How Writers Work

This post is part of a blog hop. I was invited on board by my talented friend, Glynis Whiting, author of A Nose for Death, the first title in her Nosey Parker murder mystery series. As a dramatist and filmmaker, Glynis brings a rich background to her mystery writing, which focuses strongly on character.

Part of blog hopping involves linking with other authors.  PJ Reece, author of works of YA fiction as well as the acclaimed Story Structure to Die For, is one of the smartest, most talented and disciplined writers I know. Read his post and be inspired. I met coach and author Jackee Holder at a writing retreat in Paris a couple of years ago. Her book, 49 Ways to Write Yourself Well, is one of my favourite resources on using writing to heal.

What am I working on?

I’m working on a nonfiction book about the journey of the suicide survivor – the one who is left behind after a loved one takes his or her life. I lost my brother to suicide ten years ago and feel a strong calling to explore a subject that is of central importance in our time. Suicide rates among 35-to-65-year-olds, the age range that my brother was in when he died, have increased by 28% in the last decade. There is also a growing recognition that suicide is more pervasive in our culture than the statistics would have us grasp; many deaths attributable to self-destructive causes could be deemed suicides. Suicide is a huge issue and gives rise to all kinds of questions – psychological, sociological, medical, existential, and spiritual. What can be more important than life and death?

How does it differ from others in the genre?

My book not only offers a multidimensional picture of how suicide impacts those who are left behind and of the many faces of grief, it also addresses suicidality in those who’ve lost a loved one in this way, particularly close relatives of the deceased. The risk of suicide among the surviving sibling is more than three times greater than that of the rest of the population and my book addresses that directly. This book offers an honest and vivid account of how my brother’s suicide impacted me and of my own struggles with suicidality. It also provides a range of tools for dealing skillfully with suicidal thoughts, for dealing skillfully with grief, and for using the opportunity afforded by the suicide of a loved one to craft a rich and meaningful life.

How does my writing process work?

The key to my writing process is to get at it first thing in the morning. It’s my best time of day and I’m happiest and most productive when I honour that intention. I have other things that I have to do that involve putting food on the table, and so I need to be disciplined in ensuring that I get at those writing projects that are close to my heart. I’m also working on developing the capacity to write in the middle of whatever’s going on in my life – to be able to find writing time, however short, in the midst of life’s other commitments and obligations so that if I’m not able to get at it first thing, I’m still getting something done that day. In addition to that, I book myself into writing retreats/intensives with fellow writers where we rent a space for a week or so, devote our days to writing on our individual projects, and then play in the evenings!

Why do I write what I do?

I’m drawn to write on subjects that contribute to healing the human heart – and am inclined to believe that doing so contributes to healing at a global level. While there is cause for hope and optimism, it can’t be denied that this is a dark night of the soul in human history, and I feel a responsibility to bring light to that darkness.

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