Monday, May 14, 2012

Author Genevieve Graham on Where the Writing Happens

There are almost 90,000 words in “Sound of the Heart”. Isn’t that wild? This blog post is less than 500. And yet as I was writing, there were so many more. I had to edit it back. So it kind of begs the question: Where do all those words come from?

Ah. I’m so glad you asked. Because that’s something I’d like to know as well!

It’s probably easiest to start with the physical. When I write, I head into my quiet office (which my husband assembled for me) with a cup of tea. I light a couple of candles … then stare at my computer screen.
Tour from left:

• Usually I have tea there, but we’re having a bit of a heat wave lately, so I’m going with ice water. No, that is not vodka.
• Basket of pens, most of which don’t work.
• Hershey kisses. Yeah, so?
• Candles (at least one). I like these new dangling square ones I picked up a few weeks ago, but they’re expensive so I only burn them on special occasions.
• Computer (this is the third laptop I’ve owned since 2007. I’m a big Mac believer now).
• Cat carving which my beloved husband made for me. I’m a dog person, but he says I collect so much stuff (yes, I’m disorganized) that he calls me a Cat Lady. I just like it because he made it.

The entire wall in front of me is a huge world map, which I sometimes use to distract me when I need something new and entertaining in my head. Like when I see “Farafangana” in Madagascar and wonder what kind of stuff goes on there. You know. Very important stuff.

Right. Now onto the writing part. Like I said, I stare at the computer screen, and I kind of wait. I think, in a way, I meditate, though there are no ohms or soothing imaginings going on in my world.

Actually, my dog, Murphy, occasionally does ohms. Kind of like a “Poor me, what a hard life I lead” kind of a comment.
Then the words start flowing, and it’s absolute magic. Sometimes the pictures are so clear in my head, I feel like I’m channelling the stories. Words literally fly out of my fingers. It’s kind of interesting, because a few people have suggested I carry around a tape recorder kind of thing so I can just speak into it and type out stories later, but I’ve found I can’t do that. The words get stuck in my brain. So I have to type. Back in 1990 I bought one of those “Typing Tutor” programmes, then taught myself to type when I was applying for a job as a marketing assistant at a top advertising agency in Toronto. Seriously. In two weeks I went from 0 to 85 wpm. I have no idea how quickly I type now, but my fingers move more quickly than my brain most of the time. I can’t carry on much of a conversation with my voice, but if I could type it I’d be just fine!

So the question remains: where do all those words come from? And the answer is still: “I don’t know.” My favourite part about writing Historical Fiction is that no one can tell me what I’m writing didn’t actually happen. After all, no one alive today was alive then (unless you’re talking about reincarnation or something). The stories come to me from somewhere I’ve never been, giving me words I rarely use in my day to day life. Where do they come from? What if I am actually channelling them? What if the words come straight from the stories themselves because … maybe, just maybe, they really happened.

Genevieve Graham graduated from the University of Toronto in 1986 with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (playing the oboe). Writing became an essential part of Genevieve’s life a few years ago, when she began to write her debut novel, Under the Same Sky. The companion novel, Sound of the Heart, was released May 1, 2012.  

Thanks so much to Genevieve for stopping by In The Next Room! To learn more about her novel, Sound of the Heart, stop by her website.

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