About Me

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My work can be found in REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, Pank, New Delta Review, and Gargoyle #57, among others. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. Currently, I'm an Associate editor for Narrative Magazine. In 2011, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Books, Links, Inspiration, News, and Where I'm At...

The last month or so has been an amazing transformative time for me in terms of my process. I've been working on a novel for over two years and I'm little over halfway finished with the first draft. I'm a slow writer, it's true, but unlike short stories that came before, this project has been particularly excruciating because the chapters refused to come to me in a straight linear fashion, but rather in stand-alone story form, and therefore would require me to not only write the story, revise and revise until it worked as a viable stand-alone, and then publish it (Okay, maybe that part has more to do with my insecure writer self than the process), after which I would need to go back in, alter the stand-alone so that I could weave it seamlessly into my forced linear narrative. All painstakingly slow work. And I was frustrated, dismayed, frightened, that all my novels to come would have to be written down in this way and well, it didn't make me give up, but nearly.

But! Along comes this other novel, a novel that I had begun three years ago but had put aside to write the other. And here it comes back to me, knock, knock, knocking on my door to write. it. now.

For three months or more I thought about it and worried about it and wondered can I just stop writing my first novel in the middle like this to write another. What am I thinking? Am I to now spend the next two years toiling over an elusive idea that refuses to allow me to tame it just to end up with TWO half finished novels? Ai! Even more daunting is the fact that while I may write the first draft of a short story in a week or two, it takes me months, sometimes a whole year, to revise that story. So, with this knowledge of my process and my so very limited abilities, I sweated over this decision until I finally decided to let go of any preconceived notions of what a writer should do, and just write what I want to write. What am I doing if I'm not writing for my own enjoyment? This is my journey after all and who says I need to walk it a certain way? As soon I gave myself permission to write this other story, the one that's burning to be written, and for no one else, at this point, other than myself, it started flowing. And after a few weeks of listening and writing, I've learned that to respect my own process is key, that I can actually write in a straight linear fashion (hooray!!), and that my writing this book will be key to learning how best to write my other book.

I'm going to follow this spark until it fizzles out. I've been putting in hours upon hours a day and the words are coming in a flurry and I'm writing as quickly as I can. And I know after I'm finished will come the fun part: revision, the whole part of the process I most love.

And when I'm finished with the first draft I have some amazing reading waiting for me:

Precious, by Sandra Novack; Nothing Like an Ocean by Jim Tomlinson; Big World by Mary Miller; Secret Son by Laila Lalami; The Greatest Gift and Women Up On Blocks by Mary Akers; and the latest by two of my favorite writers: Antonya Nelson and Mary Gaitskill.

These are the carrots that are keeping me in the chair. Happy reading when I'm finished!

In writing news, I'm excited that REAL, a journal that has published three of my stories previously, is publishing another one in April.

And lastly, because I saw this first on Sandy Novack's site and was so inspired that I wanted to have it here, too:

12 comments:

No Name Me said...

Hey Kat,lovely.

I think you *always* need to write the book in you! I was supposed to be putting the final strokes on my s.s. collection after the novel, and I let it go completely! (Hey, it's contracted, too, so...). My agent heard this way back in Sept. and encouraged me to write what *I* wanted to. And my editor didn't seem put off at all by pushing a collection back (I think both were honestly happy at new novel prospects, but...).

It's true we beat ourselves up, but really: You have to go in the direction you go in, at any given time. I made all my deadlines for the novel, but I know others who didn't, and I can honestly say I know the response to those writers, too, which is that everyone in publishing says, "It takes how long it takes." Or as someone I love said, "It's not done until YOU, the writer, say it is."

Don't WORRY. Just WRITE.
I love you more than many. :)
s

katrina said...

Aw, thanks, Sandy. I'm so excited about this direction and about finally having learned that I'm the driver!

You inspire me more than you know...

Love,
Kat

Ethel Rohan said...

Thank you for your post and for Elizabeth Gilbert's talk--truly inspiring. Congratulations on returning to your novel. You're clearly in the right place. It's there in the energy and joy you bring to just writing about writing your novel. Keep going, your "genius" is obviously with you. I look forward to holding the novel in my hands someday.

katrina said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Ethel! Right back at ya!

Andrew Roe said...

Hi Katrina,

A timely post! I'm also in one of those periods where I've started writing one thing and there's another thing trying to lure me away and I'm wondering what the hell to do. It's tough. But thanks for sharing. It really helps.

I like Sandra's advice too: Don't worry, just write. Now if only I could follow it...

And funny: last week I covertly watched the Elizabeth Gilbert video at work. Great talk!

Cheers,

Andy

katrina said...

Hi, Andy,

Didn't you love her talk? I found it mesmerizing and funny. Being able to do funny in front of a crowd is a gift.

Whatever you choose to work on first, you'll have two wonderful things at the end. And productivity is always good. I'm looking forward to reading them!

Andrew Roe said...

Loved her story about interviewing Tom Waits. Could totally see him looking up at the sky and saying that.

Thanks, Katrina. Looking forward to reading the fruits of your labor too!

E.P. Chiew said...

How very wonderful, Kat! I hope that spark goes on and on and on and on...

I'm reassured to know in my juggling act that I'm with such excellent company!

BlogSloth said...

I can't handle a novel. My mind doesn't move that way. I don't know. Should we write against ourselves?

Maybe.

S

katrina said...

Thanks for stopping by Elaine and good luck with your writing!

Sean: I think now more than ever, we need to write what's in us to write. I tried to go against it and for me, it didn't work.
And I like the way your mind works.

Kelly said...

Very cool to hear about your process, Katrina. I just love this post, and I think the struggle of how to proceed is something all writers can relate to in some form or another.

katrina said...

I agree, Kelly. I find I'm really interested in other writers' process stories lately. Your website is a great resource for that. It also helps to know we all struggle and take risks and push on.

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