Award-winning Botswana author Lauri Kubuitsile has established herself as a writer for many genres including children’s books, romance and crime. Lauri stops by HopeRoad to share her creative writing process…
I grew up in a working class family. We were taught that a person should work hard and the work they do should put food on the table. So, I’m not that writer who knew since she was four that she was going to grow up to be a writer. I was going to be a cowboy. If not that a teacher or I wanted to work in the circus. I came to writing in a circuitous route and thanks to a big pile of hard work that now sees me having twenty of my books published, and a fair amount of good luck, I’m able to write full time and make a living wage. I know not many writers can do that, I realise my good fortune and I do not squander it.
Because of my upbringing I think, I can’t sit around and wait for my mythical muse to pitch up, writing a hundred words here and a hundred words there as the mood strikes. That’s not how I work. Writing is my job. So what that means is each day, Monday to Friday, by 9:30 am, you will find me in my office (built, I’m proud to say, with royalties from my books) ready to get to work. I work until lunch and then I’m back in the office until 5:30, 6 pm.
Though I’ve been told it is bad form, I am a generalist. I write literary fiction, I write romance, I write for kids, I write for teens, I write short stories, novellas and novels. I also write nonfiction. So when I show up at work I have a list of what needs to be accomplished that day, and from 9:30 until 5:30 or so I work to get it done.
You might wonder- what do I do when the muse doesn’t show up? I write something else. Occasionally, I can write myself to meet my muse wherever she’s hiding. On those days, I just write until I reach the zone, if it means my first few hours of work will have to be deleted, so be it. On other days, it’s just not going to happen and I need to accept that, then I do something else. Maybe I work on finding markets for short stories. I might write a post for my blog, work on my weekly column. But when I’m at work, I work.
As for the actual writing, that really depends on what I’m writing. Short stories often grow from an observation. For example, I recently wrote a story called In Graceland, about a poor woman being given a donated house. The story stems from an actual event I attended where our local prison college was handing over a house to a woman in the nearby village. Even the title was inspired by it because the band at the event was playing that Paul Simon song.
I leave the idea from the observation in my mind to germinate for some time. When it’s ready, and it’s going to work, I should be able to write the rough draft for a story in a day. If not, the story wasn’t ready and I, usually, leave it completely. I’ll save it on my computer in a folder called “story stems” just in case some day it grows legs, but for now I’m done with it.
After the rough draft is done, I’ll work on it for a few days, maybe a week and then leave it to sit a while. I leave it a month if I can, then give it one last edit before letting it take its chances in submissions world. Short stories for me should come as one block or they never really work. I shouldn’t have to fiddle too much with them in terms of content, if I do I mess them up completely. They should just come.
That’s the opposite of longer works. For longer works, I usually do a lot of pre-work by hand before I start writing anything on the computer. I write out a plot map (always on a big A3 paper), chapter synopses, and fairly detailed character bibles. Once I finally begin writing, things often change, but I like to have at least a skeleton of where I’m going before getting started. A novel or novella has too much space for me to venture in without some guidance.
So that’s it, my writing process. No magic. Just hard work and commitment, really. A smidgeon of talent. maybe, but mostly a whole lot of sticking to it.