Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Jacqueline Luckett

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author talks about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


I first learned about Jacqueline Luckett (and her new novel Passing Love) at Carleen Brice‘s blog White Readers Meet Black Writers…one of my go-to sites for good book recommendations. As I clicked from link to link—ultimately landing on Jacqueline’s website—I became more and more intrigued. There’s just something about this woman’s voice that draws you in (you’ll see what I mean below). By the time I’d absorbed the fact that Passing Love is about a woman who leaves her home country for another…and that it explores the world of expatriates in Paris…I knew I had to hear about Jacqueline’s writerhead. (If you follow this blog at all, you know I’m a sucker for anything expatriate.)

So, readers, settle back. You’re in for a glorious ride…

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

Like a bad boy lover who knows he’s got me hooked waiting for his call, his email, his text, his touch, writerhead takes its own sweet time to visit. I hunger for its return. There are days when I sit in front of my computer for hours, pecking away at mindless, empty scenes. Waiting. Just waiting, like I might for the sound of a lover’s personalized ringtone. And then…

Sometimes it happens when I sit in silence. Sometimes, if I’m alone, with others around me (cafés, writing retreats, and the like), writerhead comes swiftly. It spreads through my body like too many glasses of fine wine. It makes my blood rush in my ears, makes its way around my head, pushes words and scenes back down to my fingertips making them want to fly.

Thankfully, my State of Writerhead isn’t limited to my time in front of the computer. I can slip into it as I walk down the street or eavesdrop on strangers’ conversations or people-watch and lipread. Sometimes, I don’t know that I’ve slipped into writerhead until I’ve left it and sometimes not even then. Is that daydreaming? Does it matter? It did the time I wanted to use a sentence I found in my notes and couldn’t.

I keep track of new words and sentences that come to me in these moments that I’m in deep. The magical moment, for me, is when I’m able to take notes, observe, and create at the same time. Right then and there, I scribble notes and fuss because I’ve forgotten my notebook. So, I capture my thoughts on whatever is handy: notebooks, napkins, magazines, and newspapers. (I have several notes written on funeral programs.) Eventually, I file them, or retype and store them in a computer folder.

While writing Passing Love, I came across a wonderful sentence in one of those files. I loved the sentence. I wanted to use it in the novel. I loved its power and daring composition. Damn, it was good! I readied myself for the wonderful prose sure to follow this inspiration.

The note was typed, not handwritten. I waited.

The perfect sentence stood alone in the middle of a page. I couldn’t remember if I had written that sentence or if it was a quote from another author.

I couldn’t remember then.

I don’t remember now.

That is my state of writerhead: a fog, a spell from fairy dust, a missing moment. The precious time of getting lost in my head, of digging and seeing the furrow deepen, of writing sentences, paragraphs, and scenes where I have fallen so far into my imagination, that I don’t recognize my own words. I dearly love that time.

It doesn’t last long enough, and it doesn’t come everyday. But, ahhhh, when it does…

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

My mother will be ninety in the fall. Whenever my phone’s Caller ID displays her number, I answer regardless of what state I’m in.

“Are you busy?” This she asks, on nearly every call, after having chatted for five minutes about the weather, her last doctor’s appointment, or a tennis match.

“No.” Catholic school guilt lingers—I must follow the fourth commandment: Honor thy father and mother. I breathe. I wait. I listen.

She tells me what else is happening in her life. There are days when she calls because a friend has died, and she’s fretting over that loss and her own mortality. Maybe the cable company increased her bill by $1.49 and she’s fussing over that charge.

After we hang up, the lost writerhead state may or may not return. No matter. It’s my mom, and I love her. I smile and feel grateful that she’s still in my life.

But any one else? Any one whose call I happen to answer out of reflex or expectation of my mother’s follow-up call? Anyone who asks—knowing that writing occupies most of my day—“What are you doing?” and I realize that I shouldn’t have answered the phone…

I GET CRANKY @#$*!!!

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

For me, writerhead is like falling into a pink cotton candy machine with no awareness of body or possible harm: whirling and whirling, bumping and gathering the soft, wispy, delicious matter, until my head is full and fat. Just enjoying the sticky spin.

BIO: After leaving the corporate world, Jacqueline Luckett took a creative writing class on a dare, from herself, and began writing short stories and poetry and never looked back. The Northern California native travels as often as she can to nurture her passion for photography and exotic foods. Her essay, “Traveling with Ghosts,” was included in Best Women’s Travel Writing 2011. She is the author of two novels, Passing Love and Searching for Tina Turner.

Lucky for you there are all kinds of ways to connect with Jacqueline. Follow her on Twitter (@JackieLuckett). Visit her author page on Facebook. You can even subscribe to her newsletter.

 

Writerhead Wednesday: Featuring Carleen Brice

Welcome to Writerhead Wednesday, a weekly feature in which a brilliant, charming, remarkable author answers three questions about her/his writerhead…a precious opportunity for looky-loos around the world to sneak into the creative noggins of talented writers and (ever so gently) muck about.


Today I’d like to welcome Carleen Brice to Writerhead Wednesday. Most importantly she’s  the author of two acclaimed novels–Children of the Waters and Orange Mint and Honey–but she’s also the creator and curator of one of my favorite new blogs “White Readers Meet Black Authors.” In the masthead, Carleen describes her blog as “Carleen Brice’s sometimes lighthearted, sometimes serious plea for everyone to give black authors a try.” I love this…and Carleen…for putting some humor to such an important topic. If you’ve got a few extra minutes this week, get your butt over to her blog and watch her very funny, very poignant video “Welcome White Folks.”

