Why Do You Write?

This is the question posed by my blogmate, Kate at Maison Bentley Style. It’s part of a blog hop. I could never say no to Kate. She is the big hearted, ever-so-stylish epicenter of my blogging society; our intrepid heroine and our gracious hostess. She is the pre-scandal Lily Bart; the always charismatic Daisy Buchanan; the nobly independent Jo Marsh of my circle.

Why do I write, you ask, Kate?  Well, that’s like asking why one would want to disappear through this little gate…773644_503275776390187_523971152_o

What am I working on now?

Despite weeks lost to my well-documented home search and the attendant broker, mortgage, co-op application misery, I am about two thirds of the way through my second novel. First draft, mind you. And, full disclosure, it doesn’t have a beginning yet, nor have I any idea of the route to take to arrive at the ending. But it’s still an easier journey than home buying in New York City.

I also blog twice a week. I never thought I would be a blogger. Even the ugliness of the word annoyed me. But when my first novel came out last year, I caved to the unanimous advice that I needed a “platform” (another ugly word) and gave it a go. Less than a year later, it has become a rabbit hole I slide down merrily with my petticoats round my ears when the workday is done to join my wonderland friends with their wacky points of view who teach me so much and always have my back. What is that saucy minx Dievca up to? I wonder. Is Lia out and about In Brussels? Hope HappyFace313 is happy. Hey whassup, CampariGirl, do you know if CrazyBagLady did one of her drawings today..?

How does my writing differ?

When I was writing Silk for the Feed Dogs, my aim was to write a novel set in the fashion industry that wasn’t worded for idiots, like so many other novels set in the worlds of magazines, fashion, and beauty. I won’t name names. But those types of novels do make me bristle till my teeth hurt.

In my design career, I had occupied a relatively unique spot  for more than a decade at the upper end of the Italian fashion industry and I knew the experience  would lend a novel authenticity. I had that covered. I just didn’t know if I could write.

So for five years I worked extra hard to make sure I had that side covered too. Umpteen drafts; manuals on writing; analyzing the contents of favorite novels; stalking Zadie Smith…No charges were filed.

When I queried my eventual agent, she admitted she was skeptical reading the synopsis. Turns out my skill does not lie in writing a synopsis. But after reading the manuscript (in three days, bless her) she agreed to represent me. She believed I had achieved what I set out to do: write with depth about the most shallow of industries.

But my second novel has nothing to do with the fashion industry so I am not cushioned by those reassuring guardrails. I am swimming with no water wings (sorry about the double metaphor but maybe take it as symbol that I am twice as insecure about this second one.) At the moment, to be honest, I do not know if my writing differs. But thank you for asking. You’ve probably set me back a good six weeks…

Zadie's encouraging words

Zadie’s encouraging words

Why do I write what I do?

Choosing the subject matter for a novel is a commitment. You’ll be living in that world possibly for five years. It’s harder to relocate from your fictional environs than it is to up sticks and change apartments in New York City––okay, sorry, I’ll stay on point. I stick to the old adage “write what you know”, so no wizards or superheroes for me. I like a touch of  romance but not a love story, a sense of mystery but not a crime, history but viewed from contemporary standpoint. I’ll settle on an idea that allows me to describe. Because I love description. I study photos and images and try to put their beauty into words. I want my writing to be as evocative and transporting as some of the most magical editorials from fashion magazines in which the world’s best photographers, designers and stylists create a compelling narrative without the aid of words.

When I choose blog subject matter, I try to do more than just report, but to write creatively, to work through an opinion. I imagine that I have been commissioned to write small op-ed articles for favorite magazines.

So far the main character in my fiction has always been female although that’s not an absolute, but even a sixteen year old boy would have large traces of me in him. And probably a similar bust size.

Two cards on my bookshelf might well describe my writing process: like Alice trailing James Joyce...

Two cards on my bookshelf might well describe my writing process: like Alice trailing James Joyce…

How does my writing process work?

I rely on many drafts because I get bored with plotting. I need to walk through it many times to shape it. I read somewhere that my process is like wall papering the stairs while the stairs are still being built. I am lovingly pasting a William Morris peacock and dragon repeat onto the wall just three steps below a triumphant example of builder’s crack.

 

The rules of this blog hop state that I must pass the torch on to two others so after much deliberation I choose two talented writers, Yakinamac who blogs under the name Mrs Holder’s Legacy, and Girl in the Hat. Over to you, ladies.

 

My first novel, Silk for the Feed Dogs is available here

 

 

 

 

25 comments

  1. My dear, you are a writer. No, I haven’t read your novel (yet), but your blog posts are enough evidence for me 🙂

  2. Alice trailing James Joyce…love that! Such joy the blog( I hate that word too) world brings. Will now check out your 2 nominees….keep doing what you do…please!

