Like I said in yesterday’s post, best-selling author Loraine Despres and I had such a great conversation last week, it warranted a two-part blog post. Today she tells us about her experiences as a writer.
Q. Can you tell me about your writing process?
A. When I’m writing and particularly when it is going well, I write until I’m at a loss for words. When you write for television, the show has to go on, so you have to get it done. I would love to be one of those people who could start at 6:00 and be done for the day at 10:00, but I usually write from 10:00 to 5:00.
If I’m writing something, it is the first thing I have to do. It is just like when you go to an office and have a job, you have to put that first. It is more important than getting your nails done or chatting with your mom. When I am working on a novel, that is my job.
When I had a small child, I worked during his school time, but I worked every day. People believe if you’re a writer, that it is what you do in your spare time when you have nothing else to do. People who say that are not writers. The real difference between a writer and a non-writer is showing up.
I did a lot of research. If there are any mistakes, they truly are mistakes because I wanted it to be very accurate. A doctor helped me find out about old abortions. I got old Life magazines and would go to the library so I could describe what people wore.
Q. What was your favorite part of the writing process?
A. Sissy was really special. The best part was when I would not be able to sleep at night because she’d be talking to me.
Q. Did you write the novel in a linear fashion or did you go back and forth on sections?
A. It was mostly linear. In television you always outline and I always hated outlining because you don’t have characters that are talking to each other. With this, I kind of knew what the story was. I let my characters talk to me for about 60 pages and then I outlined. If you can outline, it makes the writing process easier.
Q. Were there any parts of the novel you left on the cutting room floor?
A. With Sissy—not much. Those characters really came alive to me. I had been writing so hard for television and you’re in such a box. I would get to something like when Parker came home with Clara and I said, ‘Can I really make her the daughter of a bigoted candidate for Congress?’ I thought, ‘Hell ya.’ I was writing it for myself and I thought I might as well have fun with it.
Q. I love the language in the novel.
A. Thank you. My publisher called this literary fiction with a mass-market appeal. I work very hard on every word. It has to be beautiful, it has to sound like poetry. I try to change people’s lives.
Don’t forget that I am giving away two autographed book plates Loraine sent. Just leave a comment by 5:00 Eastern on Friday, Oct. 16. I’ll announce the winners on Monday.
You’ll also want to visit Loraine’s blog and her Web site to learn more about her and her novels. You can check out my review of The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc here.