Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Nuts and Bolts

While I grumped in Nayna's room this morning just after 6 AM, fixing the bed I had put together just this weekend, I realized the whole process was a lot like writing.

Having put the bed together all by myself, I was pretty proud of the results. Once we got the bed skirt and bright red sheets on, it looked pretty dang cute. Her room was clean, the bed was nice to look at, and I was happy. Everything seemed great.

Until you put weight on it. And then it was, as much as I tried to deny it, wobbly. Very wobbly. "It'll be fine," I thought, having already spent so much time putting the bed together that I didn't want to figure out what was wrong with it.

And then yesterday when Dojo enthusiastically climbed on it, the matress fell off the frame. Annoyed, I did a quick fix, pulling it back up and jamming everything into place. "That should do it," I thought.

Served me right that when I went to collapse on it in the pre-dawn light, hoping my kids would just play and let me doze, it fell apart yet again. This time there was no denying it. While it looked good and had the potential to be a very nice bed, I hadn't spent the time I needed to in making sure that the little pieces--the nuts and bolts--were as tight and well-built as they needed to be. I had to spend my morning moving aside the big parts so that I could tweak and tighten the little ones. It was annoying and I was very grouchy, but now Nayna has a bed that looks good AND holds up under pressure.

I'm sure you've all figured out my point by now: My writing metaphors are very, very boring.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Seriously. I'm done with the first draft of Paranormalcy. Honestly, I'm very bummed. I hate that time between finishing a manuscript and starting the first edit. I'm plagued by self-doubt and questioning every choice that I made. Fortunately when I start reading for the edit I usually perk right back up when I realize I was being an idiot and it's actually good stuff.

So...I need a reader for when I finish the first edit, probably by this weekend. Someone who hasn't read either of my other books. If you are interested, please email me a 1,000 word essay on "Why I Deserve to Read Kiersten's Novel."

Kidding. So, so kidding. (UPDATE: For now I think I'm going to stick with my original betas. Thank you SO MUCH for your interest though, it really means a lot to me.)

I'm a little nervous about this one. It's a huge departure for me, first person and very different in tone. I'm also keeping this one very close to my chest, thus the reason there haven't been snippets since the intro. Sorry folks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Writer's Life: Photo Essay

A Photo Essay of the Young Novelist working on her new manuscript*

Hmmm...okay, where do I need this chapter to go? What happened last? What on earth am I doing? Have I really been sitting here for fifteen minutes without typing a word? I should probably stop making this face and start writing.

Okay, that was good. How much did I get... 200 words? That's it? Man. I wonder...the idea I had about Lend's mom connecting their dreams, that just isn't working for me. What if...

No, that's lame. What other connections do they have? How can they have this conversation? Is my forehead really this shiny? Focus, focus...

OH MY GOSH. THAT'S IT! Holy crap, how did I not see it before? This is going to be so awesome I'm kind of scared.

Okay, how the heck do you talk about something that your narrator can barely see? How do you describe nearly invisible? Why couldn't I have picked a nice, easy, traditional love interest? Oh, that's right, because I love Lend and he's adorable. I can do this...

Wait a second...I have chocolate! There's some hidden in the cupboard! I totally need a chocolate break. Chocolate would make this chapter about a million times better, I know it. Alright, sugared up, back to work.

Where was I? Am I scowling again? Dangit, writing is going to give me permanent wrinkles between my eyebrows. I've got to choose a different face to make while I'm deep in thought. Still, Paranormalcy is worth a few wrinkles, right? And a few extra pounds, because I hear the chocolate calling my name again...

*All images have been dramatized. No actual writing occurred during photo shoot. Were images accurate, Laptop would feature prominently and earbuds would be dangling from either side of writer's head. Writing does not guarantee wrinkles. Adverse effects of excessive writing can include dizziness, lack of sleep, confusion, and death of social life. Kiersten assumes no legal responsibility for any injuries sustained should you attempt to imitate eyebrow expressions. Use as directed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

An Open Love Letter

Dear Bed,

I love you. Right now, sitting here listening to my kids play, all I want to do is crawl back in and snuggle down. And ever since you got those new sheets, those glorious, nice sheets, for Christmas, things are better than ever.

