I'm back!

Friday, January 21, 2011 6:54 AM Posted by Kristin Dennis 0 comments

So this is how I blog. I'm earnest. I find myself composing blog posts all day long in my head. I even write one or two.

And then two months go by.

Suddenly, I remember the blog. Oh no! It's been two months and I didn't post anything! I rush to the blog and write an apology entry. "I can't believe it's been two months! I am going to try to be better about posting! Blah, blah, blah."

So I write one or two entries. And then I promptly forget about the blog for another two months.

(See the Knit Nook blog for examples of this behavior.)

I know. It's not like I haven't been busy. We graduated. I had a baby. The holidays. Whatever, it's no excuse since being busy also means that there's a ton to blog about. I totally meant to post about graduating. I even took pictures of our theses (which were essentially pictures of white boxes filled with paper--what a riveting blog post that would have been!) and I had this whole eloquent thing where I was going to talk about our time at Spalding and how it all can fit into a boring white box, but it was so much more than that, etc. It didn't happen.

But then I had a baby. And I was going to post about that. How life changing the experience was and how I'm a different person but I'm still the same person and my hopes and fears and how giving birth and finishing a novel really do parallel one another...blah blah blah. Yeah, that didn't happen either.

And here I am. The kid is 6 weeks old. It's been two months since we graduated. I got a Kindle for a graduation present and I've been reading like crazy. We got a Wii for Christmas and I've been streaming Netflix nonstop. Oh, and I've been figuring out this whole mother thing. And then suddenly, I remembered the blog. It was the same old guilt, but something was different. I didn't feel like I should be writing a blog post. I felt like I had to.

Because I haven't been writing very much. I'm trying desperately to write a very detailed outline of my next book so that I'll have a plan. But outlining isn't writing. And anytime I try to write for real, this is what happens.

Sure, just as quickly, she puts herself to sleep. But I find that I'm not nearly as focused as I once was. (REALLY? YOU THINK?!) Which is why I think the outline is such a great exercise for me. And hopefully, it will solve the 100 page problem. You know the one, where you write furiously and then all of a sudden you're somewhere in the middle of the novel and you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next. Oh wait. That doesn't happen to you because you outline. I rest my case.

But I've just been feeling a little out of sorts. January always does it to me because the sidewalks are too icy for walking or running. I also always feel this way when I'm in between books. I'm also dangerously under employed right now and will soon to be unemployed all together in a few months and for whatever reason I can't seem to get my ass in gear and send my CV out. And then the baby won't stop crying when all I want to do is check my email or take a shower, let alone write an amazing novel that will actually sell this time. I was so afraid that when I had a baby, I wouldn't be able to write. But it's so much more than that.

But today: the baby fell asleep on her own.

And I remembered the blog. And I thought, "Today is the day. I'm going to write something!"

By the way, this is a rug that my grandparents got in South America in the 1970s and they had it framed. It hung on the guest room wall of their house my entire childhood. And their guest room was very grandparenty--floral wall paper, doilies, my grandmother's doll collection--so this neon rooster stuck out like...well, a neon rooster. But I LOVED IT. Always. So a few years ago when my grandparents were downsizing and giving all their shit away, I made the biggest stink about how I wanted that rooster and it was mine and I had claimed it when I was ten...until finally my brother said, "Jesus, Kristin. Nobody is fighting you for that thing. It's yours, believe me!" (It was a rerun of my great-grandmother's mink stole, the one with the five heads with the glass bead eyes and the little wire hands.)

So I took the rooster home and in spite of tremendous misgivings, my husband put the thing in our bedroom. I just love it. It's like falling asleep in my grandparents guest room every night. Except without the creepy dolls. And the doilies. And I'm in bed with my husband and can have sex without worrying that my grandmother will hear us.

Someday, when I have an office, this rooster is going on the wall. In the mean time, it can stimulate the brain of my growing daughter. Because if anything can get the synapses firing, it's a big neon rooster! (And you can quote me on that one!)

Thanks for reading the most random post ever.

It's good to be back.


What happened?

Dear Kristin,

November evaporated. I turned around one day and suddenly it was almost Christmas. Just a few seconds ago I was eating left-over Halloween candy, emailing you about how excited I am about our Graduation Residency and then BAM, it's time for me to make some futile attempt at Christmas shopping. 
I got all Holmesian... started looking for clues.  I found things like this:
 And this...
 And this...
And I can only conclude than somewhere along the line... we graduated.  Yes. I think it's safe to assume that we are in possession of our MFAs and can now approach the publishing and teaching world with new vigor and confidence and looming student loan payments. YES!



Dear Kristin,

Wow it's been busy around here. I finally finished my thesis and turned it in (thanks for your help on that) and I got my Graduation Lecture all ready. I got down to work on my Teaching Workshop Lesson Plan while also applying for adjunct jobs when, totally out of the blue, came a pretty cool email.

A few months ago I sent a query and the first pages of my first novel to a small press.  I didn't hear anything from them after the 3 to 4  months their website suggested it would take for review. So, I sort of forgot about it and went back to work on my second novel which became my thesis. This past Thursday, I got an email from an assistant editor who said, "I really loved the first pages and would love to see the full MS before passing it on to our head editor."

OK, so I know I shouldn't get too worked up about it.  I know that this is still a long shot. I know the odds are against me. But... I also know I made it past the slush pile. And this fact makes me happy. So, for now, while I get back to planning my lesson and applying for jobs, I'm reveling in the knowledge that somewhere out there, my first novel is being read by someone who isn't you or me. That's pretty cool.

