Posted on January 5th, 2009 by Anna Jarzab
Yo yo yo check it you guys: somebody saw fit to interview me. Psych! I twisted her arm and made her do it, and by “her” of course I mean my friend Katie. We did this interview on December 11 and then it was Christmas and New Years and I forgot to post it because I am a loser. Sad pancakes. Whatever, better late than never. Hope this tells you some random information about me you never knew, as interviews should.
Oh, and I suppose I should warn you that this is rather long. Enjoy!
Katherine: so let’s talk books and writing and all that jazz-o-la
me: let’s do it to it
Katherine: so i looked over my questions that i wrote out ages ago when you first asked me to do this and . . to be honest they’re kind of lame
but let’s see how some of them go anyway
me: okay, we’ll make them fun
Katherine: soooo, books and stuff
lame question numero uno:
when did you first realized you wanted to be a writer (this is a lame question because everyone must ask this but seriously i want to know because it feels like you’ve known you’ve wanted to be a writer forever)
me: good question
i don’t know the answer
in my head, it’s age eleven, because that’s how old Mallory from the BSC was when she was “writing her novel”
me: yeah, but probably around that time, twelve or thirteen or something
Katherine: btw you and this interview just went big screen in my browser, now its on
me: hahaha awesome
Katherine: mallory, excellent
me: IMAX interview
Katherine: i always really didn’t like mallory actually
Katherine: like less than . . kristy . . .
me: yeah i didn’t like her either, but i think i got to the point where i was like, “that bitch is writing a novel? i can do that!”
wow, that’s harsh
Katherine: haha, nice
me: less than kristy?
Katherine: yeah, hard to believe
me: it is
so yeah, probably around then
i know i was serious about it in high school already, i finished my first novel or whatever my senior year
Katherine: what’s the most important thing you did as a precocious teenage novel writer that you felt helped prepare you to get where you are Ms. Tenner and all
me: haha um i kept my crappy writing to myself
i was so secretive about it
because mostly i was writing thinly veiled plagiarism of the books i was reading at the time
Katherine: do you like the novel you wrote in HS?
me: i haven’t seen it in a really long time
i seem to have lost copies of all of my trunk novels, as we call them in the biz
they live on now only in my memory, which is a good thing, because i think if i read any of them now i’d be disgusted by how bad they were
Katherine: that’s your legacy! not something disgusting
me: no seriously dude
they are ridiculously bad
Katherine: fine fine
what’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?
me: the worst writing advice…i have to give this a think for a second
well, nonspecifically i think any writing advice that is touted as THE ONLY WAY TO DO IT is categorically incorrect
and there’s a lot of that floating around the net
i can’t think of anything specific, but also pretty much all advice i got from people in my writing classes in college was bad
Katherine: okay, next question then! onwards and upwards!
me: haha i’m a terrible interviewee!
Katherine: what are some ways you deal with creativity “doledrums”? (honestly, i wrote doledrums on this piece of paper here)
me: i listen to a lot of music and i read a lot of books
and also i write a lot of stupid things that will never see the light of day
Katherine: you read a lot of books period!
me: somebody smart (not me) once said that writing is like a muscle and you go stale if you don’t use it or something
yeah, i do, but i read more, and i try to read a variety of stuff in lots of different genres
but also, if you’re not feeling creative, sometimes it’s best to just take a break
i come at writing really organically, as in i only write when i have ideas, so if i don’t have an idea i don’t strain too hard, none of my good ideas ever came from that
Katherine: i think you’re mixing your metaphors there ma’am unless my muscles really can go stale
in which case
that might explain the smell
me: shame on me
Katherine: how do you feel about the idea of writing communities?
me: writing communities…i think there are a lot of people that get a lot out of them
but i know for pretty much a fact that i am not one of those people
i don’t have critique partners, either, which a lot of people do
i’m a really solitary writer
so i don’t want to be all, “i don’t need a writing community, i’m too cool for that!” but I also think there’s a point where writing groups can hold you back
you don’t need feedback on every page, i think that can stifle you
and most people, even other writers, don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to your work
which is not to say all feedback or critique from other people is wrong
it’s not very black and white, it’s a personal thing, and personally i eschew it
Katherine: what do you do when you’ve finished writing a book?
me: throw myself a party
Katherine: streamers and balloons?
and bud light?
i start working on something new
because i usually have about one or two things waiting in the queue (in my head)
and i need time before i can revise
Katherine: what part of the writing process is the most difficult for you?
