The process

Every writer has a process, and one of the fascinating things about the process is that every one does it differently. Octavia Butler, prior to making it big, would get up at 2 a.m. and write for 2 hours before she went off to work. Patrick Rothfuss of In the name of the wind fame has a writer’s nook and prefers to write with a 30-year old keyboard. Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day. Everyone has their process. So I thought I’d talk to you all a little bit about mine.

It starts with this.

No description available.

This is a $5 Exceed pocket notebook. But really, it’s any notebook I can comfortably fit into my pocket. This is the one common thread among all the things I write: the blog, my fiction, my short stories, or my poetry. I carry it with me places because I never know just quite inspiration’s going to strike. I also have pens in literally every room in the apartment. About like, 50 on my writer’s desk, 25 on my school desk (if you’re keeping track that’s 75 in my living room area alone), 1 in the bathroom, 4 in the bedroom, and three in my car. I have two backpacks (1 school, 1 travel) with pens in them, and I tend to carry a pen case with 4. The only time I don’t actually have a pen on me is when I’m taking a shower or working out. And of those I’ve been very tempted to get one of those shower crayons because YOU NEVER KNOW. Oh, and I may have mentioned this already, but every notebook I have is titled ‘Flash Floods and Revelations #’ because I really liked that phrasing and it beats just writing NOTEBOOK 1.

Anyway, so like I said, my process begins with jotting down random ideas. For my fiction, my process is very straightforward. I jot down an idea and then run with it once I have a fixed idea about where it’s going to go. I was with some friends and we got to talking about mattresses and how they basically retain a whole bunch of skin cells. Then I thought — well, I know that every seven years your body replaces all of your cells. Then I did some unscientific math and figured that old mattresses probably have entire people in them. Next thing I know I’m coming up with a story about a mad scientist cloning people, which became the first official horror piece and the first story of mine that was turned into audio. (The added weight of skin cells)

For my poetry, the process is a little more convoluted. With my fiction, and keep in mind I focus on writing flash fiction, I can hammer out 1-2k words once I have a solid idea in mind. Poetry, which is by definition and nature shorter, I take a lot more time. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with quality or distance, it just feels better.

It starts with the idea on the carry-on notebook that I then transfer into one of my designated poetry journals. Once I fill the notebook, I seal it because I’m extra like that, and then I stuff it in my poetry bookshelf. I let it sit there for at least a month, and then I take it out. I unseal it and start reading the poems again. Those that I like are typed up with some minor edits and saved on my poetry folder in my computer and from there I start submitting them to journals.

I’ve documented the process for my most recent “batch”

No description available.
The poetry nook, missing a few books I’ve loaned out.
No description available.
Sealed June 16, 2021.
No description available.
one of the first poems I wrote, I realized I liked it, so I sharpie’d a checkmark after I typed it up.
No description available.

Then saved into my poetry folder on my computer,

I’m actually really fond of ‘The Throne is Empty’ and ‘That Small Nations’ both of them are three-part poems and I can’t wait to get them published.

And that’s pretty much it.

Now, I tend to write wherever I get a chance. Pre-pandemic I was partial to coffeeshops of all kinds because y’know, I have to keep up appearances. Also, realistically: Coffee houses have coffee, outlets, and don’t have the distractions I would have at home. Since the pandemic I’ve obviously been limited to writing at home and I’m great with that because where else can I be comfortable (aka in pajamas) when I’m writing?

No description available.

There’s a lot boing on but I’ll give you guys a TOUR!

1 – work pile: notebook, poetry journal, and a French-ruled notebook I use to try out inks and practice my handwriting. Oh, and two ‘currently reading’ books: Andrea Gibson’s Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns; Amy S. Kaufman/Paul B. Sturtevant’s The Devil’s Historians: How modern extremists abuse the medieval past; and Efrain Huerta’s Transa Poetica.

No description available.

2. Copper bowl with floating candle
3. Ceramic bowl where I keep the die for my pen color selections as well as my rings
4. Candle with wooden wick that makes that really neat crackling sound LOVE YOU TARGET
5. UTB/TSC paperweight
6. Gel pen pen holder
7. ‘Pens of the week’ pen holder
8. Oracle and affirmator card for the week
9. My ‘writing buddy’ coyote
10. Letter-writing material: Monteverde Ruby and Diamine Sherwood Green inks along a shot glass where I put the water for the wInksday ink tests. My seashell brass seal is behind them.
11. Fountain pen pen holder and right next to it my Mystic Mondays tarot deck I use for my journaling prompts. At the front are two gift bookmarks, one from my dad and another from my friend Stevie. I haven’t wanted to hurt either of them by misplacing them in a book.
12. Incense burner my dad gave me
13. highlighter pen holder (I lean heavily on midliners since they’re amazing but I also have one regular bold highlighter)
14. Iron-nib pen for letters
15. secondary incense burner

I tend to have Spotify or YouTube playing when I’m writing because I cannot stand silence. I’ll have another blog about my writing listens later but lately it’s been either Amon Amarth’s Berserker or a playlist my friend Lindsay and I created called the Nopal/Maple War: Cataclysm that’s got a lot of kickin’ tunes.

Below the desk (a gift from my friends the Gardners) is a drawer where I keep the other writing and poetry journals, an extra French-ruled notebook for handwriting practice, my fancy letter-writing paper, a different fantasy-themed tarot deck, and two craft books: Jessica Brody’s Save the cat! Writes a novel and John Dufresne’s Flash: Writing the short short story.

The side journal used to be my junk drawer but I cleaned it out and it became my bullet journal material area. I have my finest-point pens, assorted bookmarks, index tabs, ink cartridges, and blank wInksday paper samples.

I also have two medallions and two rings I like to have on me when I write.

No description available.
A wood/amber ring, a stainless steel feather ring, my stainless steel Camino de Santiago necklace from my pilgrimage with my dad, and a coquinajasper/bloodstone pendant I got with my friend Anna.

But, again, it all comes down to where you’re most comfortable with. When I wrote my book, I did a whole bunch of the writing at a coffeeshop in Houston because I worked Sunday-Thursdays and I could take Friday to work. Being in a coffeeshop or writing with friends is a technique used to help ADHD people because it creates something called body doubling. Basically, if you’re alone, your mind will wander and so having people around you in a physical or even virtual space serves as a check for your mind to come back down to earth.

What is your process like? Discuss it in the comments!

Published by obsidianpalms

Hugo Esteban Rodríguez Castañeda is a writer and educator hailing from Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley. He is the author of “…And Other Stories” (2018, La Casita Grande Editores) as well as other short stories, poems, and essays that have appeared in places like The Airgonaut, The Acentos Review, Picaroon Poetry, Neon Mariposa, Mathematician Transmission and the Texas Poetry Calendar. He is a graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso's MFA program and hus fiction has been recommended as part of Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net slates and was longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50. He is currently a reader for RUBY Lit and occasionally freelances as a content editor for a publishing company. A fountain pen enthusiast, he lives in Northwest Houston and is most at home at coffeehouses, shopping malls, and mosh pits.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: