Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What’s on Kelli’s Desk? An Inside Look at a Writer's Life...

Hi everyone,
As most of you know, I’ve published thirteen erotic romances with Amber Quill Press, four non-fiction pet care guides, and dozens of romance, horror, and sci-fi short stories. You can probably imagine that I’m a very busy author with a messy desk!

Over the years my desk has witnessed a lot of triumphs, agonies, long hours, characters being born (and getting killed off), and all the other ups and downs writers go through as they create stories.

My desk is situated under the window in our guest bedroom. The view isn’t particularly inspiring (I can see the street, some trees, and the occasional squirrel), but that’s okay because when I’m at the desk I’m usually “just” typing.

Unlike most authors today, I write everything out in longhand. When I get an idea for a story, I grab a pad of paper and several pens and start writing an outline. People ask me why I write like this when “everyone else” types. I think the act of putting the pen to paper helps me get in touch with the story and the characters. It’s also easier for me to write anywhere, at any time. If it’s nice outside I’ll sit in the backyard and scribble under the trees. If I’m stuck waiting for someone, I can pull out the pad and start writing, or just jot down ideas.

I give myself permission to write the first (usually very rough) draft on paper, then I go back and start typing. When I head into the guest room to work on a book, I tell my husband that I’m going to “chain myself to the desk” for a few hours.

Drafting the story and creating adventures for the characters is the fun part of the writing process. Typing, editing, revising, and proofreading are what make writing anything “work”. But I’m not alone at my desk.

Ages ago, my mother bought me two small cherub statues that now sit on either side of my monitor. One angel is reading a book and the other is writing in a book with a feather pen. They remind me of why I’m there – to write and to produce stories that people read. I also share my desk space with a squirrel statue I call Dave. I like squirrels. They’re hardworking, determined, motivated, and pretty crafty. These are all qualities that writers need. When I get discouraged, tired, or feel like giving up, Dave reminds me to “keep on keeping on” as the phrase goes. 

As I type the manuscript, I add, delete, or rearrange scenes and fill in with missing character descriptions or setting details. By the time I have a first typed draft, the story is in pretty good shape. But while I’m typing the book, my desk gets a workout. Highlighters, pens, scraps of paper, and stacks of marked up manuscript pages cover every visible surface. As I finish a scene or chapter, I staple the pages together and plop them on the nearby dresser to get filed later.

After a story is finally done and off to the publisher, I take a day or two to sort through the piles of manuscript pages, outlines, notes, and whatever else has accumulated on my desk. I keep what I need, recycle the rest, and give my desk a good dusting. A clean and clutter-free surface mirrors my mental state at this point. That story is finished, and now I have the time and energy to start thinking about a new piece of writing, to fill up another notebook, and start the process all over again.

I hope you enjoyed this “insider look” at where writers create the stories you love!

Happy Reading!

Kelli A. Wilkins

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