and i’m not even just saying that because that’s what i’m doing right now
i really hate it
me: it’s hard and it forces you to look at all the flaws and the truth is that those flaws are YOUR fault and YOUR responsibility to fix
it’s all very discouraging to me
Katherine: sounds scary.
me: yeah it is i’m not going to lie
i’m grateful to people for pointing these things out to me, but grudgingly so
and this is not me smack talking my agent or editor, they’re brilliant and just doing their jobs
me: it’s the drama queen in my head wailing and flailing about
Katherine: how do you feel about your first go on the publishing merry-go-round?
me: publishing merry-go-round…
well, nothing too crazy as of yet
i’m actually really happy with my experience so far
i’m sure there will be parts i don’t like in the future, parts that are scary and hectic, but to me, right now, everything seems to be working as well as i expected and even a little bit better
Katherine: as you’re working on a book and you’re getting your ideas out there, what is a thing that you think enables to do it? like actually write a book?
me: hm, what do you mean?
like what makes it possible to get from concept to “the end”, as it were?
actually that is really what my questions was almost verbatim
but then i changed it
me: haha we’re psychically connected, i have proof
me: well at first i think it’s a lot of fumbling around, when you first start writing, your first novel
at least it was for me
i just kept writing and writing until i had two hundred and fifty pages or so
they were absolute crap, but they were there
now it’s different
now i prepare
i come up with a concept and i do a lot of pre-writing–character manifestos, synopses, maps, etc.
i need that synopsis, it’s like that string theseus uses to get through the labyrinth [Loser! -ed.]
having a reference point whenever i’m stumped usually saves me at more than one point
but more abstractly i think you really have to believe in your story
i come up with a lot of ideas that don’t flesh out into novels, because they don’t take root in me
so you have to be incredibly persistent and be emotionally invested in the work, which then you have to shake off as well as you can when you’re querying and getting all these rejections
Katherine: i’m guessing you learned a lot during those first “crappy” 250 pgs?
me: oh yeah, and i mean i wrote three crappy novels of varying lengths before i wrote one decent novel that i sold
you do learn, that’s the only way you can learn
Katherine: who’s your favorite character you’ve ever written? why?
i can’t really say why, but i suspect it’s because he’s kind of like me and i’m a narcissist?
but let’s give me the benefit of the doubt and say that’s not true
neily and i have been living together in my head for almost seven years at this point
i feel like he’s a friend of mine
but in terms of what everybody else can understand, i like him because he’s smart and he’s funny and he has a hard time trusting people but he really WANTS to, and sometimes he lets down his guard and he gets burned and he lets himself be wounded
he doesn’t pretend he’s not who he is and he feels things keenly and he doesn’t act like he doesn’t
i like that in a person
in AUT there are two narrators, and one is very emotionally honest and one is emotionally dishonest
or maybe dishonest is the wrong word
she’s more emotionally reticent
i prefer more emotionally honest people
and i like neily because, to me, he’s the ultimate emotionally honest person
me: that isn’t to say i don’t love audrey, of course i do, but for different reasons
me: any more questions?
Katherine: hmmm, how are your two unfinished projects going? are they progressing? either physically or mentally?
me: ha! no
no nothing is getting done right now on any project except AUT
i’ve been working on AUT and MB for so long, I’m interested to see what it’ll feel like to work on a project almost from scratch
that’ll happen in, like, february or something, maybe
honestly i can’t wait
me: me neither
i have no idea what they’re about!
that’s a lie, i do, but i don’t have synopses for either of them
me: and i haven’t even decided which i’m going to work on first
i guess maybe joanna will have a say in that
Katherine: do you think it will make the writing process different from beginning to end having joanna around ?
me: i’m not sure actually
i mean, technically i wrote MB while i was agented
and it didn’t really change my process
except that i had someone to immediately give me feedback
but it probably will be a little different because I knew MB was going to be my next project
me: and I had some leeway because we hadn’t sold anything at the time, and now we have and I think Random House gets first dibs on my next project
like, they get first look before we shop it around anyplace else
so probably what will happen is when i’m done with AUT and MB, I will write up proposals for both books and then joanna and i will have a discussion about which to submit, in what order or together, etc.
so i take it back, it’ll be totally different
okay well i think that’s it, really
thanks for doing this katie
me: it was super fun
i think we should do another one ages from now when AUT comes out
me: your questions weren’t lame at all
yeah we should
and then we can be all, “retrospective!”
Posted on December 4th, 2008 by Anna Jarzab
I just got an email from my friend Katie, who I sometimes mention on this blog, NOT THAT SHE EVER LEAVES COMMENTS OR ANYTHING I MEAN REALLY. It went a little something like this: