Confession time: I’ve never made actual sausage. But one of my coworkers at the agency is a member of the Krizman family (of Krizman’s House of Sausage fame), and I trust that he knows a thing or two about it. He’s been known to describe the creative process at work as “sausage making”. Meaning, the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a delicious, beautiful end result — ain’t always pretty. It’s not the stuff Pinterest is made of, you guys. It’s messy, bloody, rough. But productive. Intentional.
As part of a series making its way through the network that is Arkansas Women Bloggers, I’m giving you a peek at my writing process. My sausage making.What are you working on?
This blog. Musings of Mother Hood and I just celebrated nine years together. Nine years I’ve been claiming this little corner of the internet. That makes me proud. But sometimes I cringe when I think about those first few years and wish I’d been more consistent, more disciplined, more respectful. I wrote like no one was reading, because – they weren’t. Once in a while I consider permanently “archiving” all those old posts, but I always chicken out. They deserve to be here. They are part of the story.
Over the past few years, I’ve refocused on the things that make me who I am — parenting, travel, running — and I’ve evolved into a hybrid of a personal journal and lifestyle blog. And that’s what I’m working on. Telling stories.
Which leads me to the next thing I’m working on — finding new outlets for my stories. I’ll always have this blog to share, but over the past year I’ve felt a push toward sharing our travel and adventure stories more broadly. This winter our new friends in the Boundary Waters agreed, and printed our story for thousands of potential Boundary Water adventurers to read and enjoy. It got my wheels turning. And I’m on the lookout for the right place(s) for my voice.How does your work differ from others in its genre?
I keep it real, without crossing the line of privacy for my very private husband and not-yet-old-enough-to-defend-himself child. Likely, everyone who writes day-in-the-life stories of balancing parenting, marriage, work, hobbies — thinks they do it genuinely, but I try to be honest about my reality. Meaning, I may never be the homeroom mom or get to commit myself to running every single mile on a marathon training plan or go backpacking without ten extra pounds of gadgets and creature comforts — but I do my best to stay balanced. And honest.Why do you write what you write?
Some kids are good at sports, I was good at writing. I’ve always enjoyed it. I think my parents were a little surprised the day I announced I would be going to business school. What? No English degree? Since when do you want to be a CPA?
Last weekend, I was talking with a handful of my writing buddies and they were teasing me about my (facial) reactions to various topics and comments during our time together. I explained it to them like this: the look on my face isn’t shock or offense or consternation — it’s pure delight. I love it when I’m surrounded by clever, witty people — writers at that! — who just flat out know how to articulate something. During the weekend, we took to writing our wittiness in marker on the windows — so as to make it last just a little bit longer.
I really, honestly love words. I roll them around in my mouth, I agonize over choosing just the right word for that something I want to say — even if ten synonyms will get the job done just fine — and I fill Pinterest boards and walls in my house with words, words, words. I write what I write because words are my thing. Words strung together into a genuine story — that’s where it’s at.
How does your writing process work?
Oh, mercy. I’ve heard stories of people who are “naturally” left-handed, but parents/teachers/society force them to be right-handed so their lives will be easier in this right-handed world we all live in. That said, I think I’m naturally nocturnal. My optimal brainpower window for writing is from about 9pm to 4am. NOT OPTIMAL for anything even remotely resembling balance. Or sanity. I’m working on that. But I still stay up way too late, way too often, taking advantage of the spark when it hits.
And I take notes constantly. Sometimes it’s fragments of sentences, sometimes it’s entire paragraphs — but I keep a notebook (or the Notes feature on my phone in a pinch) handy and I make myself write things down when they flash through my brain. Every single time I think of something I like and don’t write it down thinking, “oh, I’ll DEFINITELY remember THAT” — I don’t. And it makes me sad. So I make myself write it down — even if I end up scrapping it later.
The great injustice of the intersection of writing and distance running is that I think of some downright BRILLIANCE out there on the trails — and haven’t found a good way to capture it. Maybe you can help me with that? Do I need a Talkboy?
The last thing I would consider part of my process is I always read it aloud.
I spent most of my high school weekends traveling the state, competing in speech and drama tournaments. My friends and I spent weeks scouring scene books and collections of poetry and stories, then memorizing, rehearsing, and fine-tuning our pieces to get ready for the next tournament. We practiced pace, volume, diction. We traveled by school bus and our “stage” was the front of a classroom — chairs and desks pushed to the walls. We performed in front of other students, just like us from around the state, and the further we advanced in the tournaments the bigger the audiences would get. Everybody wanted to go see the six or eight lucky souls who broke through to finals. They were the competition for next time.
It was my sport.
Hindsight being what it is, it’s easy to see now, but I had no idea the impact it was making on me — as a writer and a storyteller. For all my talk about grammar, I’m not the purist I pretend to be. I love and respect spelling and punctuation and mechanics, but I don’t hesitate to take liberties in the name of rhythm. Years of rehearsing and performing taught me — the rhythm of your words is as important as the structure of the sentences.
In writing — it’s your voice. And I have always taken that literally, I suppose. I was trained to appreciate inflection, rhythm — and it materialized in my writing. I write almost every sentence as if someone somewhere will be reading it aloud. I’ll bet you had no idea you should have been reading all this out loud to yourself the whole time, huh?
Thanks to Jacqueline over at Creative Outpour for passing the baton. I will find a few brave souls to share their own sausage making next week — stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the process sharing of two members of my tribe: Sarah E. White at Our Daily Craft and the one and only Jacqueline Wolven.