Alison Tyler on Writing
Two things I adore: Alison Tyler and writers talking about writing. And today, I’m lucky enough to have both! Wrapped Around Your Finger is out now in the US from Cleis and shares a UK Black Lace release date with my own book,Undone, tomorrow, 11 September. Here’s Alison, telling us how she works:
Wrapped Around Your Finger is the third novel in what has become my “Submission Series” but what began as a blog post a day. For 18 months, I worked on the story. I don’t sleep much anyway. I slept less while writing this series. Every song I heard on the radio became a potential soundtrack. Scents sent me back in time. Colors were brighter.
I remember both the stress and the freedom of sitting down each morning and slamming out a scene. I thought about the story all the time. Unlike a short piece or a stand-alone novel—which I tend to wrap up after a few days, a week, or a few months— this tale had no end planned. I lived and breathed the words every day.
The first post went up in August of 2006. The desire to wrangle 500,000 words into novel format remained for years simply a fantasy (or possibly a nightmare). How does one take 2000 pages and divide them into novel-sized sections that make sense? The concept was too daunting at first, and I hid from the idea until Cleis asked if I was still interested in writing novels.
But this series was unlike any of my other novels because the words were already there. I simply had to edit the fuck out of them. When you write a blog post a day, you can trust you have not overused a specific word. When you put all of the pieces together, you learn a lot about yourself as a writer. Or at least, I did.
I found pet words and phrases that I didn’t know I owned. Which means that I edited these books to their limits. The most thrilling note I’ve received ever as a writer was this one from Cleis’ copy editor:
I meant to mention in passing: I think I noticed this last time around, with Torment– it’s gratifying to see, going through the document, that Tyler used the opportunity to pare back her own language very effectively–word cuts that might’ve been presumptuous coming from me, but make the text so much more direct and tight. And not a single typo or added spaces, as usually happens when (usually individual contributors) start rewriting. She’s a pro!
The books as they stand are Dark Secret Love, The Delicious Torment, and Wrapped Around Your Finger. I still have 300,000 words to whip into shape.
Wish me luck.
Alison Tyler has been called “a trollop with a laptop” by the East Bay Express, “a literary siren” by Good Vibrations, and “a hell of a writer” by Violet Blue. She is the editor of more than seventy-five anthologies for publishers including Pretty Things Press, Cleis, Plume, and Harlequin. Her novels include Dark Secret Love, The Delicious Torment and Wrapped Around Your Finger, which is the third in the “Submission Series” published by Cleis Press. Visit her at alisontyler.blogspot.com and follow her at twitter.com/alisontyler.