Someone once told me that asking questions was a sign of intelligence, so I’ve been asking questions ever since. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Anyway, several intelligent and lovely people have asked me questions about my work. I’ve done my best to answer them. If you have a question, please let me know. I’m a teacher at heart, and love answering questions.
From Shelly Lowenkopf (Check out his book The Fiction Writer’s Handbook.)
You write a great deal about your actual composition in terms of pages or stories written. Will you speak in some detail about your revision process?
I’ve tried many revision methods, and I haven’t found one that I can stick to. I’ve done the start-from-the-beginning-and-edit-through-to-the-end method, but that comes late in the writing process. I often revise at certain points in the writing. When I get to a point in the plot where I’m stuck, I go back over what I have and revise. Often revising gives me ideas or helps clarify things.
I’ve also opened my manuscript in one window on my laptop and a blank document opened in another window. Then I go through and retype the original, editing as I go.
I’ve printed each scene separately and set the scenes all over my living room floor. I label each scene and figure out if they’re really in the correct order. Usually I decide several scenes need to be moved. Once the papers are restacked together, I start typing again.
I’ve given my work to others to read, so I could get their ideas and suggestions–some of which I go with, some of which I don’t.
And plenty of times I’ve been going about the normal, non-writing part of my day–driving, showering, whatnot–and something about the plot zips to mind and I realize something I need to change. As soon as I can get to it, I take out the manuscript and work on that bit.
My revision process isn’t as efficient as it could be.
From writer Irene Gowins-Sowells:
When you’ve completed your manuscript, do you go back and delete anything afraid of what others may think of you?
No. But that’s not to say I don’t stare at the screen and hesitate to write what I want to because I’m afraid of what others may think of me. If I get it on the page, that means I’ve gotten a handle on that fear. It’s getting it on the page in the first place that’s the challenge. But in the end, I’ve never not written what I wanted.
From author Sarah Stockton (See her book A Pen and a Path: Writing as Spiritual Practice):
How do you balance being a mom, a teacher, a wife, and a writer?
I don’t know. I wouldn’t say I balance these roles well. It might be better to say that I’ve come to terms with not being able to do as much as I want. Luckily, my son is becoming more and more independent and I only work until two. I also sacrifice sleep, which I know I shouldn’t do, but I often end up doing anyway.
From Exploding Mary:
I’d ask you, knowing your penchant for fairy tales, what the first really scary thing that happened to you was? And what you most hated doing as a kid.
First really scary thing…hmmm. Well, for many years I had a recurring scary dream of a monster of blue and red flashing lights screaming outside my house. In the dream I find a dark hiding place and my dad goes to fight the monster.
As an adult, I told my dad about this dream that I continued to have. My dad looked at me and said, “Oh, I know why you dreamed about that. That happened when you were about three.”
So, my dad told me about how when I was very little, a police car chase ended in our front yard. Several police cars were on our property with lights flashing, and the guy they were chasing had crashed in another corner of the yard. (We lived on a large piece of property in the boondocks.) Shots were exchanged.
My dad threw me in the hall closet, ordered me to be quiet and not to come out of the closet for anyone but him. He got on his stomach in the living room with the shotgun pointed at the door.
Neither the bad guy nor the police ever came to our door. The police caught their criminal and we were fine. But I suppose since I dreamed about it for years, that would have to be my first scary experience.
And after my dad told me this story, the dream did not return.
Okay, the next question about what I most hated doing as a kid…
My parents divorced when I was four. I generally didn’t mind my father dating (I lived with him, not my mother), I hated it when he would drag me along to family gatherings of his girlfriends’ family. One Christmas Eve I slept on the sofa in a girlfriend’s living room, and I had to open my presents with her kids–who I met that very day. I wanted my dad to find a wife, but this drove me crazy.
From Richard Letts:
The novels that you cut-up for your art: do you still have them, and would you publish them?
Yes! I still have them, and I will publish them if I am able. I would love to publish them.
From Kollette Kee Steiger:
Which authors have most influenced your writing style? Fill in the black: if you loved ____________________, you will love Marta’s book. Is there any personal experience that inspired you to write exactly what you write/wrote?
I can more easily say which authors I love, but I’ll tell you about one author in particular who influenced me. Bonnie Jones Reynolds wrote two novels that I fell in love with as a teenager. The first novel, The Truth about Unicorns, I read twice in one week. I read it once, then flipped back to the front and read it again immediately. In my own novel, the woods are inspired by the woods in Reynolds’ novel. And when I wrote the teenage boy, Paul, in my novel, I had the boy in her novel in my mind.
As for the fill-in-the-blank…that’s tough for me to answer. I’ve had a couple say that if a person like Alice Hoffman, then that person would like my work too. But I don’t want that to sound like I’m saying I write as well as Alice Hoffman. It’s just if you like those kinds of stories, maybe you’d like my stories. Then even though this isn’t a novel, I might also add that if you liked the TV show Twin Peaks, then you might like my novels. Twin Peaks had a huge impact on me and I know that show influenced my own thinking about storytelling.
In regards to personal experience, I’d say it is a collection of personal experiences that have made me the writer I am. It’s the story my father used to tell me of a witch that lived in an abandoned house in a small bit of woods at the end of our road. It’s the impact of my mother’s time in a mental hospital. It’s the time I spent in corners of my grandmother’s house reading fantasy stories for hours at a time.
From Jo Eberhardt:
Which came first, the words or the pictures? Or do you see writing and drawing as two sides to the same coin?
The words come first as far as process goes. I have stacks of manuscripts, and I pick up a page to cut up, and that’s usually when I try to think of an image. Sometimes I have an image in mind and I look through a few pages of manuscript to find the right words. Lately, I’ve been focused on illustrating the children’s books, so I haven’t been making much of my other art. But I’ve always loved art and writing. In my life they are entwined and I couldn’t have one without the other.
Thanks for reading! And if you have a question, leave it in the comments.
5 thoughts on “Questions”
Terribly interesting answers, even to questions that I wouldn’t have asked! And the sotry of the first big scary thing– wow. Scary even now.
Thanks for reading though. And for asking.
I’ve got a TOTALLY UNIMPORTANT question. I think it is.
All of a sudden I’m hearing about an actress/writer/director/the gods know what else named “Lake Bell.” Uh-oh. I assume you’ve been hearing about her, too. Is that going to create any, um, issues for the denizens of Lake Belle and environs???
I know! I know! She was around years ago though. Actually, when I first thought of the name Lake Belle for my town, I googled the name to see what would happen, and she came up. But she was much less known at the time, and I–being partly evil–hoped she’d give up on acting and marry a plastic surgeon or something.
Then I decided to keep my town’s name. There is an actual Lake Belle anyway. I mean, if you’re going to be named Lake, you’re name has got to be the name of a town somewhere.
I certainly hope it is not a problem. Sigh.
This is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night. Like, “Damn it! Now everybody’s gonna think I stole her name just for publicity!” (Never mind that the one obviously, provably came before the other.)
You know I laughed at that “give up on acting and marry a plastic surgeon” line.