Miranda Kenneally

Mexican Food Cures Writer's Block

Archive for May, 2010

20 Things to Say

Madeleine Rex totally inspired me to do this. She’s about the coolest teenager I know.

So here are 20 things I want to say to people who shall remain nameless. Pretty sure I’ll never say any of this stuff. 🙂

1. I am fairly certain you married a succubus.
2.  Your shoes reek! Get them out of the hallway already!
3.  I can’t stand how you never do any work, but somehow get oodles of credit.
4.  I wish I was as smart as you.
5.  Get a job.
6.  How come you never remember a word I say?
7.  I am sorry I stopped talking to you, but now I don’t know how to start again, and I want to.
8. Even though you’re a democrat, you sure know how to WASTE money.
9. I kind of have a crush on you, even though you’re a girl, and I’m not gay.
10. Get a job.
11. I hate that you stopped talking to me. I didn’t deserve that at all.
12. Chill.
13. There’s nothing you can do.
14. Everything you say is freaking hilarious.
15. I would like to clone you.
16. I’m sorry the last thing I ever said to you before you died was something totally snarky. I regret it so much.
17. Your hobbies as of late are truly made of suck. Let’s go back to all-night marathons of West Wing!
18. Your actions lack strategery.
19. Why do you try to talk me out of pursuing my dreams when all I do is support you?
20. Four turkey sandwiches do not cost $100, even if I’m grabbing soda too. But thanks for offering to let me keep the change.

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Finding Material (and great pics)

With writing comes lots of staring off into space, and nail biting, and waiting.

So when I have writer’s block or I’m taking a break from a book (so necessary!), I try to catch up on reading (any aspiring writer has homework!) and try to get out and see what’s going on in the neighborhood.  In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott always suggests carrying a note card with you wherever you go, so you can jot ideas down.

I can’t tell you how often I use this trick. I mean, I write down experiences, smells, quotes, sights. EVERYTHING. And sometimes I really do end up using these ideas in my writing.

This other cool book I like – The Observation Deck, talks about how important specifics are to your writing, e.g. instead of saying, “He ate a piece of fruit under a tree,” you should write, “He ate an apple under a willow.”

I like books that have quirky, yet specific, random things in them. This book I just read had a neat scene set in a playground next to some rusted train tracks. I loved the visual.

If you need inspiration, get out and take a look around for some great material, like this stuff I found:

Wasabi-colored Dream Car

Monkey teasing baby deer!

R2D2 Mailbox = Epitome of Awesomeness

Hot guy on LL Bean catalog cover (hey! character descriptions are important, too!)

This has nothing to do with Halloween. WTF?

Lamb roasting

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Throwing myself into a pit of humiliation

So my crazy friend and Survivor-watcher Emily (@emilytastic on twitter) is constantly talking about how she loved Hanson more than anything in high school. Now she’s uploading scans of her high school journal on her blog. I especially enjoy her stories about how the evil biology teacher ridiculed her in front of the whole class for liking Hanson. WTF?

(Off subject, but my favorite high school memory of Hanson happened when I was listening to “Mmmbop” and my dad said, “Damn, those girls sure can sing.”)

Therefore, in total solidarity with Emily, I shall post a poem I wrote in high school. This is actually the least offensive and least embarrassing poem I could find. I love that I used the word “emanate” in HS. What a dork I was (am).

Even though this poem is complete crap, I’m happy I found it, cause it just reinforces how much I’ve always enjoyed writing. And it’s great to see how much I’ve grown. But in some ways, I’m very much the same, as this resembles stuff I write now…

It was time again,

for the annual county fair.

It would be leaving tomorrow,

packed away, back into its trucks,

to keep us in suspense,

for another, whole year.

The unique smell of that night

is forever burned into me.

Cotton candy and funnel cakes,

mixed with the exhaust of cigarette smoke.

Stars littered the sky,

as I was thrown around on cheap rides.

We left the fair, the two of us-

in search of cheap wine coolers,

and solitude as well.

The crisp, night air whipped through my hair,

and raced across my cold skin.

I sat on the hood of his Mustang,

where heat was still emanating from the engine.

I was wrapped in his huge, flannel shirt,

staring at the moon’s reflection on the lake’s clear surface.

He bent over to kiss my lips,

and held me tight.

Soon after, it was over.

He moved on to her.

To kiss her lips.

To hold her head to his chest.

To wrap her in his shirt,

leaving me only with the everlasting memory,

Of the last night of the fair.

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Memories… Yours to Use?

So I’m finally going to sit down tonight and start mapping out a new novel, an idea that came to me after some idiot broke into my car, busting the window, thus making a big ole mess of glass. And the idiot didn’t even steal anything! ….But I digress.

So as I’m standing outside with the cops for about 3 hours, because they want to do a thorough investigation, INSPIRATION STRIKES. The broken glass reminded me of when I had just turned 16, and I took my mom’s prized convertible out for a spin with some friends. In trying to get the top down, somehow I ended up shattering the entire back window. Yeah, I know, I didn’t get to drive the frickin’ convertible for a while.

Anyway, I’ve decided to write a YA novel based on a tiny event that took place my junior year of high school. Tiny in that no one else in their right mind would ever remember this BUT ME.

While thinking through potential characters and events for the story, it dawned on me that using more true stories from high school would be hilarious. Nothing that’s bad, or would even get anyone into trouble, but still. They’re stories that belong to other people, as well as me.

Am I allowed to use them? Do I need to ask my old friends if I can write about those experiences?

How much does a writer have to change from a memory in order to make it fiction?

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AWOL (Nuclear Summit-ing) and writing is hard

I look like death, but that's okay.

I look like death, but that's okay.

Yes, I’ve been AWOL from my website for a while. I’m a better Twitter-er than I am a blogger. Not sure why, but I’m sure it has something to do with me being an instant-gratification-kind-of person (e.g. I’d rather go buy a cup of coffee than wait while it brews, and by the time the previews are over at a movie, I’m ready to go home). But anyway, the reason it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything on here is because I’ve been off Nuclear Summit-ing at my day job.

I’ve worked on big international summits before, usually doing the stuff that gets the most attention like the food, coffee, and hotels (Just kidding! I do whatever I’m told.  😀 ) — but this time I actually got to be the overall site coordinator, which was huge. Millions of dollars in contracts and people to manage.

It’s definitely one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever faced.

Now here’s the weird part: While at the Nuke Summit, I discovered that writing is about 100 million times harder than my day job. It was funny — people would walk up and say:

“Are you okay, Miranda?”  “Can we get you something to eat, Miranda? You look so busy and tired.” “Can we help with anything, Miranda?”

Me: Thinking about this book I’m writing is making my brain hurt. It might dissolve into liquid goo.

Them: Um, okay.

Me: By the way, you hung the Ukrainian flag upside down.

Sure, coordinating a big event requires me to pay attention to an obscene amount of details. Writing is just like that. It’s getting all the major players and pieces in place, and then making sure they work together.

If I don’t pay attention to every single last word, I might end up with an upside-down character.

To put it all into perspective: I think I had several hundred little things to worry about at the Nuclear Summit.

With a 70,000-word novel, that’s 70,000 little details to worry about.

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