ME: Today, everyone, I’m interviewing Christina Anne Hawthorne, the most renowned writer that no one has ever heard of. Welcome, Christina.
ME2: Thank you for having me—even though this looks exactly like where I’ve been for the last eight months.
ME: So, NaNoWriMo is winding down. How has it gone for you this year?
ME2: The same as it always goes. Well, since the first one.
ME: Right, but I’m supposed to be acting like I don’t know you that well.
ME2: Oh, right. Okay. Well, I finished drafting Case of the Deadly Stroll and am presently drafting a novella that’s tentatively called, Holiday in Farthing. I always struggle with naming novella’s for some reason.
ME: So, are you pleased with Deadly Stroll.
ME2: (shrugs) Sure. It’s a first draft. So, on that basis, it’s great. Compared to my new vision of what it can be I’d say I’m, maybe, halfway there.
ME: New vision? Halfway?
ME2: Yes. No matter how much I plan, no matter how much I try and gain insight into my characters, it isn’t until they’re living life that they reveal a number of truths to me. Too, there are always some things that I’m convinced must bother them based on their pasts, but then turn out to be wrong.
ME: Huh. For example?
ME2: I knew that Talma’s addiction would be an issue for her in the present, and I was right about that. I also knew she’d be paranoid about people discovering her background. What I didn’t see coming was how much she’d allow that past to continue controlling her. It makes for a stark examination of how someone repeats their mistakes. I was also surprised by her willingness to lie to protect herself. Those surprises, then, led to the core problem that spans past and present: avoidance.
ME: Were there any fascinating additions to the book that wasn’t in the original plan?
ME2: A bunch, actually. Her cat, Cinder, has a far bigger part than I’d envisioned. As for the antagonist, I’d been focused on the horrific killings that are made easier for him to commit because of his ability to exercise mind control. Anyway, over the course of the story that ability took became increasingly disturbing. Upping the stakes, if you will. It began when he sent her a message via someone who had no memory of him ever talking to them.
ME: That sounds creepy.
ME2: (laughs) Oh, you don’t know the half of it.
ME: So, there’ll be enhancements and greater stresses placed on some aspects of the novel when you edit?
ME: Which will be?
ME2: Hard to say. Months, at least. It took me 10 months to get back to Protecting the Pneuma Key for it’s first edit.
ME: So, you don’t edit right away?
ME2: Absolutely not. Well, mostly.
ME2: Not exactly.
ME2: Sorry, that was probably confusing.
ME: Don’t worry, we’ll edit it out (we won’t). You don’t sound like you know if you edit right away or not?
ME2: Oh, okay. I see the problem. It’s the whole drafting and editing functions are completely separate issue. They are, but they aren’t.
ME: That still isn’t clear, Christina.
ME2: I don’t perform them at the same time, but my drafting and editing selves are communicating continually. Drafting self writes while editing self takes notes based on the issues that drafting self notices. Later, say in a few weeks or so, editing self will read the story and dictate notes to drafting self concerning what additions will be required. That all becomes the starting place for editing much later when I’ll repeat the process. It becomes like multiple eyes on the story.
ME: I’m trying to wrap my brain around that.
ME2: I don’t try to. I just do it. It’s how my process has evolved. Everyone is always interested in processes. Well, I have a drafting process, an editing process, and a collaborative process. When you think about it, drafting and editing might be separate functions, but they’re still a part of the whole, which is producing a finished product. That being a novel, novella, or short story.
ME2: I’ve said this a lot, but the best process is the one that works for you. That means, the method that generates results. That process, though, is more than about drafting. I reject hard and fast rules, but I do have a general system that’s always evolving. It’s broken into multiple parts that work together.
ME: I hadn’t thought about it like that.
ME2: My impression is that most people haven’t because I know that’s how I used to be. First I got past the horror of the blank page. Then, I got past the horror of the overwhelming thought of editing a complete novel. After that, I sought ways to make them work better together. Now? I thrive on the thrill of my fast drafts and settle comfortably into my edits. Drafting is morning coffee. Editing is hot chocolate before the fire at night.
ME: Well, thank you for that insight.
ME2: Sure. I hope it helps someone out there.
ME: What goes into that transition, exactly?
ME2: That’s a big topic. Maybe next time?
ME: Sounds good! Thanks again for joining us, Christina.
ME2: My pleasure.