It’s funny about names. Or maybe it isn’t. In the beginning of Peauxdunque, there were two Bartletts, Bert and Tad. And now there’s another Bartlett, the excellently insightful and multi-talented Zach. And none of them are related. OK, so maybe that really isn’t funny, but just a coincidence. In any event, taken from his original posting on his blog, Zach B Is Tall, here’s Zach Bartlett’s turn on the Writing Process Blog Tour:
1) What are you working on?
I’m working on a novel I don’t talk about much because I still kinda
believe in the idea of jinxing yourself. But it’s going to be a genre
farce involving things I miss about New England: local culture,
artsiness, snobbery, and existential dread given physical form.
Outside of that, I regularly write short narratives and light verse
for performance at a biweekly literary event called Esoterotica. This
includes an ongoing series of bawdy limericks for cities in Rhode
Island as an attempt to free the form from Nantucket’s tyranny.
Some of the Esoteroticians and I are also collectively writing a play
to be performed at this year’s New Orleans FringeFest.
2) How does the work differ from others of its genre?
For the novel:
I like to present absurd concepts played straight, and let humor arise
naturally from the rift that creates.
A good amount of the humor I’ve seen within scifi/fantasy/horror seems
to rest on fandom pandering and self-referential in-jokes, or a
protagonist who’s oh-so-quippy and smarter than everyone else around
them. I’ve never enjoyed fiction that simply did what I expected it to
and I don’t believe in escapism, so I hope to not do any of that with
my own work.
Since literary fiction is actually a genre too, I’ll say that I differ
from some of that because my affluent aimless twentysomethings don’t
bathe in gravitas, and nobody falls victim to a quiet revelation.
For the erotica:
Mine probably differs in that it’s intended to be laughed at?
3) Why do you write what you do?
I write humor because I take a droll Wodehouse-like approach to
everything in life, so I suppose I’d find it either impossible or
unenjoyable (and therefore nearly impossible) to write in a more
outwardly-serious mode. Writing is a hobby for me and it’s
counterproductive to have a hobby you don’t enjoy.
Also, the idea that using humor means you don’t take a topic seriously
is only pushed by people who often find themselves the target of such
humor and it should be disregarded. I see my writing as being a
fireplace poker; not for some belabored ‘stoking the flames’ analogy,
but because it can be wielded as a bludgeon against the haughty.
I actually do own a couple fireplace pokers for just that purpose.
4) How does your writing process work?
I won’t begin to discuss the idea-generating process because so much
of that part seems to result from idly overthinking my own
experiences/interests and trying to derive some practical levity from
them. I also think epiphanies are a totally valid way for ideas to
emerge. But regardless of origin, once the idea does exist, there are
technical processes you need to subject it to before it’s worthwhile
to somebody who isn’t you.
My process for writing the book kind of resembles backstitching. For
example I’d write all of chapter 1, give it a look over to tighten up
basic things, then write chapter 2, give that a look over, then go
through chapters 1 and 2 together for more thorough editing — seeing
any character traits I used in one that should continue across other
chapters, noting any points I could bring up again later or should
have foreshadowed earlier, things like that which you need a longer
period to notice and develop. When I finish chapter 3 I’d give it a
look over, then go through chapters 2 and 3 in that fashion, and so
on. It gives me steady breaks between writing and editing so that just
doing one for too long doesn’t seem overwhelming.
I work from a brief chapter-by-chapter outline so that I have an idea
of how things should be progressing as I write and don’t get caught up
in tangents too often.