If you dropped in on this blog last November, you would know that Karen Yankosky (www.splatospheric.com) became a critical part of my life last year after nurturing me back to good health after a major surgery. But more importantly, long before that, she helped me become a writer. We have blogged daily together, written daily word prompt writings together, attended writing conferences together, helped each other think of the right word that was stuck in our heads, and have been cheerleaders for each other. So now we blog tour together. I answer the blog tour questions that she answered last week and then pass them on to Sonia Chintha (http://dream2write.wordpress.com), a writing pal of Karen’s who teaches middle school yet still finds time to write poetry and young adult fiction, and Paulette Beete (www.thehomebeete.com), one of the most beautiful writers I have ever read. She’s a poet and her prose is poetic. I heart her as a writer and as a person.
1. What are you working on?
I am working on two projects simultaneously. I have a feeling they’re going to meld together at some point down the road though they seem vastly different from each other.
The first project is a memoir that recounts my mother’s family’s escape from North Vietnam to the south in 1954 when the communists took over and began torturing anyone with money and education. Our family lost everything and rebuilt their lives only to have lost everything again in 1975 when the communists then overtook the south. This time, they went to America and rebuilt their lives in a foreign land. They were ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances and survived and thrived.
The second project recounts the magical and shitty time that was the last seven months of battling breast cancer. Somehow, I think the resilience and resourcefulness that defined my family also helped me get through this disease with my sense of optimism and passion for life still intact. Amazing, beautiful things happened to me during this time that taught me great lessons about living and loving and human relationships and I want to share those lessons with the world.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
The format of the second project I described will be vastly different from others in its genre. Think “choose your own adventure.” Though I have written in classic prose form, I also wrote about my cancer experience using numerous other methods of communication and I want to bring all those forms together into one place. I’m in the midst of figuring out how to pull all of those bits of writing together into a cohesive and logical format. It’s an incredibly complex web, much like the connectedness between humans.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I feel compelled to create through words and to tell the world a great story.
4. How does your writing process work?
I wish I had a process! I like to read about the writing process of the great writers that I admire because I wish I could find some magical ideas for how to make the words flow effortlessly out of my head. Turns out many of them had their quirks but writing is hard and there is no magic elixir. The one thing they all had in common was that they sat their asses down every day and they wrote. No matter how painful it was.
My biggest distraction is Facebook. So I have downloaded an app called “Self Control” on my computer that lets me block myself from Facebook for periods of time set by me. I usually block myself for two hours at a time and then reward myself by gorging on the newsfeed for 30 minutes. Sadly, this is the only way for me to control my addiction. Once I get settled into what I am trying to write, though, my brain becomes laser focused. Stringing the words together is rarely easy. But always exhilarating once they start forming sentences and paragraphs that make me smile when I reread them.