Finally took some extra pictures so you can see:
a) what a pretty day in LA looks like
b) how ridiculously long my hair is
c) that I actually do leave the house now and again


When this is all over...

Dear Kristin,

I think I finished my thesis tonight.  Like you, I feel that it's probably not done... but I'm certainly DONE.  Writing Antigone was a lot like running a marathon... barefoot... over hot coals.  It took forever, I wasn't fully prepared, and I tried to get it over with as quickly as possible to avoid injury and the loss of my mental health.  I go back and forth a lot with this book.  There are times when I'm so proud of it, that I think it has great potential, that all I need to do is give it a good spit and polish and I'll be able to wrangle an agent and some how sell this monster.  But, of course, most days I just think it's been a massive time suck and I ought to have been using all those precious hours on short stories. 

Speaking of stories... I miss them.  I'm tired of this damn marathon.  I want to break from the pack, turn off onto a trail, sprint for a little while and see how far I've gone.  I love that I can write a short story in an afternoon, spend a few days revising it, let it rest, look at it again and then start sending it out into the world. 

Maybe when I've sent in the thesis version of Antigone, a paltry 90 page intro to the 300 page book, I'll get off my own back about it.  Spend a couple weeks reading.  Crank out a short story or two.  Take some naps.  Watch a monster load of X-Files, Community, and Star Trek.  And maybe then I'll really feel up to tackling Antigone.

I'm going to go look at my formatting again and then call it a night.


I'm Done.


So I finished my creative thesis, another draft of my novel Life After Martyrs (one thing I can't figure out: is it Life After Martyrs or Life after Martyrs? I figure Kathleen Driskell will tell me which one it is. Since it's the title of my practically finished novel, I almost want to call it LIFE AFTER MARYTRS!!! BITCHES!!! But I'm not sure if that's the best title for a YA novel with serious themes and crossover appeal).

Anyway, I "finished." It's so difficult to know when you're done. I told Robin in my cover letter that even if I wasn't "done," I was DONE. I literally couldn't read through it anymore. It's like when you say the same word over and over again and it just dissolves in your mouth and your tongue gets swollen with it.

But that's always been my problem. Not just with revision--in school, I was always the first person to finish a test or turn in a paper but I absolutely refused to read over my work--but particularly with revision. I know some people talk about loving revision, spending years painstakingly adjusting sentences, but I'm not like that. I write in a fury, I pour myself into it, so when it's done, I'm done.

But it's the story of my life. Here I am at 30 weeks. I'm not done--still another 10 weeks to go--but I'm DONE.

Just imagine how big I'm going to be during residency!


Middle Of The Book

Dear Kristin,

How is it already time for lunch where you live?  I just woke up, stumbled to the tea kettle, and briefly considered going back to bed.  I never imagined the time difference would make the distance between myself and nearly every one I've ever known feel so real.  I imagine writing these letters on precious paper with a quill pen, having them delivered by the pony express or something, and winding up on your neighbor's door six months later, only to be blown away by the wind.  At least now there's this.

I envy your beach time.  Even though we now only live the miles from a gorgeous beach,  we've been so busy, so much, that I've only been once.  Having only one car doesn't help.  But, I'm sure that once we get into a routine and familiarize ourselves with this place, we'll be able to go sit on the beach and read all day.  In the meantime, I'm revising and revising and revising.

The rewrite was a little bumpy, but on the whole not too bad, until I got to the current chapter.  Two characters meet, they make friends, they begin a new chapter (literally) together.  Why is this so hard?  Why does it continue to ring false?  When I wrote this chapter the first time it was hard.  It drove me a little crazy and I had to watch endless amount of Cheers reruns to recover.  Here we are again and Geraldine is driving me crazy.  Hopefully I'll get past it today and my next post to you will be about how successful I feel the rewrite went.

For now, I'm going  for a run.  Hoping to clear my head.

I'll leave you with a picture of me and the ocean. 


A Sorry Excuse


Aren't you glad that you decided to start a blog with me? You moved across the country--bought a new car, packed up your house, gave away most of your possessions, drove 3000+ miles--and managed to get a substantial amount of revision done on your novel AND you blogged.

And after weeks of radio silence, here's my sorry-ass attempt to blog back.

I'm really a terrible blogger. You could blame it on my hectic life. Sure, I've been busy. About the time you headed out west, we went up to Massachusetts for a week.

Here is the one and only picture I took of our journey:

Ohio corn fields. Unfortunately, the drive from Kentucky to Massachusetts does not contain much purple mountain majesty. This is pretty much what Ohio and most of Pennsylvania looks like.

But we spent the week in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I love New England beaches. The weather is temperamental, the ocean is bitterly cold, and the beaches are pebbly and covered in seaweed. You really feel like you're earning your beach in New England, know what I'm saying? So I was in a really beautiful locale for days and days and most of my time was spent walking on the beach, sitting in a chair looking at the beach, reading novels and falling asleep--on the beach. And here is the only picture:

Noticing a trend? I think I'm a terrible blogger not because I'm not a good writer, but because I fail to document my life extensively enough. What the hell is the good of an iPhone if I can't even click a few pictures now and then of what's going on?

But sure, I've been distracted. I too have been finishing a novel and trying to get through school. We've been renovating the house (some more). And I've been gestating a freaking human being! (All of these activities, by the way, seem to require a lot of time dedicated to watching episodes of Angel.)

(This is what I see what I look down. And still 11 weeks to go...)

So anyway, I'm a sorry excuse for a blogger. But we're Separated at the Hip, with a whole big country and three time zones stretching endlessly between us. So I guess you're stuck with me!