The Simple Chaos I Call My Writing Process – Blog Relay

Thank you so much, Dyanne Davis, for inviting me to share my writing process. Not only is Dyanne a multipublished, award winning author, but she also hosts this wonderful  local cable show about writing in her hometown of Bollingbrook, IL. She invited me to be on her show last year and I showed up thinking it was a radio show and not a TV show. And yes, there is a reason why I’m sharing this example of my less than stellar intelligence.  I wasn’t really dressed up and I wasn’t wearing earrings and I might have squirmed about my stupidity. So, Dyanne, without a second thought, pulled off her own really pretty earrings, just so we could match. And of course so she could put me at ease.

Naturally enough, that day we talked a lot about the generous community of writers we both belong to and how tied to that community we both feel. So when she tagged me to be part of this blog-relay I couldn’t help but think of how it might as well be an extrapolation of that connection with the community of writers. Dyanne tagged me and a few other writers and I in turn will tag a few more, and technically, if this keeps going, you might have access to the details of the writing processes of every writer on earth.

Okay, so my process involves fanciful imaginings, but there you have it. And here are those unifying questions that will tell you what else it involves:

What am I working on?

I’m working on finishing up reading through the proofs of A Bollywood Affair and it’s the strangest feeling to not be able to change anything but typos. And the idea of letting it go out into the world is almost as terrifying and exciting as sending my first baby to kindergarten. Yes, I was one of those parents who followed his school bus to school in my car.

I’m also writing the next book in my Bollywood series of books which isn’t a series in terms of arcs or characters, but each one of the books has a protagonist who works in the Indian Film Industry or Bollywood as it has come to be called.  In A Bollywood Affair the hero is a director, in The Bollywood Bride, the heroine is an actress and in the one I’m working on right now, the heroine is a chorus dancer. She’s possibly the strongest, most damaged heroine I’ve ever written. She’s originally from Nepal and she was brought to India by a human trafficker when she was fifteen. Needless to say her journey toward healing and finding her place in the world has been challenging.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

In some ways it doesn’t differ at all from other romance and women’s fiction. My characters are damaged people who find healing in discovering themselves. And in healing themselves they find love and happiness, which makes it all worth the work. But, of course, my characters are Indian, with large, extended, interfering families and unique social issues, expectations and pressures. And they run the gamut of Indian cultural and economic backgrounds from being raised in rural traditional India to being born and raised in suburban America by immigrant parents and everything in between.

Why do I write what I do?

Because I really badly want to believe that everything that’s wrong with the world can be fixed. Because I want to have the experience of physically taking seemingly unfixable situations and fixing them. It gives me hope.

How does your writing process work?

Now there’s a question I wish I could answer succinctly. My process is incredibly chaotic and yet terribly simple. Essentially I know my characters – who they are, what’s wrong with them, what’s wonderful about them and I know the incident in their lives that they need to move past and the incidents that will take them there. So my planning process is a set of incident-bubbles on a page that then get interconnected by ever changing arrows and lead to a happily ever after. Now, how this actually happens has been different with each book and thus far any effort to give structure to the madness has only resulted in completely throwing me off.

I do write my first drafts very fast when I feverishly type out a really messy sequence of scenes to make up the story while listening to the same Bollywood song over and over again until my children refuse to ride in the car with me and my husband starts making offerings of headphones every time he sees me.

The only thing I can say for sure about my process is that everything happens in revisions. I’m a chronic, obsessive, insanely ambitious reviser.


Now on to the best part of this blog, you get to meet two wonderful new writers and my Lucky 13 sisters, who were fellow finalists in the 2013 RWA Golden Heart awards. Talia Quinn who writes contemporary romance that is so very New York it’s like taking a trip to the city, which I love love doing. And Leslie Lynch, who also writes contemporary romance and is getting ready to debut with her Golden Heart finalist entry Hijacked.  Make sure you visit Dyanne, Talia and Leslie. I promise you hoots.

13 thoughts on “The Simple Chaos I Call My Writing Process – Blog Relay

  1. A great process–so funny how it impacts your family. And I’m glad that you write about damaged people. So many try to act as if damaged people don’t deserve a HEA and they do! So looking forward to your books!

    • Thanks, Piper. Seriously, my daughter has that sniff and ‘ugh’ thing she does when I go into my endless song loop. Can’t wait for Preachers Promise either.

  2. What? Some people don’t think damaged characters deserve a HEA??? Well, those are the best kind and the most satisfying! Many readers identify strongly with damaged characters; it’s inspiring to watch the characters struggle to attain their healing, and ergo, their HEA. Sonali, I can hardly wait for your Bollywood books to come out!

    • I agree. But I think there is damaged and then there is damaged, and I think different readers have different lines. Cannot wait to read yours either, Leslie.

      • True, Sonali. I’m drawn to books like that, so am looking forward to reading yours. And Preacher’s Promise, by Piper. Thank you for your kind words about mine, too! 🙂

  3. So interesting to read other author’s writing process, Sonali. I’m a panster, and so far it’s worked for me, but I keep swearing that I’m going to attempt to get organized on my next book. You know, outline, synopsis, character charts, all that kind of stuff…nah, probably won’t. 🙂

    • Hey Sandy! Gosh, if you have your process down as well as you do and you’re writing those wonderful stories you are, I wouldn’t touch anything! Just keep going. Oh, and charts and spreadsheets give me hives. 🙂

  4. Not only do I love hearing about other writers process, I love reading their books. Piper, Lisa G.Riley was singing your praises to me just a couple of days ago. I got the sample and loved it. Can’t wait for the book to come out.

    As for Sonali, you’re one of the sweetest people I know. I know your book is going to be a huge success. Great blog. I cant’ wait to hear from the rest of you.

    • Hi Dyanne! Thanks again for the tag! And yes, I’m dying for Piper’s book to come out. I love her writing.
      And thank you SO much for that. You know how much it means to me.

  5. 🙂 I totally followed my kids to school when they first took the bus. When people say the mom from “Guess How Much I Love You” is weird, I say, “No, she’s me!”

    Love reading about your process!

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