Go behind the scenes with an award-winning author as she details what it takes for her to create one of her stories.
Leigh Comacho Rourks, a doctorate candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette speaks about the writing process she went through to write her award-winning collection of short stories “Moon Trees and Other Orphans.”
Rourks said when the voice of a character comes to her mind she does not always begin writing immediately. She said she will continue to hear the voice until she records the character’s story.
“I don’t feel like I have to know where a story is going to start writing it,” said Rourks. “A lot of the process for me is a process of discovery and curiosity. It’s sort of the excitement of reading only I’m also writing it.”
For Rourks to get into the mindset of writing a story, she said she likes to sit down on her couch with her laptop and put on a movie she has seen numerous times and listen to the dialog in the movie as she writes. According to Rourks, she rarely writes in a quiet place, she said she prefers to write in coffee shops or restaurants. When she finds her preferable writing location for the day, Rourks said she “just starts.”
Rourks said once in the mindset and the writing begins, struggles arise. One of the main struggles for Rourks is finding a specific sound for the story because she said she may like something, but the reader may not.
“Sometimes if I don’t plan ahead, I’ll reach a point in the story, and I’m like, ‘What happens next?'” said Rourks. “Then, I’ll go for a walk, I take a few days off or I talk about the story with my husband.”
Rourks said the writing process gets easier for her when she doesn’t know what will happen next, and she just writes what comes to mind.
Once the writing gets going, it’s constant revision. Rourks said she’ll write a piece one day and go back to it the next day, and she rearranges the piece or takes things out. However according to Rourks, her revisions mostly consist adding content.
“Now, I’m much more mercenary,” said Rourks. “I just get in there and cut, and I’m not as worried about change. There are a lot of words in the world. More will come to me.”
After all the revisions, a set of short stories come together to form the book “Moon Trees and Other Orphans.” The book was inspired by Rourks’ interest of places in Louisiana. “Moon Trees and other Orphans” won the 2017 St. Lawrence Book Award and consists of 16 short stories, and the bulk of the book was written in two years.
“There’s the fear of getting to the page,” Rourks said. “We don’t want to open the file. What if I have nothing to say? I think the most important thing is to just start.”