My Writing Process - Answers to four questions
I've been tagged by Peter Andrews, brilliant writer of YA, sci-fi, and blogger, to participate in a blog hop on the writing process. I have four questions to answer, and then I have to tag two authors to do the same. This is actually harder to do than it looks, but here goes.
1. What are you working on?
My first published book was an academic study of the films of the first woman filmmaker, entitled Alice Guy Blaché: Lost Visionary of the Cinema. That came out in 2002, and I've been lecturing about her ever since. Talking to people at those lectures showed me that many of my listeners were more interested in Alice's life, they wanted to know more about her as a role model. So now I'm writing a novelized biography called Inventing the Movies.
My first novel, a YA historical entitled The Saffron Crocus, is about to be published. Saffron Crocus is the story of a wannabee opera singer in 1643 Venice—when opera was born— who has to solve a murder mystery before she can get on with her singing career. I'm now writing a sequel to it, featuring one of the characters from Saffron Crocus in a new adventure, tentatively titled The Circassian Slave.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I have a Ph.D. in Film Studies. Early cinematic technologies always fascinated me. So I'm enjoying writing Inventing the Movies, the story of a woman who supported her family all her life in a business that to this day is pretty much the providence of men, and managed to express herself artistically at the same time.
My historical YA novels are throwbacks to books many of us loved as children, like The Witch of Blackbird Pond or The Door in the Wall. I was inspired by what Michael Chabon did with Gentlemen of the Road. I wanted to bring back those stories of action and derring-do for young people, but books that are as historically accurate as possible.
3.) Why do you write what you do?
Most of my adult life has been dedicated to rescuing Alice Guy Blache from oblivion. I spent ten years looking for her films and helped add about forty of them to the 135 surviving films we now have—out of over 1000 films she made. Alice should be a household name, like Madame Curie. She basically established the filmic storytelling format we still use today. There is an on-going active battle to suppress her from history. She was French and half of her career took place in France, but the French Academy as a whole seems determined to eliminate her from the public record. She is more celebrated in the US, where the second half of her career took place, but there are also scholars here who do their best to minimize her accomplishments. So for me, writing Inventing the Movies is a kind of crusade.
I write YA because I think in my heart I will always be fifteen, always ready for the next adventure. As a documentary filmmaker I worked in places like the jungles of Cambodia and the favelas of Brazil. Exploring other historical eras is also an adventure. I grew up in Spain and one of my favorite places was a Roman villa that was being excavated near my home. History seemed very real and close. There is something about the texture of historicals that is endlessly appealing to me.
4.) How does your writing process work?
I have two main "writing shifts." Six or seven days a week I get up at 5 am and write until 9:30 am. The morning shift is when the first draft writing gets done. I'm trying to raise my word count, but right now I average between 500 and 1200 words. Writing historicals is slow, because I have to keep stopping to check up on a historical detail. I can't move forward unless I know it's accurate. Right now I mostly work on Inventing the Movies in the morning. I work this morning shift seven days a week, unless there is a special event that takes me out of the house early.
Five days a week I also have an afternoon shift, from about 1 pm to 6 pm. Right now in the afternoon shift I try to add at least 500 words to The Circassian Slave, because I'm working towards a deadline. Afternoon is also the time for writing related chores: outlining new work, writing blogs, answering emails, updating my Quickbooks. I'm still a filmmaker, so the afternoons can also be dedicated to a scene from a screenplay or editing a scene for my next documentary. If my husband is busy in the evening I'll do a third shift, go back to work after dinner.
I'm passing the baton to two writer friends whose fiction I admire.
Diana Muñoz Stewart
Diana Muñoz Stewart is an award-winning writer, editor, and blogger. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Rowan University and a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. In addition to her creative writing and editorial work, she runs her own company providing web content nationally for websites, including multiple blogs on health, writing, and family. She is a member of Editorial Freelancers Association, RWA, and SCBWI. Her blog is here.