The Writing Process Blog Tour: J.Ed. Marston

The next stop on the Peauxdunque leg of the Writing Process Blog Tour is J.Ed. Marston:

What am I working on right now?

I’m finalizing a coming of age short story that uses technology as a trope for exploring the question of identity. Man, that sounds pompous, but the conceit of the story is kind of complicated, and I’d rather let the story stand for itself rather than trying to describe.

How does the work differ from others in its genre?

Genre is always a difficult question for me. I’ve had more than one experience in which I wrote something and then struggled when asked how it should be categorized. In critiquing an earlier version of the aforementioned short story, Sean Ennis, who was leading a workshop I attended, called it science fiction. I was surprised because the story is set in the present and involves events that could be happening as we speak.

If the story is science fiction, I would say it differs primarily in attempting to use technology to delineate character rather than deploying characters to illustrate something about technology or society.

Why do I write what you do?

I’m fascinated by how we use stories to give meaning to our real-life experiences. This is more fundamental than what writers attempt to create for readers. For good and ill, we all tell ourselves stories all day long, sometimes to motivate ourselves to do something constructive, sometimes to justify ourselves, sometimes as a distraction or to relieve boredom, sometimes as a way of understanding why reality diverged from our expectations, and sometimes for other reasons too plentiful to categorize.

My ambition as a writer is employ my own impulse to tell stories to enact the things that bother me and make me wonder in a way that will capture other people’s imagination.

How does your writing process work?

By fits and starts. There’s a lot of pondering and futzing around. I always think I can come up with a story in the abstract, and then write it. In reality, my work usually starts with a sentence that begs another. I’ve found that my starter sentence will come whenever I spend time on the page (even though it likely won’t be the first one I write). Once that sentence snares my imagination, the process becomes a matter of problem-solving. What sentence would come next? What kind of character would say that? Etc.

I also find that self-imposed constraints help me find the story. When I think, “I could write something about anybody doing anything in any place at any time,” I freeze. But, when I make myself narrow the focus, the words start flowing.

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