The Scoop About Children of the Waters

“Still reeling from divorce and feeling estranged from her teenage son, Trish Taylor is in the midst of salvaging the remnants of her life when she uncovers a shocking secret: her sister is alive. For years Trish believed that her mother and infant sister had died in a car accident. But the truth is that her mother fatally overdosed and that Trish’s grandparents put the baby girl up for adoption because her father was black.

“After years of drawing on the strength of her black ancestors, Billie Cousins is shocked to discover that she was adopted. Just as surprising, after finally overcoming a series of health struggles, she is pregnant–a dream come true for Billie but a nightmare for her sweetie, Nick, and for her mother, both determined to protect Billie from anything that may disrupt her well-being.”

The Buzz

“I was exhausted and singing the blues the hour I began Carleen Brice’s new novel, Children of the Waters. Five hours later, I’d finished this fresh, free-rein novel about mothers’ secrets and children’s sorrows and was shouting ‘Hurray!’” ~ Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

“In Children of the Waters, Carleen Brice manages to explore the difficult, messy and unpleasant details of life with both humor and wisdom. The parallel journeys of sisters, Trish and Billie, will resonate with everyone and anyone who has questioned their identity and place in this world. Once again, Carleen Brice has crafted a thoroughly enjoyable novel that gets at the heart of the human experience.” ~ Lori Tharps, author of Kinky Gazpacho

First Paragraph (Prologue)

“Time was short. Maxine Kuepper was starting to say things she didn’t mean. Yesterday, she told her granddaughter to Move my dish, when she wanted to ask her to bend her leg. Trish stared, stumped and afraid, yet all Maxine could do was yell the word ‘dish’ over and over knowing that she wasn’t making any sense.”

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And now for Carleen’s writerhead

1. Describe your state of writerhead (the where, the when, the how, the what, the internal, the external).

Writerhead feels like the writing is already done, the scene has already unspooled in my head like a movie and all I have to do is follow behind it and get it down on paper. I know how it starts. I know what the characters say and how they say it. I know where they are, what they’re wearing, how they’re feeling and the why of all those things. Writerhead makes writing feel easy. I don’t have to think or wonder or dream. I just know. I don’t know how I know, but I do.

It often feels like writerhead sneaks up on me. Sometimes I can conjure it up with coffee (and cookies—hey, the brain runs on glucose, what can I say). Usually it feels like a gift. But I have begun to notice that this gift comes when I give attention to my fiction every day. The where or when matters less now. I used to find that first thing in the morning before I sullied my brain with the news of the day was best. Now I can check emails, read blogs or whatever and still get into the writing mode. However, my fiction is still best when I write before I do any other kind of writing—blogging or freelance articles. If I spend the morning doing those kinds of activities, my afternoon fiction writing will go better if I work on editing or rewriting. Or if I go to a coffee shop (and get a cookie).

I have always thought of myself as someone who could be of two minds about something. Someone who not only could juggle multiple things, but felt more comfortable doing that. I am a Gemini, after all. But either I’ve changed (which is possible) or I’ve been wrong about myself (not the first time). Because what I know about myself now is that I’m really, really obsessive. For me, writerhead is born out of obsession.

2. What happens if someone/something interrupts writerhead? (a spouse, a lover, a barking dog, an electrical outage, a baby’s cry, a phone call, a leg cramp, a dried-up pen, a computer crash, etc.)

I guess there might be a “where” involved with writerhead after all. At home I am very sensitive to distraction. I have an office, but our house is small, so I can hear my husband going about his day. All it takes is him opening a kitchen cabinet and I start to wonder, What is he doing? What is he looking for? Pulls me right out of writerhead. Whereas if I’m in a coffee shop and music is playing and people are talking, I can completely tune them out.

My husband just, you know, living his life, is an inadvertent interruption that I have no right to be upset about. So while I might feel frustrated at the interruption I don’t say anything. I am ashamed to say that I have literally growled at a more direct interruption, like “What time do you want to have supper?” (Writerhead brings out the bitch in me.) But my husband is a musician and I don’t come strolling into his studio to chat. When he’s working I let him work. And the few rare times I have been stupid enough to ask my own dumb question, like “Would you like me to turn on the A/C?” and interrupted his work, he’s just as irritated. So I’m double-lucky. He cooks and, mostly, understands writerhead.

3. Using a simile or metaphor, compare your writerhead to something.

Writerhead is like being newly in love when endorphins are flowing and everything is wonderful and filled with infinite (and only good) possibilities. No matter how many times I’ve slipped out of writerhead and plummeted back to hard earth, when I slip into writerhead it still feels so easy and full that it’s almost impossible to really believe that it will end.

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Carleen Brice is author of ORANGE MINT AND HONEY and CHILDREN OF THE WATERS. In February 2010, ORANGE MINT AND HONEY premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network as SINS OF THE MOTHER, starring Jill Scott. It was the second-highest rated original movie in LMN’s history and received two 2011 NAACP Image Awards. Brice is the recipient of the 2009 First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the 2008 Break Out Author Award at the African American Literary Awards Show. She is also founder of the blog White Readers Meet Black Authors.

You can read more about Carleen on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@carleenbrice), and her blog.

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Q4U Readers / Writers:Writerhead is like being newly in love”–I love this and can so relate. You?