Blog 1: Joe Hill and My Writing Process

Introductions don’t really count as a first post do they? I didn’t think so.

To kick things off the right way I figured I would talk a bit about one of my favorite authors and then touch on a subject that has to do with writing itself. I hope that sounds good. If not, sorry.

I came across Joe Hill two or three years ago. I saw Horns on a shelf in Barnes and Noble (funny thing is I was in that aisle looking at Stephen King books) and it totally caught my eye. In other words, I most certainly judged the book by its cover. However, after reading the summaries of both Horns and Heart Shaped Box, I decided to go with the latter. Needless to say I loved it and quickly bought 2oth Century Ghosts, Horns, and NOS4A2. Obviously, they’re all amazing.Then, I waited two long years for The Fireman, which I bought last week.

Although I’m not quite finished with it yet, The Fireman has quickly become my favorite Joe Hill novel to date. Which is kind of misleading because they’re all my favorite. I’m not going to summarize the story here because if you go watch any of the recent interviews Hill has given he does it better than I ever could. Here’s a good one that was posted by Power96Radio on Youtube,

Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to reveal any spoilers but I did want to mention some of themes in The Fireman that I found particularly interesting. One of the most obvious themes in the book has to be religion. While this may be slightly worrying to some people, I’d like to reassure you that Hill manages it like the master he is. Not only does Hill portray the power religion has to brighten people’s lives and bring them together but he is also able to demonstrate the inherent dangers that accompany it. As the novel progresses, its exploration of religion grows deeper and deeper and I cannot wait to discover how it is resolved.

In the interest of brevity, I’m only going to mention one more theme from The Fireman. Life and Death. This is a theme that is, admittedly, tightly tied to religion. Despite that fact, Hill manages to seperate the two throughout the novel. Yes, we do see an exploration of the way life and death is approached in a religious context but we also see it from outside the religious point of view. I think that you’ll find this best exemplified through the character of John Rookwood.

In the end, Joe Hill is able to paint a surprisingly accurate portrait of modern society. I’ll admit I’m not too fond of the many pop-culture references in the novel but it is easy to draw parrallels between the current state of reality and the state of the world within the novel. If you like Hill and haven’t picked this book up yet, take the first chance you get to do so. If you’ve never heard of Joe Hill, seriously consider getting one of his novels or his short story collection.

Okay, so now I’d like to summarize the process I take when writing. First, I do want to note that I am not doing this because I think I have some profound wisdom to impart upon you. Instead, I just want to throw my ideas on the matter out there so you can respond. Feel free to give me suggestions on other methods to try, tips to keep in mind, or just start a conversation in the comments below.

Basically, my process looks a little something this:

  1. Get story idea
  2. Write idea down
  3. Think about idea for a few hours/days.
  4. Write first draft as quickly possible
  5. Spend forever revising

Step one through three should be self explanitory. As far as step four goes, its not necessarily about the speed as much as it is about writing a first draft without thinking too much. To do that I find I have to write quickly. The purpose of this is to try and follow the story. To go wherever it takes you and feel whatever it makes you feel. In a video on, you guessed it, Youtube ( author Neil Gaiman says “no one cares about your first draft”. I find this statement to be pretty freeing. You can write whatever you want, however you want, and it does not matter because no one will ever see it. I follow that methodology in my own writing and, as of now, it has helped tremendously. Also, I always find that when I return to my first draft, after finishing it, it is never as bad as I thought it would be. This, in turn, gives me the inspiration and the energy to dive back into the story and make it even better.

Okay, so this blog ran a little longer than I expected. If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging around. If not, you’re not reading this so why am I talking to you?

Please feel free to stop by tomorrow for some new content. I have no idea what I’ll be writing about so I hope you like surprises.



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