March 31, 2014

Bonnie ZoBell Talks About Her Writing Process

I'm so honored to be part of a #MyWritingProcessTour, where writers talk about their work.  I don't know about you, but this fascinates me! Today, the fabulous Bonnie ZoBell is visiting here.  Before we get started, a little about Bonnie, and make sure to pre-order her great new collection, What Happened Here


Bonnie ZoBell lives in a casita in San Diego with her husband, dogs, cats, and many succulents. She is the author of What Happened Here and The Whack-Job Girls. She's a recipient of an NEA Fellowship and a notable story included in the storySouth Million Writers Award, among other awards, and her publications are numerous. Bonnie is one of those amazingly supportive writers with such subtle and moving work that I seek out every time I get a chance. If you don't know her, you should!   

Bonnie ZoBell: My Writing Process:  Blog Tour
Today I'm taking part in the #MyWritingProcessTour. It's so interesting and instructive to see how other writers go about their work. I was nominated by my friend, Susan Tepper, writer extraordinaire.  Be sure to get a copy of Susan's latest book, The Merrill Diaries, beautifully written and a thought-provoking romp through the U.S. and parts of Europe.
The awkward part about writing this blog post is that at the moment I don't have much of a writing process because besides teaching, I'm in the process of birthing my newest book, What Happened Here: a novella & stories. I'm doing everything I can to ease her passage into the world, making sure she's nurtured in every possible way, and giving her a good wholesome introduction with the hope people will be as good to her as they've been to me. At the moment, it's on pre-release and available only on my site, but she'll be officially launched on May 3rd. What I'll do here is write about my process when I'm writing. I warn you: This process isn't entirely the healthiest for children and other living things, in other words younger writers. Don't show this to your students.
What am I working on?
I've gone back to an old novel, most recently called Animals Voices—which I worked on for many years—because I think I've finally figured out a solution to a problem I was having. The story starts out with some young kids, the boy very curious about the unusual girl, after he gets over her strangeness and the way all his friends make fun of her, because she can communicate with animals. They grow up and marry and he is diagnosed with AIDS in the early years. Communication is difficult when no one will acknowledge the disease, probably even more so than communicating with owls. Then I'm going to go back to another novel that I also spent years on called Bearded Women, about a woman who goes to an electrologist because she's hirsute. There are class issues between her and the electrologist, and it comes down to the main character needing to pluck other parts of her persona as well.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I'd call what I write literary fiction, though I'd like to write more magical realism. Oh, give me anything to read that contains beautiful language and a good story, and I'll devour it. Perhaps mine differs because of my love of setting. I'm thrilled going back to Animal Voices, getting the chance to revisit the southern part of Del Mar in San Diego, land filled with an estuary, all kinds of unique crawly life, and the magnificent Torrey Pine trees. These gnarled pines grow crooked because they're on the bluffs right above the ocean and therefore get a lot of strong winds. They'd be creepy if they weren't so beautiful.
I'm no minimalist, though I try to be as spare as I can. I like to think that sometimes I'm successful at writing beautiful, in-depth descriptions that let you see images in life in a unusual way without going overboard. 
I'm whimsical.
Why do I write what I do?
I write because I love language and because writing fiction helps me figure out the world. I'd be lost without it.
How does my writing process work?
This is the unhealthy part: I'm a binge writer. I can go for days, weeks, even a couple of years and do nothing but write. I ignore my husband and animals, my hair gets dirty, my bills don't get paid, and I wear clothes that should have been recycled some time ago if I get really passionate and possessed about what I'm writing. But it takes a toll. So after doing this for a while, it's hard to allow myself to go back there—there's so much deprivation. Unfortunately, the other side of it is that I can also go for a long time not writing at all. That's where I am right now while I promote and regroup from my collection. But I'm daydreaming about those Torrey Pine trees

Bonnie is tagging the lovely Myfanwy Collins, author of  Echolocation, I Am Holding Your Hand, and The Book of Laney, and James Claffey, author of Blood a Cold Blue, as well as myself.

I'll be posting my responses to these questions next Monday, and I'll let you know those writers I'm tagging.  Stay tuned!!

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