My daughter must have been a good person in a former life cuz her hair is so cute and curly. Makes me curious, because she's a bit of a stubborn demon at times in this one. I don't get it. How can someone be so cute and behave so terribly at the same time?
Having sold something is already more interesting than having not. There is sudden familial interest in my work. They're a bit surprised to find that I'm any good, as if I haven't been working my ass off for four years to learn how to do this right. Correctly. Whatever.
I got all sorts of comments, especially after they read my stories, like how do you come up with that stuff? and always suspected you were odd (accompanied by the nervous chuckle/cough) and my favorite, from my mystery-fan mom, I couldn't go to sleep on your stories so I had to read something cheerful afterward. Though she appreciates the wry, inpenetrable weirdness of Ruth Rendell, the cold analysis of Patricia Cornwell, and the watery sexual motivation of PD James, my stuff steps off those paths. Especially "To Stop A War," which I have on good authority is just plain depressing.
But being asked about my process so often has put a wrench in my comfort level with the thing. No efficient consistency for me. The process is more wonky and skewed than the stories themselves.
Inspiration strikes in the form of some visual, usually a still-shot and if I'm lucky it's my main character. I end up with a scribble on one of my infamous notecards. That's fun. That's hopeful.
Then, maybe, I write the damn thing, which takes hours or days or weeks, usually the latter cuz I rarely write more than a page a day when I'm writing a short and it's not enjoyable. I am, in fact, putting off writing a page right now. I can write novels at a clip of 10-20 pages per day, but shorts don't come as fast. I think that's what they call irony, Pope Joe. Anyway, it ends up on the laptop in some sketchy, hungry state like my current tale about a threeway involving a dom, a sub, and a Ouija board. Damn fascinating things, Ouija boards.
I finish it and it simmers for an undetermined amount of time, again: hours, weeks, months. I've a current story about a certain Prince of Darkness and his girlfriend. My friend read it and she really liked it but asked, "Why her? Why does he fall for her?"
Oh, that. Hadn't thought of that. Not like it's keeping me up nights or anything.
I come back, change a word here or there. Submit. Rejected. Revise. Submit. Rejected. Revise. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat! The story I sold I revised for--I shit you not--a solid year. A YEAR. Four thousand words. One year.
Or, with only some nameless dead guy in a trench to go on, I write the story in one sitting. A few tweaks and the story almost immediately elicits serious interest from a busy, prestigious editor like "To Stop a War" has.
About my kid and her hair, Mom put it most succinctly: "Darling, haven't you realized by now that life makes no sense whatsoever?"
ps Barth--loving your book. It didn't make me carsick, but I'll say it did if you like :)