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.