Saturday, January 28, 2012

Guest Liz Flaherty Chats About her Writing Process

Liz Flaherty
When my friend Kristina Knight interviews for her blog, her first question is “Do you have (or do you aspire to have!) a writing process?” It made me feel so unintelligent to be stumped right out of the interview gate, but stumped I was. I’ve been writing most of my life, for heaven’s sake, so what is my process? On Kristi’s blog, I mumbled something about not having one but wishing I did, and then, of course, I couldn’t get the question out of my mind. It seemed to go right along with being—or getting—organized.

Process…okay, it’s a series of natural occurrences. That’s a definition I can live with.

·         1980s. I had these nifty coil-bound notebooks with lined yellow paper in them. I filled I don’t know how many of them before I could no longer find them and resorted to white college-rule paper. I sat in my chair in the living room and wrote while my family watched TV and made noise around me. I completed my first manuscripts that way, typing them later on the electric typewriter at the kitchen table.

·         Later. The first Tandy computer entered the house. It sat on a little desk in the smallest bedroom in the house, sharing space with the ironing board and…I don’t remember what else, but it was a mess. There was a chair in one corner, and sometimes my husband or one of the kids came in and talk to me while I wrote. Other times, I interrupted the writing flow to iron whatever a kid wanted to wear on a date.

·         1990s. Everyone left home! Except my husband, that is. I had to learn to write in a quiet room without an ironing board. It was…different. And difficult. I thought my voice had been suffocated by the silence. But then I sold my first book. Always Annie came out in 1999. I bought a new computer.

·         Later. I sold another book and a couple of more. Every time I sold a book, my computer died and I had to buy a new one. I graduated to laptops and gave up the quiet room because…well, because I was lonely in there.

·         2011. I retired from my day job, which I’d loved but didn’t miss for one minute after I left it, something I have yet to understand. I thought I’d write all day, every day, but the truth is that I want to do everything I didn’t have time to do for the 40 years I worked.

So here I am. I work at the dining room table, less than 20 feet from the living room television. I get up two hours before my husband and sit in pre-dawn silence and drink tea and write. And revise. And think, “What if…” As soon as the TV comes on, my writing voice is silenced. Common sense tells me to go back to the quiet room—I am, after all, portable. But I don’t want to. I want to sew and spend time with the boyfriend (yeah, we’re very married, 40 years worth, but boyfriend sounds so…young, don’t you think?) and do all those things I never had time for.

That’s the process. It happened naturally and in a series. And it’s organized. Best of all, it works.

Thanks for coming by. I hope you have a splendid year. The latest in my organized series of occurrences is ONE MORE SUMMER, from Carina Press. It is truly the book of my heart. I hope it finds a home in yours.

I’d love to have you visit my website or where I hang out with some of my best writer friends.


Jannine Gallant said...

Isn't it interesting how different we all are - some of us need quiet, some noise to write. I can edit with noise but need quite to write, which means very little writing gets done on the weekends when the family is about. I absolutely love your cover, Liz. It's the type of cover that would make me buy the book, just knowing there must be a great story inside!

Barbara Edwards said...

Thanks for tellin us about your method. I still need different things at times.

Jerri Hines said...

Thanks for the enlightening post. Enjoyed reading about your journey. Love your spirit. Books looks like a great read!

Liz Flaherty said...

Thanks for coming by, and to the Roses for having me! I'm in Florida on vacation now, but just got the news ONE MORE SUMMER is coming out in print! More excitement to add to the process.

Laura Breck said...

Thanks for being our guest on Roses of Prose. Enjoy Florida!

Kristina Knight said...

As long as your process fits you, that's all that matters! I have to have a little noise - TV doesn't bother me, music doesn't bother me...kiddo noises do. So I get my best writing done when the husband takes the kiddo somewhere outside the house. Or I take myself! ;)

Good luck with your release!!!

Sherry Gloag said...

Thanks for shariing your process of organisation. And best wishes with your new release and that it is also coming out in paperback!

pazooter said...

Love this: "... wrote while my family watched TV and made noise around me."

Alison H. said...

I need quiet to write--it's a habit I developed in college--and I must admit it's easier now that my husband and I are empty nesters. But you're so right about the process changing as the rest of life changes. I'm looking forward to retirement and seeing what changes that brings to my process. Thanks for joining us today, Liz!

Shawn said...

I'm like Kristi. I need noise, but as soon as the grandbabies come over, it's a rap. My office moved from a small bedroom upstairs to our formal living room. No one ever uses it anyway, so I converted it to my office. Now the spare bedromm is just that.

Margie said...

I went to an open-concept grade school, which means there weren't any walls between the classrooms. So, I learned to block out the unnecessary noises and can tune out anything--the public at B&N, the tv, even the chatter of my family--when I'm writing or reading. I actually like having the buzz in the background, silence kind of unnerves me. LOL

Have a great time in Florida and congrats on the paperback release. I, for one, can't wait.

D'Ann said...

Kristi is a great intervierer. I often asked myself what my process i, and I don't have one. When I'm free, I write. I like the TV on, the background noise doesn't bother me, I don't even hear it. A cup of tea or coffee and I'm set.

Liz Flaherty said...

Thanks to everyone for visiting!