First Guest Blog Post Interview:
Inside the Mind of the Author
by Lindsey Pogue
I’ve always had a passion for storytelling and delving into a world that’s so completely different from my own. Like most kids, I created books and wrote fantastical stories in my youth. I continued researching and writing about past cultures in my academia, along with developing new worlds in which made-up characters live and breathe into my adulthood. Despite my passion for writing, I’ve allowed myself to be detoured in the past, both by my unrealistic expectations and by unreachable standards that I’ve set for myself. It’s only now, after working on this project with Lindsey Fairleigh (LF), that I understand myself better as a writer and as an author. I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t, and I can go into book two of The Ending Series, Into The Fire, with more ease.
Co-authoring After The Ending has taught me how important it is to really identify how I work best as a writer so I can continue to be productive and creative to the best of my ability...and so I can keep what remaining sanity I have intact. My brain works very differently than LF’s, and because we work so closely together, it’s imperative that we appreciate how different our writing processes are, both for our separate story lines and POV’s and also when we’re working on combined chapters. That being said, looking back at book one, I notice two very important characteristics about myself and my writing style that I’m so grateful to finally understand.
First, I have come to terms with the fact that I’m not omniscient. I never have been, nor will I ever be. Obvious? Sure, but it’s also hard to remember when you’re the creator of something. By consciously acknowledging my lack of omniscience, I am giving myself permission to loosen the reins and let the characters write for themselves. While I am a planner in life, that is not the case in writing. No matter how many details and story arcs I devise in my head and outline on paper, things always change--characters have a way of commandeering the story, no matter what my intentions might be. That being said, if I don’t have my characters completely solidified in my mind before I start writing, that’s okay. I know some authors see the entire story in their mind, but I see bits and pieces, or what I call the “good stuff”. I’m learning how to accept the fact that I can get the “good stuff” down and fill in the holes as I go...especially since the story inevitably writes itself and generally unfolds into something more amazing than what I had planned in the first place.
Second, I’ve learned which type of writer I am--a “revisionist” so to speak. I have to remind myself there is no rule that says you can only revise four times, and if there is, I’m pretending it doesn’t exist. I need to revise A LOT. My inspiration to write comes in spurts. So, instead of getting frustrated with my brain for vomiting ideas incoherently and out of order, I’m learning to embrace the spewage—to get the ideas down to flesh out later. Nothing will ever be or even has to be perfect the first time around. I learn about and discover my characters as I go, and I don’t have a plethora of interconnected details and ideas that just flow out of my mind and onto the page, resulting in an almost complete manuscript that just needs some tweaking. Instead, I write down the “good stuff” and build around it. I write a chapter, then walk away…come back to it…read and revise…walk away…and read and revise another five times before I even feel comfortable passing it on to LF. I think this is where she and I differ in our writing processes. She tends to have very fluid thoughts and ideas and gets them down eloquently, whereas my ideas are always jumbled in my head.
Going into this project, I pressured myself to have my characters ironed out in my mind—the details, the obstacles they’d face, the love triangles they’d get mixed up in—but this is one instance in my life where planning isn’t so helpful. In fact, it’s more of a hindrance to my creativity, and it’s a relief to know I’ve discovered how my mind works so, as we work on book two, I can allow myself the space to be inspired and creative with no restraint. When inspiration flows, when my thoughts and ideas meld together and the characters come to life, that’s when the best ideas make it onto the page. I love “the zone”.
So, now that we are finished with AE, I’m able to take a step back and appreciate what we’ve accomplished, but I’m also able to reflect on how we’ve gotten to where we are and how to have fun and grow as a writer. I’ve been able to recognize what the writing process looks like for me, allowing me to set realistic standards for myself and to be more productive, lose some of the added stress, and have some fun.