  3. Fantastic reading — thank you for sharing!
    As we both slide down the rabbit hole with our “petticoats” up around our ears, I am actually mimicking a Robert Palmer video with my hair is slicked back, latex is form-fitting dress and red lips which is more aerodynamic therefore I will land on the bottom. But, that is o.k. because I have more padding and can cushion our fall. XO
    FYI….. I am travelling on Holiday in June and I purchased your book to read along the way!

  4. Yep! Out and about in sunny Brussels preparing frantically her trip to NYC for the first time ever! So it’s not about fashion? Good to know, cause I was really curious: would it be a sequel? may be focus on the NY industry? But I didn’t want to ask you, seemed too direct… Always looking forward to reading you Jackie!

    • I think Kat and I lived in each other’s pockets for so long that we needed a break from each other. But who knows, we may reunite in the future. She’s a grand lass 🙂
      You’re coming to NYC? How exciting! You’ll have a packed schedule but let me know if you have time to grab a tea or if I can recommend anything to see or do. Happy packing! x

      • Yesss! I’m as excited as Alice in Wonderland! And overwhelmed by all the to dos and sees – but there is always time for tea… Catch you in one of your favourite writing cafes? And yes, please, insider tips are always welcome 🙂
        My email is: liabxl@gmail.com. Will be in touch. xxx

  5. Oh how I love your turn of phrase! I’m so glad you participated in the Blog Hop. Where else could I ever read ‘I am lovingly pasting a William Morris peacock and dragon repeat onto the wall just three steps below a triumphant example of builder’s crack.’ to describe a process. If that ain’t the best description of writing style I’ve ever read…
    I’m going to practice writing descriptions of what I see…it’s wonderful advice. Lets see…my marmalade cat is lying next to me, sleeping on a fuzzy, mint green blanket while I watch the Rangers beat the Canadiens. How to describe that? My orange cat clashes horribly with the mint green blanket he’s sleeping on. Looking at it makes my teeth hurt. In a nutshell.

    • I like it! The clashing cat causes gnashing teeth 🙂
      Glad I participated too, Laura. It was a lot of fun to take stock. It was like giving myself a retuning.
      Hope you’re continuing to write. You’re a natural. Maybe this forced period of stillness will allow you to sit, watch, observe, record. Then we get to enjoy it!
      XO!

  6. Entering your creative process is such a great read ! XO

  7. Do people really buy in New York!?

    I love your writing and am looking forward to reading your book. I am so glad that it does not come across as typical chik lit. I love history and fashion, but not silly bimbos in heels. Most real women are smart. Your writing shows that you are also.

    • A very valid question. These two people are attempting it, for better or worse 🙂
      Thank you and I hope my writing does not disappoint. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as my mum used to say…

  8. Looking forward reading your post. 😀

  9. Those five years worked, then – you seem to have picked up a thing or two about writing. It’s always a pleasure to read your words. You’re a touch mysterious about your next project but then it’s part of the charm 🙂 .

    • Thanks Miss Joy!
      I am a touch mysterious. I always liken the beginnings of a novel to a jar of coffee. If you take the lid off, it loses it’s lovely smell. I don’t want to risk it! 🙂

  10. Oh Jackie you inspire me so!! I just loved reading this post and getting to learn more about your process and passion. You are a treasure. I smiled all the way through! 🙂

    And I love your opening about Kate!! Brilliant and kind and so, so true.

    Peace, love ~ Allison

  11. For me there’s nothing quite like a journey through the mind and thoughts of an artist…
    it’s like opening a treasure box filled with jewels that glitter with insight!
    And just for the record—as a reader, I love that you love description…
    I love how you convey beauty with or without words…
    and I totally love the creative way you write 😉
    So mission accomplished Jackie M–you are indeed the “lead” Alice who takes us, your inquisitive readers, down a myriad of rabbit holes into the magical world of Wonderland time and time again!!~ xo

  12. Hung Tran

    Yet another great post! I’m only starting to feel comfortable with calling myself a “writer,” although my main outlet is just here on WordPress. I’m quite like you in that I love and live for description: looking at old pictures and conjuring the back story in my head, and seeing a silent film play in my mind as the words flow from my fingertips. Writing is a beautiful thing, and it’s bloody hard. I want to slap anyone who says “buuuuut writing is so easy!”

  13. Sigh. Loved it!…and very, very curious about next book! xxx

  14. Pingback: Why do you write? | Mrs Holder's Legacy

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