“My Writing Process Blogtour” June 14th, 2014

Annie Lanzillotto invited me to post about this blog. I’m excited (and late).

1. Who is Annie Lanzillotto to me?  
I met Annie my Fall semester in 2013 at NJCU through my beloved professor and mentor, Edi Giunta. (http://writingandteachingmemoir.wordpress.com/2014/05/18/my-writing-process-blog-tour/) She wanted to introduce me to Annie so we could work together on my Honors Thesis project, but Annie’s energy and new way of tackling writing are what immediately had me drawn to her. I fell in love with Annie’s idea of Action Writing, and of course, with Annie.

I spent many afternoons in Annie’s office, or in the rooms of GSUB with my shoes off and huge rolls of paper covering the walls, floors, or tables. I wrote my heart out, leaned into the paper, smelled the sharpie while Annie played the ukelele or a playlist from her phone. Once she even used a small keyboard for music. Anything to get the creative juices flowing. I was in heaven.

Annies huge heart and booming personality allowed me to feel comfortable and safe when we worked together one on one. We dug deep into the chapters of my memoir, setting goals for the following months. I got to know Annie not only as a teacher, but as a friend and confidante. She is one of the most genuine people that I know.

Thank you for this invitation, Annie, and thank you for making my writing experience turn into something beautiful.


2. What am I working on?
Nothing. After working for two semesters on a seventy-page project, I have decided to take a break. I know that I’ll head back into my memoir when I’m ready. Right now, I just participate in my 100-word groups, or free write in one of my many notebooks. I’m trying (still, after so many years) to develop a steady writing practice. It’s hard work!

3. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
Every writer wants to be authentic. But where does our authenticity come from? Other writers, I’d say. I know that my writing has been shaped by writers such as Louise DeSalvo (Vertigo), Domenica Ruta (With or Without You), and Dorothy Allison (Two or Three Things I Know For Sure). I couldn’t thank them enough. I’m not sure how my work differs because I feel that all work is different. I can tell you this: I try to use one-line paragraphs to my advantage because less is always more. I even love the idea of one-sentence pages that just hit you in the face. The power is in the words, not how many words there are.

I’m still figuring out my signature, what makes me different from other writers. I know that my most prominent aspect of my writing is the change of voice/perspective. I think this is extremely important, especially in memoir. I find myself and my writing changing throughout the long piece that I’ve worked on, and other short pieces as well. It’s so easy for me to notice the different tone and attitude in the writing. When this happens, I know that I’ve succeeded. I’ve come to a place where I would have never been before without the long nights of editing and revising.

4. Why do I write what I do?
Because I need to.

I needed to get my story out. It was literally killing me. I needed to tell the world about my life, my mother’s life, my life with her. It was eating away at me inside. Writing for me is mostly therapeutic. There are the basic structural issues, framing, etc— but without getting all of this out of me, I don’t know if I’d be okay right now. I had this story burning in the back of my throat, and once I started I couldn’t stop regurgitating all my memories and putting them together on a greater scale in order to find meaning.

Other writers have told me that they don’t have anything else to say when they’re working on a project. My problem (or gift) is that I have too much to say. I’m not ever satisfied with the finished product because I feel that I always have something more to say, more to add, more to change or expand.I’m horrible at cutting.

5. How does my writing process work?
Good question. I have no idea.I write, and write, and write. I get all the material down, and then I figure things out with the help of others. I have a bunch of different notebooks in different sizes for poems, notes, edits, and such. My material is all over the place, although I have been trying to organize it in Word documents on my laptop (which is helping). There is so much writing that needs to be typed up and transferred into my computer from these notebooks. I’ll get to it when I get to it.

I’ve been trying, for a long time, to get into a regular writing practice. I write and write in my process journal about wanting to write on a  regular basis, yet it never happens. It hasn’t been working that way, but I think it means something.My bursts of creativity are usually during the wee hours of the morning: I don’t really start working on a project or piece until 1 A.M. Sometimes I stay up for hours, until four or five in the morning. I also work best under pressure. It’s not that I intentionally wait until the last minute to write, but it often happens that way. However, this process isn’t best for just anyone. I’m not sure why it works so well with me. Edits and revisions are a different story. You can’t make your best changes over night. It takes time. But the idea that I have to get something done by a certain time motivates me, even if that certain time is the next day, and I haven’t even started.

Pressure makes diamonds, right?

6. Who is next on the blogtour?
Walter Skinner, Chloe DeFilippis, Alexa Valle. (I’ve asked them, but haven’t heard a response yet. I will edit this post if any changes are made).