Will you join me on my writing blog tour?

I have been invited by writer Barbara Beckwith to participate in a writing process blog tour. I have enjoyed getting to know Barbara through her work with the National Writers Union. During the years that I was the president of the Women’s National Book Association Boston chapter, she and I conferred on joint activities. Barbara is an accomplished essayist. You can read more about her on her blog. This tour has included Leslie Brunetta, Ken Wachsberger, and Adina Schecter.

Lisa Braxton’s Writing Blog Tour

What am I working on?

I’m working on a novel. I’m completing final revisions and plan to begin sending the manuscript out to literary agents before the end of July. The manuscript is set in the 1970s in a struggling New England urban community. The two sets of main characters are from different sections of the same town and are profoundly affected by an urban redevelopment project taking place. The novel explores issues of race, class, culture, and social responsibility.

In addition, I had a story published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game and have written three additional stories that I’ve submitted to the editors of the Chicken Soup Series that I hope will be accepted. I have also written an article for Guideposts magazine that I hope will be accepted.

Why do I write?

I enjoy expressing myself creatively through the written word. I write short stories, magazine articles drawing from my journalism background, and essays. When readers tell me that my writing inspired them, gave them hope, made them cry, made them reflect on their own situations, then I feel that I’ve done my job well.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

My professors at the MFA program at Southern New Hampshire University told me that no two people can tell a story the same way. I hope that I bring something unique to the reading experience.

How does my writing process work?

I write with my feet up in the bed. I write on the couch. I write in the library, during my lunch break at work, at the crack of dawn at the kitchen table, while I’m under the hair dryer at the hair dresser, while on airplanes. Whenever I can fit in a few moments of writing, I write.

So now it’s your turn. What do you think of the writing blog tour? Care to join me? How about some fellow alums of the Southern New Hampshire University MFA program. Let me know.

In Praise of the “lockdown”

padlockI had been working on the revision of my manuscript, The Talking Drum, for the past two and a half years. It was 75 percent rewritten, but I just couldn’t find blocks of time to power through the rest of it. I’d find an hour here or there at the end of the day at the library or the coffee shop, but by the time I’d familiarize myself all over again with my characters, plot, and subplots, the place would be closing for the evening.  I’d get home only to have the TV and the refrigerator vying for the privilege of distracting me.

Then an idea occurred to me. I decided to go into “lockdown mode.” I found an affordable hotel with just the bare amenities in a boring town in driving distance from home and booked myself a room for an extended weekend. To save money I packed nonperishable food items –peanut butter came in real handy. When I got to the room I tossed the TV remote into the safe and forced myself not to turn on the wi-fi. I flipped open my laptop, pulled out my notes and wrote for four days until my eyeballs felt like sandpaper.

Despite my discomfort, I felt good when I walked out of that hotel bleary eyed and squinting at the sun, because I had achieved my goal.

I know that lockdowns are popular at writing centers. Grub Street writing center, for example, in Boston conducts a lockdown every so often. For a small fee, members can be locked into the classrooms of Grub Street. They write until the lockdown concludes without the distraction of family, friends, or electronic temptations.

Funny. I was telling a friend about my lockdown. She’s a busy mother of young children. She has a fulfilling career and is going for an advanced degree. She suggested that writers aren’t the only ones who could benefit from a lockdown. She began toying with the idea herself.