I know we've gone through some rough patches. It still makes me want to cry remembering how distant we were from each other with both of the babies. I spent most of my time on the couch and in the rocking chair. But you know that I always wanted to be with you, right? When I was sobbing in the middle of the night in the rocking chair because we hadn't spent quality time together in weeks, just the idea of you in there without me was torture.

Sometimes I don't give you the attention I know you deserve. I mean, come on, when was the last time I made you? It's not that I don't want you to look nice, but when you're all done up like that you feel so, I don't know, inaccessible. I like you just the way you are--you don't need to worry about fancy bedspreads and throw pillows. You're beautiful.

And you inspire me, you know that? I didn't have a single new idea until last week, dozing in your warm embrace during naptime. And then, BAM, there was Paranormalcy! I know right now it seems like my writing is coming between us. I don't sleep as much, I'm coming in later and later, and naptime is completely gone. But I think we both know I'm happier when I'm writing, and that by the time I finally crawl to bed I'm even more grateful and in love than I would be if I was just heading in early out of boredom.

So please don't feel bad. Manuscripts will come and go, but you'll always be an obsession.

Can't wait to see you again--


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Excuse me?

I'm sitting here trying to think of a good post, and my brain is doing this:


See, it's on a different wavelength. I was trying to force it to recount in a clever and entertaining way the time a boy slapped my butt when I was in ninth grade and I was so shocked I couldn't even react, much less give him the severe telling off I had always thought I would whip out in such a circumstance.

Instead, my brain keeps trying to change the channel. "The infirmary! You need to describe what the doctor looks like! And you can interject this funny aside as a break from all of the seriousness going on! Do it! Write it! Ignore your blog! Get back to Paranormalcy! NOW!"

The perils of an obsessive personality type, I suppose. But Paranormalcy? I freaking love this manuscript.

Friday, January 2, 2009

How to Write

Yesterday my darling aunt called. My cousin (whom I believe is a senior in high school) had an assignment to write a short story. As much as she wanted to, she simply could not get started. My aunt asked me if I could give her some advice or ideas to help her out. I thought I'd do the same for you. Keep in mind this applies equally well to deciding you're going to write a short story or deciding you're going to write a novel. Heck, it even applies to scholarly or work-related writing.

Step One: Decide you're going to write a story.

Step Two: Decide it's going to be brilliant. Imagine the response of your [teacher, classmates, reading group, agent] and how it will completely change the way they look at you.

Step Three: Open up Word.

Step Four: Stare at the blank white screen stretching on into infinity until your eyes begin to burn and your brain hurts from the sheer emptiness of it all.

Step Five: Check your email.

Step Six: Stare at the blank Word document again.

Step Seven: Realize you need music. Spend the next hour finding the perfect "mood" music for what you want to write.

Step Eight: Inspired by [insert perfect music here], click back over to Word document.

Step Nine: Change Facebook status to: [Your name here] is WRITING!!!

Step Ten: Stare at blank Word document. Decide you need a title. Brainstorm for the next hour.

Step Eleven: Come up with a GENIUS title. Proudly type "The Scent of Green Papayas" at the top of the document, followed by your name. Happily consider how easily a story will come now that you have such an amazing, literary title.

Step Twelve: Take a four hour break for snacks and naptime.

Step Thirteen: Refreshed, sit down and toy around with pen names for a while.

Step Fourteen: Realize to your horror that your genius title is actually the name of a Vietnamese foreign film you saw seven years ago.

Step Fifteen: Erase the title, pressing Backspace much harder than necessary.

Step Sixteen: Stare at the blank Word document until your eyes bleed.

Step Seventeen: Check Facebook. See that fourteen people have commented on your status, asking what you are writing. Feel both guilty and annoyed.

Step Eighteen: Slam your laptop shut and go to the movies. Tomorrow's a better day for writing, anyhow.

See? You never knew writing was so easy!