Rachel Thompson

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Alana Cash – My Creative Process

My Creative Process

by Alana Cash

I used to write everyday and have a ritual for writing – a pot of coffee, listen some loud dance music through headphones (for the beneifit of neighbors), perhaps dance a bit – nothing too elaborate (again for the sake of the neighbors).  And I used to write from midnight to 3 a.m.  Over time my ritual for writing has changed.  I work from 9 a.m. to noon, generally, and like to work in a coffee shop.  My favorite these days is only a block from where I live and they have old-fashioned metal chairs on the sidewalk.  I can take my shoes off and work to the sounds of traffic, people walking by, possibly a bike rider.

Alana Cash

Now, I plan to write.  I have to choose the time, place, and writing implement.

I hand-write all my work which gives my brain time to think, to picture, to form a story.  And on different days, depending on my creative mood, I might use a fountain pen, a razor-point felt tip pen, a gel pen (my favorite), or a pencil.  I may write until I run out of ink, which happens quickly with a gel pen.  Some days I just get a sentence or a paragraph and they may not even fit my story.  And, always, I procrastinate about typing it all up.

I suppose I write like a journalist because my stories, my inspiration comes from questions – Who? What? Where? Most important, Why?  I see what’s happening in my story, but I also feel it.  And, as a writer it’s that feeling I want to convey.  For that reason, I include body language, smells, color, weather – my character sees everything, but what is she focusing on?  What evokes a response in her.  Where is her attention?  I don’t have to say what she’s feeling if I can write a picture of what she is seeing and smelling and doing.  That is, if I write it well enough.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote a poem called “The Woodspurge” (a flower) in which he captured in 12 lines, an intense feeling of loss and grief, because when we feel deeply, we focus on nothing generally and very few things specifically.  The poem was assigned reading in college and I’ve never forgotten these last four lines:

The Woodspurge


The wind flapp’d loose, the wind was still,

Shaken out dead from tree and hill:

I had walk’d on at the wind’s will,—

I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was,—

My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!

My hair was over in the grass,

My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run

Of some ten weeds to fix upon;

Among those few, out of the sun,

The woodspurge flower’d, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be

Wisdom or even memory:

One thing then learnt remains to me,—

The woodspurge has a cup of three.

It’s journalism – Rossetti wrote the facts – he walked around aware only of the wind blowing or not blowing – no decisions.  Then, he sat folded over, looking at the ground. He sees a flower and beautifully captured a feeling.  Rossetti could have stated he was in a  trance of grief, how much he hurt, his sense of loss, but instead, he simply recorded what he did and the feeling comes through very powerfully.  It becomes universal – we know what it’s like to simply stare at something because our will is lost to us.

I’m not suggesting that everyone write this way.  It’s just the way my style developed.  I would love to write like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ann Patchett, but I don’t.  I can’t.

HOW YOU LEAVE TEXAS is a volume of four unique stories about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail. These young women seek escape from boredom and sorrow and find it. Told with humor and pathos, here are the synopses:

DAM BROKE – after high school graduation, two quirky best friends reveal big secrets.

“In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.”
CAMILLE’S NET WORTH – on her 40th birthday, Camille’s life falls apart in uncontrolled demolition. Life improves when she gets a job creating art paper and returns to painting. But the plot twists and she ends up in jail, laughing.

“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”
“You can’t do that!”
“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”
KRYSTAL’S WEDDING – Heading for New York, Krystal leaves behind her shoddy family in Midland, Texas. Ill-prepared for the culture shock and expense, she takes a few slippery steps before she finds true independence.

“Krystal’s family wasn’t an American success story. Mom felt like life had cheated her since Daddy never made any real money and spent most nights getting drunk at the Welcome Inn. Erin never finished beauty school and worked at a donut shop. Bethany worked as a bar-back at the Rusty Nail and was turning out like Daddy. Alcoholic, back-slapping, charming. Eddie Garthwaite, owner of Garthwaite Used Cars located on Interstate 20 between Midland and Odessa. Eddie Garthwaite who currently had his driver’s license suspended because of a DUI.”
FRYING YOUR BURGER – Nicky and her friends spend mornings slinging repartee in a coffee shop. While paying a traffic fine, she meets a director and soon finds herself a pawn for two directors trying to ruin each others careers.

“I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the ‘hospital orderly fashion catalogue.’ It was all I had clean that day.”

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre –  Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG13

More details about the author

Connect with Alana Cash on her

Blog http://howyoulovetexas.blogspot.com/


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