April 16, 2014

C.D. Mitchell's #MyWritingProcess

Today on the #MyWritingProcess blog tour, you get to hear from C.D. Mitchell.  We've never met in person, but I feel like we have through our correspondence and his wonderful writing.  Later in the week, I'll be posting Rusty Barnes's response.  Stay tuned!

C.D. Mitchell

Proud to be a southern writer, C.D. Mitchell is the author of the wonderful story collections Alligator Stew and God’s Naked Will. A man after my own heart, he was raised on a farm and learned how to milk cows, make butter, butcher and cure salt pork, and make pickles, among other things. He earned his J.D. in law from U of Arkansas, practiced law, worked other jobs, and then got his MFA. He’s currently working on a novel and revising his memoir called This, Too, Is Vanity. He says he has been a pallbearer and a groom four times but has never been a best-man, and that in itself is a story waiting to be written. I can’t wait to read it!
My Writing Process Blog Tour
I became a part of this process when Tamara Linse tagged me to follow up on this blog tour. I generally do not participate in such things, but this seemed intriguing, so I tossed my hat in the ring and tagged two fellow writers I admire, Shonell Bacon and Brett Riley to follow me. So here goes!
What am I working on these days?
I am working on a yet untitled novel that will involve smuggling of guns, drugs, and illegals up the Mississippi River and its navigable waterways by riverboat barge. A chapter of the novel, one that deals primarily with President’s Island in Memphis, is scheduled to appear in Memphis Noir sometime this fall. The novel deals with river barge traffic, a largely unregulated means of travel during the early 1990’s. I envision a mix of Mark Twain, Robert Earl Keen and Cormack McCarthy in the final text. My main character has purchased an electric shock therapy machine at a flea market in Mississippi and will eventually use it to collect money on fronted drugs.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
A recent review of my story collection Alligator Stew called the writing “Dirty Realism.” Many of the reviews of my work posted on Goodreads and Amazon.com have observed that I write about situations others shun or ignore. I create real characters faced with desperate situations. I don’t spend six pages describing in flowery language how a dog crosses the road to take a shit in the ditch. That is not to say that sentence construction, word choice and rhythms are not important to me. They are, and they must be important to all writers. But my emphasis is story. Shit happens in the stories I write!
Why do I write what I do?
Because too many others lack the courage to face the reality of life. I write to expose the incredible hopelessness faced by the schizophrenic, by the impoverished, by those cursed with bad luck and misfortune. I write to expose the hypocrisy of the Bible-thumping zealots who would steal our freedoms away and impose by law their own brand of morality upon US citizens. I write because I have to. It has always been a hunger I must feed. I write because the best day of writing is always the best day of my life!
How does my Writing Process work?
I have always heard of binge eaters and binge drinkers; I am a binge writer. I develop an idea for a story or book. I note it in my journals and I write about the idea. I research and develop the characters. I read newspaper articles and interview people. At some point, the influx of information builds like water pressure behind a dam until I am forced to open the floodgates and release the weight of all that has accumulated. I have binges where I write every day, and during those times I commit to 500 words a day. Promising myself 500 words allows me to sit down when I have little time, and to get up when I simply must leave. But more often than not, 500 words become 1500 or even 2000. I endlessly revise, going back and rereading as often as I can. For instance, my current novel has had me researching Electric Shock Therapy Machines on the internet and trying to buy one on Amazon.com. I have interviewed a close friend of mine who ran river boats up and down the Mississippi and intra-coastal for thirty years. I am booking an evening ride on the Memphis Queen so I can approach President’s Island from the river, and I will also make a trip to the Island and hopefully spend some time exploring the Wildlife management Area that exists there within the city limits of Memphis. I have just begun the writing of the book, and the research will continue.

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