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Faded Sandpaper

How I Work


Autumn 2013


When writing a draft, I usually compose on paper.  The blank page comes in the form of 8-1/2 x 11 legal pads.  There is a certain seductive quality to seeing your words “in print” on the computer screen that does not permit the objectivity which a writer needs for revising and editing.  I frequently must “input” thoughts, dialogue, and narration into an electronic file because the words appear with laser speed in my mind.  However, I always consider those passages as works-in-progress and have even deleted major portions of some of them.  A writer has to be willing to use the “Delete” button just as much as the keyboard.

Many scenes have “come to me” while I am driving, exercising, or doing errands.  There is always a pad of paper and a pen in the car or in my purse.  In a pinch, napkins and sales receipts have served my purpose!


During the process of inputting my hand-scrawled fiction into an electronic file, I automatically revise, edit, and sometimes decide that the material is not for this novel but for another one!  At a very young age, I was trained as a typist; my typing skills allowed me to earn my way through life for many years.  Thus the manual/physical process of working on a keyboard is ingrained into my creative psyche.  The thought of using a touch screen to write is quite appalling to me.

In terms of development of the novels that I have written and plan to write, the seeds of germination were planted long ago.  Some images were saved in my mind for over thirty years before being rendered into word pictures in a novel; other elements in scenes come directly from that day or week in my life during composition.  For decades, I wrote the following in chartreuse green cloth-bound journals:  myriad thoughts; impressions; passages of dialogue and narration; factoids; ideas for names; personal essays; and research information.  Those writings were later used to compile the draft of a novel.  The cloth-bound journals were then expunged.

I recall several lines that I wrote into a gray hard-bound journal sometime during the spring of 1983 while I was waiting at a bus stop.  I saved this passage from this journal and kept it in a file.  That piece of writing, which I still recall vividly, was used for the love story of Arthur and Camille in THE DAWN.  I believe that the glimmer, the seed crystal of that opus formed within that passage.


My method is understood by me; I don’t expect much more comprehension that that one.  I must state that home-schooling my children solidified, augmented, and enhanced not only their knowledge but mine as well.  I would not be the writer or the woman that I am today without those cherished years.

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