Miranda Kenneally

Mexican Food Cures Writer's Block

Archive for December, 2009

My Thoughts on GOING BOVINE

Holy shit.

(But I would’ve liked to have seen more of Cameron’s family and past)

Spoiler alert!

And Stalin totally had it right when he said one death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.

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The Importance of Muzak

I hate Muzak. I hate being in the grocery store and having to listen to the incessant groaning of pop-sounding music that’s trying way too hard. I’ll be strolling along, throwing frozen pizzas and cases of Diet Coke (my sister-in-law thinks I’m going to die from an Aspertame overdose) and Tostitos’ queso in my cart, and all I can think is, “If this music is the soundtrack of my life, my life must seriously suck.”

I don’t even get Muzak. I mean, is it supposed to make people feel comfortable? Happier? I’m sure it’s impregnated with hidden messages telling me to buy Tostitos’ queso, but does it really make me feel happier about shopping? Nope. In fact, I hate grocery shopping so much I have it down to a science. I can be in and out with $100 worth of groceries in about 10 minutes. God forbid Whole Foods (Whole Paycheck) or Giant change their aisle placement, because I’d probably have a nervous breakdown like I did at Target recently when I discovered they’d switched the electronics and groceries sections.

Anyway, the real thing I wanted to talk about is how important music is to my writing process. Important to any writer’s process, actually. When looking at authors’ acknowledgment pages, they tend to thank bands and musicians just as often as they thank their friends and editors and agents.

For instance, I’ve got two first drafts right now, and I know the complete stories for both manuscripts, but I can’t seem to finish them because I can’t find the right music to listen to.  When I wrote my first novel, a story about a boy from a dystopic society coming to Earth for the first time, I listened to tons of rap and hard rock (Thank you Flo Rida, Rihanna, Linkin Park, T.I., Chris Brown, Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Paramore, Lady Gaga, Crowded House…). When I wrote my southern love story, I listened solely to sappy country music (thanks Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks, Alison Krauss, the Kinleys, Deanna Carter).

Right now I’m working on a dual-narration YA novel about matchmaking, Quiz Bowl (geeky trivia squad), and suck-ass parents, and I can’t find the right music at all.  I’ve been doing a bit of Dave Matthews, some All-American Rejects… but none of it is working. I need the right music to find the right voice!

And for my other first draft, a post-apocalyptic thing, which I don’t want to say too much about, seems to require lots of classical.  So I’ve downloaded the 50 greatest overtures of all time, and I hope that will work.  (It should, I think the main reason I’m having problems with this first draft is that I need to do lots of research on hydroelectricity, which scares the shit out of me).

Anyhow – just wanted to talk a little about how important music is to me, and to all of us, and how it shapes our stories.

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The Snuggie: The downfall of humankind?

Today, I saw that Chad Ochocinco has a Bengals Snuggie, which made me laugh for about ten minutes straight, but also totally upset me because I really hate those things.  I mean, you see these commercials where grown men are wearing these giant blankets and sitting around “raising the roof” with their families. That’s crazy!

Just over a hundred years ago, men were chopping down trees to build their own log homes.  They plowed land to feed their families.  They forded rivers in covered wagons, losing oxen and children.

And now?  They wear leopard-print blankets and raise the roof as they watch Dancing with the Stars.

My coworker thinks that with the advent of the Snuggie, more people will be watching TV than ever.  Why get up and move around to keep warm when you can just sit in your warm Snuggie and eat potato chips?

So in conclusion, only NFL players are allowed to have Snuggies, because at least we know they are doing something requiring physical exertion.

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Most Recent Trip to ER and Adventures with Valium

I’ll admit it.  I recently hurt my shoulder rolling over on a loveseat.

Yes, a loveseat.

At first, I thought I’d just tweaked it.  I got up and watched the movie Michael Clayton. I hoped a little George Clooney would cheer me up, and it sort of did, but my shoulder was killing me.  Then I went out to lunch at a nice B&B.  At the B&B, my mother-in-law (MIL) and I were trying to have an in-depth conversation about her poetry when I started sliding down in my chair to the point I couldn’t sit up anymore.  I drank 3 glasses of wine and hoped the pain would go away.  It didn’t.  While MIL was very pleased that I understood what she was trying to do/say with her poetry, she thought my shoulder/neck injury had taken a turn for the worse.

So off to the ER we went.  By the time I got there, I could barely sit or lie down. I could only stand with my right hand on my head while leaning to the right.  I couldn’t move my neck.  The doctors gave me this shot of Valium, which I thought was a painkiller.

Valium, actually, is a drug used to make a person not care about pain.  It doesn’t erase the pain, it just makes you not able to focus or care about anything.

Turns out that I have something called torticollis, which is caused by stress.  My MIL told the doctors I was stressed out because I had been battling State Magazine (oh the drama), and they agreed that’s probably why I was having these severe back spasms.

Anyway, while on Valium for three days, the following things happened:

1) I rode from Boston to D.C. without even noticing the drive happened. I don’t remember any of it.

2) I spent 45 minutes staring at my critique partner’s pages thinking, “This isn’t right. This isn’t what happens here. I know she changed it.” 45 minutes later, I realized I had opened the wrong file.

3) I tried to work on my new manuscript, a dual narration of a boy and a girl, both in first person. In the middle of a scene, I started writing both characters in first person. In the same scene! Again, I didn’t notice this for at least two hours I think.

4) I don’t remember anything else that happened during the three days of Valium.  But I remember being very “at peace” with the world and life in general.

So maybe if we give a bunch of troublemakers like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong Il some Valium, the world might be a safer place. Who’s with me?

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