The diversity of a single writer sometimes blows me away. Sometimes we have this idea that writers have a single genre that they write within, a genre in which they excel and that must be their favorite. And then you discover writers like Kristina Wright, accomplished erotica writer, romance writer, and mommy blogger.
Kristina Wright is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Virginia with her husband and their two sons. She has edited over a dozen erotic romance anthologies for Cleis Press, including the Best Erotic Romance series. Her own books have been published by Harlequin and HarperCollins and her short fiction has appeared dozens of print anthologies. She blogs on parenting topics for Mom.me and Café Mom and writes about books for BookBub. Her essays have appeared in publications as diverse as the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Role/Reboot, Good Housekeeping and Narratively. She holds degrees in English and Humanities from Charleston Southern University and Old Dominion University and has taught at the college level. She loves reading, traveling, and coffee.
Q & A with Erotica Writer and Parenting Blogger Kristina Wright
Kris: Before we dive into editing, what is your favorite part of the creative process?
Kristina: For me, there is nothing like creating something out of nothing, so I love the process of getting the story down. Just putting the story on the page—and hopefully coming close to how I imagine it in my brain—is the best feeling ever.
Kris: Do you edit as you write or do you plow forward at full steam, letting words and punctuation fall where they may?
Kristina: If I’ve just started the piece, I’m usually anxious to get the bones down. I’ll pour it out, stream-of-consciousness style, until I’m comfortable in the groove, and then I’ll be more aware of editing as I go. But, especially for fiction, the early stages are a jumble of thoughts and snippets of dialogue here and there and notes on character. It takes me 20-30 pages to figure out where I’m going, and then I start cleaning up as I go.
Kris: Is your editing process different when you edit fiction verses when you edit a shorter essay or article?
Kristina: The shorter nonfiction pieces I do for parenting blogs (500-1000 words) are usually pretty well planned out by the time I start writing. The editing has to be tight—there’s a word count (and attention span) to be considered when you’re writing for a website. Often, I’m 100-200 words over my limit by the time I have a fairly clean draft. Then it’s a matter of going back and tightening—cutting out the adverbs, making sure I’m not repeating myself—and snipping those extra words. Often, those extra words will spin off into another piece. With fiction, I’m less concerned about word count than I am telling the story, so for me there’s more freedom to writing fiction.
Kris: Does this process differ depending on genre of fiction?
Kristina: I write romance, erotica, erotic romance, and romantic suspense, and, though they overlap in some regards, there are reader expectations in each subgenre. Keeping that in mind as I edit—what the reader expectation will be—helps the editing process. With fiction, I’m able to slip in and out of character, and there’s not the same sense of self-identity as there is with nonfiction. Personal essays and memoir, in particular, require a certain emotional vulnerability that means turning off the internal editor and just speaking truth. It’s harder, in many ways, than writing fiction.
Kris: I can completely understand that. Nonfiction requires a different voice and perspective, and when you’re writing about something as personal as parenting, which you do so openly, honestly, and refreshingly non-judgmentally, it takes this up another notch. Outside of thinking about shifts in voice between styles of writing, are there any word choices you wish more people understood?
Kristina: The one that I saw most as an editor of erotica anthologies is the misuse of the word “ravage” when the author meant “ravish.” It drives me crazy!
Kris: Ooh, I need to add that to my writing tips list. How have I not done that one yet? Thanks for the suggestion. Do you have any strong feelings about the Oxford comma?
Kristina: Hate it. Always have. It looks weird to me, stuck before the “and.” There are rare occasions where it might help clarify meaning, but reorganizing the sentence usually resolves it and makes the Oxford comma unnecessary. Having said that, I follow my various publishers’ style guides (and I grit my teeth while I do it).
Kris: I fear you’ll be gritting your teeth when reading the final version of this interview—my blog has always been an advocate for the Oxford comma—but this brings up another wonderful point on style. As much as some want it otherwise, there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to Oxford vs. Serial comma usage. It’s another one of those can’t-we-all-just-get-along conversations. Differences of opinion are okay. Not all grammar rules are black and white. I could keep going on this for another 1,000 words, but I’ll stop here. Last question for you: How do you know the story or article you’re working on is officially “done”?
Kristina: I’m never done. But the difference between being a writer and being a professional writer is getting paid for what I write, so at some point I have to let go of what I’m writing and send it out into the world. If I’m contracted and under deadline, letting go is a little easier. If I’m working on a submission to a new publication, I give myself a self-imposed deadline. I also have to trust that other sets of eyes will catch what I’ve missed.
One of my favorite quotes on the creative process comes from Leonardo da Vinci: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” And it’s so true. Sometimes “finished” means that the deadline has arrived. Sometimes “finished” means beta reader concerns have been addressed. Sometimes “finished” means editing goals in Excel spreadsheets have been accomplished—no joke, we all work in different ways.
Writers have to be careful not to call a piece finished too soon lest a project is sent out to meet its fate before plot structure is perfected, characters are fully fleshed out, redundancies and repetitions have been tightened, or “onetime” vs. “one time” spelling blunders have been corrected. However, each piece needs its chance to meet the world.
I like ending on this note. No matter what we write, our ideas deserve their shot with an audience outside of ourselves.
Thank you so much, Kristina Wright, for taking the time to chat about your process, and happy writing, everyone!
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