My Writing Process These Days

Thanks to Joshunda Saunders for inviting me to participate in this blog tour! Joshunda is one of the most insightful and prolific writers I’ve had the good fortune to meet, read, and commiserate with in the past two years. You can check out her terrific blog, including her own reflections on process, right here.

1. What are you working on?

Two and a half years ago, I started working on an an essay collection about public performances of violence in America. As I began, I thought that the section about the 1966 clock tower shooting at UT Austin would be the first chapter, alongside nine other chapters including San Diego, Waco, and Tucson. What I’ve discovered is that the UT Austin research and writing has demanded a space of its own. I’m almost finished with a stand-alone triptych about that event. It’s 12o pages or so: two lyric essays at beginning and end, with a centerpiece of narrative reportage/investigative journalism. I haven’t abandoned the larger project, but it was important to recognize and respect the full weight of the box inside the box.

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The Next Big Thing

Thanks to Donna Hilbert author of the new poetry collection The Congress of Luminous Bodies (Aortic Books) for tagging me in THE NEXT BIG THING

What is the title or working title of your book?

Tripwires and Trigger Fingers.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

For my first book, Teacher at Point Blank, I explored about how we can work and live under bizarre, unhealthy conditions that encourage a certain amount of denial. As I was waiting for the book to be published, I had to keep revising the last chapter because it began with a litany of rampage shootings at schools, and for about five years I had to keep adding names and dates to the list. It was a hideous feeling. It’s still true that every time a drastic event happens, we tend to treat it like something from Mars. But there I was, facing that list in my book. I wanted to examine that phenomenon of denial on a larger American scale, connecting different public performances of “mass violence” we have buried or forgotten about–starting with UT Austin in 1966. 

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Writer Ninja Podcast Episode 8: Starting from Scratch

What have you made from scratch lately–whether it’s something to eat, wear, use at home, or give away? We may live in a world that often feels prefabbed, but there are plenty of opportunities for us to contribute pieces of ourselves to make things better or more interesting. Tune in to the Writer Ninja Podcast, available on iTunes and on this site. Then post your ideas in the comments section below!

Also listen to Jo’s interview with four smart writer-editor-artist people–John Brantingham, Ann Brantingham, Elder Zamora, and Scott Creley–who came together to organize The San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival from the ground up.

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Writer Ninja Podcast Episode 7: Boundary Crossing

You may have missed Stephanie Barbé Hammer’s fabulous reading from Sex with Buildings (Dancing Girl Press) at Riverside Arts Walk September 6, but it’s never too late to visit her website, Magically Real.

Also catch our chat about genre bending and blending on the latest Writer Ninja Podcast, available on iTunes and on this site.

Recommended books from this episode include:

Short Takes, edited by Judith Kitchen

Flash Fiction Forward, edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas

Book Recommendations: Writer Ninja Ep 4 and 5

Looking for the perfect blend of literature and community? Visit the San Gabriel Valley Litfest, coming in 2013.

Meanwhile, as promised, here are links to the most recent books recommended on the latest episodes of Writer Ninja Podcast. Check them out!

From Episode Four, “Mothers and the Others”

Bearing Life: Women’s Writing on Childlessness, edited by Rochelle Ratner

The Mommy Myth, by Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels

Misconceptions, by Naomi Wolf

From Episode Five, “The Gift of Consent”

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Writer Ninja Podcast Episode Five

Episode Five, “The Gift of Consent,” now available on iTunes and on this site. Jo asks for your thoughts on how important consent is to any authentic learning experience, both inside and outside traditional learning situations. She also interviews writer John Brantingham, author of East of Los Angeles (a poetry collection), and professor extraordinaire of English and Creative Writing at Mount San Antonio College.

Brantingham is also the current coordinator for the San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, planned for Winter 2013.

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Writer Ninja Podcast Episode Four

Writer Ninja Podcast Episode Four

Episode Four, “Mothers and the Others, ” now available on iTunes and on this site.

What does a happily married woman with no kids have in common with a happily married mother of three–who’s now expecting her fourth child? More than you might think. Drop your stereotypes and listen as Jo chats with Lindsey Frandsen, founder of Thinking Moms in Riverside, California.

Creative Tools–from Barry Michels and Phil Stutz

As promised on Writer Ninja Podcast Episode Three, here’s a thought-provoking set of insightful tools for thinking about that “block” you keep having. Maybe you’re clinging to it! Let go!

The toolkit appeared online in early 2011 in the New Yorker. Therapists Michels and Stutz have been getting a lot of media play recently for their work with helping creative folks get back on the wagon of writing/producing/acting/developing.

Thank you to John Cusack for the great Twitter tip-off!

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You know you’re on the Z-List when…

Working writers and artists share their commiserations about life on the Z-list.  Jo sent out a call for funny, snarky, and sometimes sad stories.

Each contributor finished this sentence: You know you’re on the Z-list when…

Susan Straight‘s latest novel is Take One Candle Light a Room. “When you finish your reading at the ________ Public Library and find out your overnight accommodations are in the librarian’s house, in the bedroom of her son gone off to college, and the wallpaper has baseballs and bats, which make you miss having a brother.”

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Writer Ninja Podcast Episode Three

What music, art, or artists inspire you as a writer? as a thinker? as a human being? Who–or what–gets your imagination unstuck?

What is the “Z-list” (whatever your field of expertise!)–and how can you claim your zen there?

Check out Epidode Three of the Writer Ninja Podcast on iTunes or here at the site.

Jo shares some of her creative influences–with a special thank you to John Cusack–and invites you to name your own names. You’ll also hear Jo talk about the Z-List with author and publisher Chiwan Choi and share info about a great tool kit from creativity gurus Barry Michels and Phil Stutz.

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