Monday, February 11, 2008

The Writing Meme

I first saw this one over at Charlotte's.

What’s the last thing you wrote?

(I'm assuming besides this blog post.) I revised the prologue and wrote the first few pages of a new novel.

Was it any good?

I’m very happy with the prologue, but I can see I’m going to have to work very hard on the rest.

What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?

A little illustrated book called A Bear Called Teddy written on a beach vacation when I was seven years old.

Write poetry?

When I was in high school and college, and occasionally I’d “re-write” famous poems or limericks as notes to other colleagues who did the same at my former company. (I wrote a particularly good one once based on William Carlos Williams about eating a friend’s crackers when I got hungry, and he was out of the office). Does that count?

Angsty poetry?

Is there anything else that high school and college kids write?

Favourite genre of writing?

I like to write ghost stories and humorous stories, as well as blog posts.

Most fun character you’ve ever created?

I was writing a novel a few years back in which the main protagonist had a gay friend, and I think I adored him. He was just so human and was probably my alter-ego.

Most annoying character you’ve ever created?

The guy who dumped the woman in that aforementioned novel. I think I put every single ex-boyfriend I’d ever had into that one character, which wasn’t pretty.

Best plot you’ve ever created?

Am I the only one who always thinks that the one that’s in my head and driving me crazy right now has got to be the best? It’s the aforementioned novel, which I hadn’t planned on writing, but which seems to be insisting on my doing so. I’m not going to reveal the plot right now, but when it’s done, anyone who would like may read it. Mind you, it might take me ten years or so at the rate I’m going.

Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?

I think all my ghost story plot twists are really cool. It’s hard to choose just one.

How often do you get writer’s block?

I don’t. I have to write in order to stay sane. I do, however, get writer’s block with certain pieces, but I just go on to writing something else (usually blog posts these days), and then I can come back without much difficulty.

Write fan fiction?

Now that I know what that is, yes. As a matter of fact, I seem always to have ideas for fan fiction. Like: wouldn’t it be cool to read about Scarlett O’Hara’s great-great-great-great-great (or however many greats is would be) granddaughter?

Do you type or write by hand?

Both. I like to get first drafts down by hand, but I’ve been known to start with the computer on some things. Writing by hand is so much more portable and convenient, though.

Do you save everything you write?

Unfortunately, no. Sometimes I wish I had, but when I really hate things, I tend to get rid of them (which I seem to have done a lot when I was in my teens).

Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?

Sometimes, but not very often. Usually if I’ve abandoned something, it’s because I’ve gotten bored with it and can’t find a way to re-excite myself.

What’s your favourite thing you’ve written?

That changes constantly. However, I think right now it's that blog post I wrote in which I went down my blog roll and noted why each blog makes my day. It wasn't brilliant writing, but it was a wonderful writing exercise, so much fun and it made me think about what makes stuff worth reading, which can only help my writing.

What’s everyone else’s favourite story that you’ve written?

One I wrote about a haunted crossword puzzle.

Do you ever show people your work?

Yep. All of my blog posts are out here for the whole world to read. I even started posting some of my ghost stories the past couple of years. And select friends get to read and edit other stuff I write.

Did you ever write a novel?

I’ve started them plenty of times, but the only one I ever actually completed was written when I was twelve years old, and (dammit!) has managed to disappear. I know I didn’t throw it out, but it just got lost somewhere over the years. It was a hugely-plagiarized-from-Elizabeth-Enright-and-E.-Nesbit story about a family of four kids and their adventures. (Talk about fan fiction! But that’s the way children should begin, I think.)

Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?


What’s your favourite setting for your characters?

Places I know: North Carolina, Virginia, England, Connecticut, New York. I’m sure Pennsylvania will soon begin to filter in.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?

Is the blog a writing project? If not, two: ghost stories and this new novel. I’ve got a children’s book idea floating around, too, but it’s going to take a lot of work.

Do you want to write for a living?

I sort of do, if you consider re-writing manuscripts and basically writing emails all day to be writing. However, if the question really means publishing my original material for a living, then nope. That’s way too much pressure. I just write, as I say, because I seem to have a need to do so. Now, if someone were suddenly to come along and say, “I’ll pay you your current salary every year to keep your blog going,” that might be a different story.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Does the fourth-place prize in a high school creative writing contest count?

Ever written anything in script or play format?

For a creative writing class, but not by choice.

What are your five favourite words?

Acclimate, fabulous, wicked, surreal, and chocolate (does that one really count? I mean, I can’t write it and stay focused on the word)

Do you ever write based on yourself?

All the time. I don’t know how else I could write, because I’ve only ever experienced the world through myself and my reactions to it.

What character have you created that is most like yourself?

Any character who is scared to death in haunted settings.

Where do you get ideas for your characters?

Reading and observing those around me.

Do you ever write based on your dreams?

Yes, I seem to derive many of my ghost stories from dreams, indirectly, of course.

Do you favour happy endings, sad endings or cliff-hangers?

I favor surprise endings.

Have you ever written based on an artwork you’ve seen?


Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Yes, especially since I’m not a very good speller. However, I am more and more aware of the fact that when I’m a writer, I’m a writer, and those things are up to a good editor, which is why, if I were ever to have anything published, I’d run it by some of my excellent editor friends before submitting it (even knowing the publisher would have an editor. I wouldn’t trust that editor as much as I trust the ones I know).

Ever write anything in chatspeak (how r u?)

No. I hate that.

Entirely in L337?

Don’t know what that is.

Was that question appalling and unwriterly?

Only in as much as I find it appalling that someone would include a question about something that obviously isn’t in the common vernacular.

Does music help you write?

Absolutely. I love to have music playing when I write.

Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.

“I don’t believe anything I read except fiction.” I write (and say) that all the time.

I'm tagging any writer out there who wants to take a whirl at this one (if you have a blog, you're a writer, you know). It's fun.


ZoesMom said...

This is a great meme! I really enjoyed your answers and I would love to read some of your ghost stories. The haunted crossword sounds quite interesting.

I'll take on this meme soon.

Welcome back!

Litlove said...

I've really enjoyed reading the answers to this meme, Emily. Call me backward, but I don't think I fully realised until now how much fiction you write. But okay, now I'm up to speed!

Emily Barton said...

ZM, I've posted a couple of my ghost stories at Things That Go Bump in the Night (on my blog roll). And you're in luck. I plan to revisit The crossword puzzle story and change it according to some suggestions from others, so I'll send it on to you when I'm done (just don't expect it imminently).

Litlove, I don't really write that much fiction. This post just makes it sound like I do.

Dorothy W. said...

What IS L337? Maybe I'll have to look it up. Anyway, fun meme, and I enjoyed reading your answers. It's sounds great that you've got a new novel going, and that it's going well. Have fun writing it!

Danny said...

Ooh, I was excited to read that you're starting a new novel (and that you do let other people read your writing since I'd LOVE to read your novel!). I've been toying with the the idea of starting one myself but I'm fairly clueless when it comes to fiction. On the other hand, most of the nonfiction I write is a pack of lies so maybe I could make the transition!

Since we do the same kind of editing work in our day jobs, tell me how you find the time (and energy) to work on a novel, I'm still trying to figure that one out!

Emily Barton said...

Danny, it's funny: people describe me as having energy, and I think of myself as a total slug. The novel gets ignored, basically, except on weekends. Oh, and I don't do things like clean the house unless I absolutely have to (i.e. guests are coming), which gives me plenty of energy for reading and writing.

I bet you could write a FANTASTIC novel. You should think about it.