We're All Damaged

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Anti-Process

Since selling my first novel, Domestic Violets, and being catapulted into literary obscurity, people have from time to time asked about my writing process. Whenever this happens, I’m faced with a moral dilemma.  Do I lie and say something intellectual, or do I, against my better judgment, tell the truth.

Over the last five years, I’ve managed to get a full-time job, a full-time wife, and a full-time daughter.  And so my process is, admittedly, less than regimented. 

I sit down in my little office upstairs and read CNN.com and tell myself that it’s important for a writer to be informed. If my daughter is asleep, I look at the tiny video monitor on my desk that allows me to watch a black and white version of her hugging her stuffed animals. I spend about 20 minutes wondering how my generation survived without our parents having the ability to stare at us electronically while we slept.

Next, I find a good station on Pandora and check my email. And then I check Facebook. And then I check Twitter. Then I hit CNN.com again, just in case the world has ended in the last few minutes.

I’m usually pretty thirsty by then, so I go downstairs into the kitchen for a Diet Dr Pepper.  If I see my dog along the way, I check in and see how his day’s going.  And then, with a full soda, I locate my wife. We chat for a bit about nothing in particular until she reminds me that I’m supposed to be writing. 

“Umm, that’s what I’m doing,” I tell her.

Back upstairs, I open my Word document and read over whatever I’d managed to accomplish the day before.  I spend about 30 minutes being appalled by how bad it is. I make it better by moving the sentences around and changing all of the semi-colons to commas.  Then I consider the ramifications of growing a beard.  My wife would hate it, but I think it would make me look edgier. 

Finally, when all of those things are done, and when I can’t think of anything else that needs to be done, I write a sentence.  Then I delete it and write it again.  And then I write a paragraph.  And then I write maybe one or two more.  And then I read them aloud all at once, and they sound really good.  I like the flow and how they look on my screen.  They’re definitely missing semi-colons, though, and so I go back in and add some of those.

And then I go on Facebook and tell all my friends not to bother me because I’m writing.



  1. Hilarious. And crazy-similar to my process. :)

  2. Haha.I like it, no pressure really :D

  3. 21K page visits. Well done Mr. Norman, well done!

  4. Hahaha! I love this. I'm assuming this is all done in a pair of pajama pants and a half eaten bag of chips on the side.

  5. Thanks for sharing. That makes me feel better about my own meandering writing process.

  6. Hilarious. This would be me. Except I go to HuffPo instead of CNN.com.

  7. loved Domestic Violets... more blog posts please!