Sunday, April 02, 2006

One Writer's Process: Sonya Sones

Poet and novelist Sonya Sones loves to hunt for buried treasure at flea markets near her home by the sea.

She brings the same passionate desire for uncovering hidden gems to her poems, short stories, and novels-in-verse, diving deeply into the emotional currents of her characters' lives and returning to the surface with gleaming jewels to share with her readers.

In each of her award-winning works--Stop Pretending, What My Mother Doesn't Know, and One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies--as well as in numerous short stories, Sones invites readers into the worlds of her characters with the sound of a voice.

It's almost instantaneous.

As soon as you begin reading, you can hear the voice of a character.

And a second later that character's world snaps vividly into focus.

Sones was kind enough to take a moment from her search for buried treasure to share some thoughts on her writing process.

Wordswimmer: If writing is like swimming... how do you get into the water each day?

Sones: I take a two mile "swim" around the neighborhood, and after awhile it gets to be like a meditation, and I start jotting down the ideas for poems that come into my head.

Wordswimmer: What keeps you afloat... for short work? For longer work?

Sones: In all of my work, both the novels and the short stories, the characters keep me afloat--my need to find out how my characters will react emotionally to the situations that I plop them into.

Wordswimmer: How do you keep swimming through dry spells?

Sones: I sit down in front of the computer, put on my water wings, place my fingers on the keys, and type--even though I know full well that what I am writing is not any good. Because I know that if I look at it again tomorrow, I will be able to come up with ways to make it better. And the day after that, even better.

Wordswimmer: What's the hardest part of swimming?

Sones: Making decisions about which direction to swim in, which pool to leap into, which stroke to use... and when to get out of the water.

Wordswimmer: How do you overcome obstacles, problems, when swimming alone?

Sones: I don't swim alone. I use the "buddy system" -- which means that I am in two different critique groups that meet on alternate weeks. So I get to have fresh feedback every week.

Wordswimmer: What's the part of swimming that you love the most?

Sones: When the sun is shining on the water, and the temperature's refreshingly bracing, and I'm moving so effortlessly through the waves that I feel as if I'm part of the sea -- in other words: when inspiration strikes!

Wordswimmer: Thanks, Sonya!

Sones: Thanks for asking these fun questions!

For more information on Sonya Sones and her work, you can check out her website where she offers further tips on writing.

You can also read another interview with her at


Laura said...

Dear Wordswimmer,

The most interesting part of the interview that you did with Sonya Sones, at least for me, is that she doesn't swim alone. She uses the "buddy" system. That's just fascinating. I mean, we all swim alone in one sense or another, but it's always good to have someone nearby to help out, if need be.

Thanks for the interview!

Chris Barton said...

This is the second post I've read this morning that has suggested to me ever-so-gently that it's time for me to get back into a critique group. If it wasn't something I needed, I doubt I would have noticed -- so thanks for posting it and prompting me.