.

Audrey is a great writer and a dear online friend. She’s one of the reasons I love the internet. One day I hope to meet her in person and have her sign a copy of her most recent book, As the Heart Bones Break. Among many accolades, my Singaporean friend was honoured this spring at a reception hosted by the Singapore Embassy in Washington, D.C., as part of her U.S.A. book launch tour.

Audrey shares some thoughts about her writing process here, on her blog Sometimes Words Help. She’s got some cool stuff on the go over there.

I, on the other hand, am about the least cool person I know. I am a vicious non-joiner of things. I don’t easily participate in groups, especially groups that rally around a specific ideology or theology or popular issue-of-the-day. I’m not saying that with pride, mind. I’m sure it’s a trait that has kept me from some awesome sorority-like experiences. And one day, when I’m asking you to participate in something about which I am passionate, you can throw my words back at me and I won’t be upset at all.

Because not only am I a non-joiner, I’m wishy-washy and inconsistent and unorganized and almost always late. Put all that together, and you can imagine my struggle with stringing some words together about writing process for a GROUP project, for heaven’s sake. Process? What’s that? And you want it when? Honestly, there are many many people who are much much better at this than am I. And they have better grammar and know when to use commas and stuff, too.

Are you sensing my resistance?

I’m thanking Audrey now, though. Like most things that take you down a path you might not choose, it’s caused me to think about some things on which I haven’t spent much noggin-time. Because basically, my writing process involves throwing words up on my computer screen and hitting the publish key. Sometimes the words hit a chord with readers, and sometimes they don’t. Once in a while, I’ve regretted them. Occasionally, I’ve been misunderstood or misread. Usually, when I read those words later, I think a little editing would have been a good idea. But I keep writing them, and this blog tour exercise has made me consider why?

There are three questions the tour has asked me to answer. Here we go:

1. What am I working on?

Honestly, I’m working on very little at the moment. I’m trying to get some words on the blog at least once or twice a week. I get this weird, unfulfilled kind of feeling when I’m not writing. Blogging has become a kind of spiritual discipline for me and when I’m not doing it, I think I lose a bit of my grounding.

I do have some things I’ve begun and hope to finish, though, when life settles just a wee bit. (I know, when will that happen?) I’ve got a couple of books in the works, non-fiction stuff about home and life and such, and a few other ideas noted on my phone in a folder called – wait for it – Ideas.

2. Why do I write what I do?

Writing is a weird personal/public intersection, where self-examined meets self-exposed. I blog about myself, my family, my faith, and how all those things work (or don’t work) in the spaces in which I live. For better or for worse, I don’t self-censor much. It’s been important for me to write as honestly and transparently as possible, without totally freaking out my family or my readers. Sometimes, I imagine I’ve crossed the line, and I’m sure there have been times I’ve held back. But the working it all out, from internal thought to external words, has been the most revealing and growing experience of my adult life. And I’ve stuck with it now for about five years, which says a lot about how important it is to me.

The other stuff I’m working on, well, that’s a little different. It’s not so much train-of-thought or what-happened-to-me-today-at-the-grocery-store kind of writing. It’s about chapters and flow and actually saying something. So, yeah.

3. How does my writing process work?

Kinda covered this already, in that, basically, I don’t have much of one. Blogging involves coffee and a few minutes alone in the morning and a random thought or maybe photo that generates a few other thoughts which then fly from fingers to the screen. Add a bit of formatting or what have you, and hit publish. Ar least hat’s what I thought when I first considered this whole process thing, because I’ve been blogging for a long time and that’s my routine. I don’t think about it a whole lot.

When I did give it some thought, though, I realized I blog all day long in my head, as things happen or the kids say funny things or I read something on the internet. I stumble over these little bits of life and I think, I’d like to write about that.

In the past, I’d stand a good chance of forgetting the moment and when I’d sit down at the computer, the memory would be gone? Now, I try to jot a bit of a note down in my phone in a folder called – wait for it – blog ideas. Surprisingly, writing things down helps me remember them.

If I could give a new blogger one piece of advice, this would be it. Write the idea down when you have it, because you won’t remember it later.

Honestly, my phone has revolutionized my blogging, and I’m only half kidding about that. The ability to quickly make a note about random life events has been huge, but the ability to snap a photo has been, maybe, huge-er. The random pictures I take throughout the day are memory-joggers and inspiration-makers when it comes to sitting down at my desk and facing a blank screen.

So, that’s how it goes for me. I observe as I live, I try to take notes or photos of it all because of my terrible memory, and I sit down with a cup of coffee as often as I can and write a few words about it. And when those words touch another’s heart, well, that’s just about the most amazing thing in the world.

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As part of the blog tour rules, I was to find three other bloggers who would participate and write their own process stories to share. I found two who were willing to give this a go, but these women will be more than up to the challenge, I assure you.

Fay Spencer is another internet friend. We found each other through our blogs, and I love her to pieces. I know all about her kids, Amy and Jake, and her husband, Dan, and their lives in the United Kingdom. She loves to travel and knit and is generally the crafty sort of momma I always wished I was. She’s not been blogging quite as often of late, but when she does it’s a treat to read her words over at A Diary of Me.

I’ve known Trinda Jocelyn for a while, in the way you know people you bump into from time to time, but recently I’ve been awakened to the treasure of her and her writing. She’s a younger mom than I, and her creativity and artistic talent astound me. She’s one of those people who just knows how to make things beautiful. She’s raising a houseful of kids with her husband, Adam, and I’ve come to appreciate her honesty about her journey as a woman and a parent as she writes on her blog, My State of Mind.

Fay and Trinda will write about their own processes within the next week or so. Stop in from time to time and check them out. You’ll be glad you did.

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I don’t write about writing much. I don’t know that much about writing, to be honest. And I kind of find the blogs and such about writing a bit … boring. It seems they are mostly written by those who have written something as a way of finding those who want to write something and convincing them to buy their next book or sign up for their next workshop on how to write something.

They talk a lot about fear and shipping your work and platform, and then, after a while, they start to talk about how tired they are of talking about it all because the art has lost itself along the way or the fun has gone out of it in all the marketing of it, and how they are going to take a social media break because they have a life to lead after all don’t you know, but they’ll be back in three weeks or two months or whatever, and please don’t forget about them while they’re gone. This is supposed to be a Very Brave Thing To Do, because they might after all get forgotten, because we know how fickle the masses are. (The masses being us.)

When I was in the eighth grade, I wrote a story called Hammy the Hamster. I wish I still had it but I hardly keep anything. I’m sure I tossed it or lost it somewhere along the way, but I remember the feeling of having my teacher read it out loud to the class, and comment on its style and creativity and great use of dialogue. This is really good, she said to the class, and after she stopped me and said something like, I hope you keep writing.

I didn’t, not really. And then a few years ago I decided to take back my joy, and I started fooling around with it. I began with a family newsletter, which I mailed to relatives and those who loved me too much to tell me to quit sending it to them. Then blogging hit the scene, and I hit the keyboard, and I wrote bad stuff (just look back in the archives and you’ll see what I mean) about my family and my life. And the relatives and those who loved me too much to tell me to quit writing still read what I wrote, bless them.

I’m saying all this because recently a friend asked me to write about my writing process, as part of a shared writing experience. She’ll write about her process and then I and a few others will write about our processes, and then I’ll ask a few friends to write about their processes.

So here I am, processing my process. Sorry.

Because next week I have to write about writing, and I don’t have a clue what to say.