Miranda Kenneally

Mexican Food Cures Writer's Block

Archive for June, 2013

Balance

Recently, some people have asked me how I manage my time. That’s a hard question to answer, because I don’t hold myself to any strict schedule. I kind of go with the flow and it’s worked so far. (Knock on wood: this mindset will bite me in the ass at some point.)

I generally wake up everyday at 7:15 and I have to be at work at 8:15. I rush through a shower, coffee, breakfast and get to the State Department by around 8:13. Sometimes my clothes are wrinkled and I can’t find anything to wear. Some days I don’t have time to fully dry my hair. I generally check my email and Twitter on my phone on the way to work. I’m lucky in that I only live about ten minutes from the office.

At work-work, I try to work very hard until noon. Sometimes it’s slow, in which case I will see what’s up on Twitter and Facebook. During lunch, I might write whatever book I’m writing or finish reading a book I started the night before. Occasionally I go out to lunch with friends.

I normally leave work at 5:30. I’m lucky in that my bosses think having a balanced life is important – they want me to leave work on time. Of course, there are times they ask me to stay until 7 or 8 o’clock at night. Those nights hurt my soul. Two nights a week I go to the gym and work out with a personal trainer. It’s great having somebody to pressure me into staying in shape. The other nights I generally try to go home and write, but sometimes I go out to dinner with my husband. I probably eat out way too often, but I try to eat well for the most part. (I love mac n’ cheese and french fries) My husband helps me with a lot of chores, like taking my clothes to the drycleaner and grabbing groceries after work.

On weekends, I run errands, go to the gym both days, and try to write a few thousand words. But here’s the thing – if I’m not feeling what I’m writing, I try not to force it. Instead, I go out for a walk, I read a book, I watch a movie, I do whatever. I use that time to do something else and clear my mind. It’s important to have that balance. I generally find that the minute I leave the house, I figure out what’s wrong with my story. Or I come up with some funny scene or plot twist I want to try. I’ve heard that some writers force themselves to sit at a desk and write. I don’t do that. It would drive me insane and make me get down on myself.

I admit I am a big multi-tasker. I often see people online saying they need to “get offline and write.” I figure if I have the words to write at the moment, normally I’m excited and have to get them down on paper. At moments like that I don’t even feel an urge to go online. But if I am in a lull, what’s wrong with being on Twitter? I also admit that even though I’m not a terribly social person and might go out with friends every now and then, I do like having noise around me while I’m writing. I like having the TV on. I often read and watch TV at the same time, too. It unclogs my brain.

One time a lady asked if I have kids. When I said no, she said that’s why I’m able to have a writing career. She insinuated that if I were to have kids, I wouldn’t have time to write anymore. I hate that mentality – if you love something, you should find the time to do it. Right now, writing is more important to me than having kids.

I’d be lying if I said life is always puppy dogs and margaritas. Some nights I feel like complete crap and don’t want to do anything when I get home. Some nights I leave piles of laundry sitting around. Other weeks my kitchen sink looks like a toxic waste dump. Some Friday nights, I have to down a Red Bull just to stay awake past 8:00 p.m. I never end up having enough time to answer all my emails. Sometimes I completely flip out because I’m worried I won’t finish a book in time, or that my readers will hate what I’ve written. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do great work, and when I don’t, I get down on myself. The same thing happens at my work-work at the State Department. If I make a mistake or get behind on something, I take it out on myself.

Anyway – what I am trying to say is that I try to keep a balance by just doing what I love.

How do you balance your priorities?

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Writing, and What I’m Up To

I’ve never been good at blogging. I checked my stats: in the past five years, I’ve blogged 63 times, and most of those posts have been announcements. I’ve never felt like I have much to say. But I want to try to blog more often about what I’m up to. Maybe it’ll help me get some writing ideas. (one can only hope) Anyhow, I actually have something to blog about today.

About two months ago, my editor called to talk about my release schedule. My next book, Racing Savannah, comes out in December. I finished writing it in April, and truth be told, I was kind of looking forward to a break so I could read and watch TV and go to the gym. My next book wasn’t supposed to be due until February of 2014. But now my editor would like to see the first draft by October 1, so I’m writing as fast as I can. The book is about a girl training to run a marathon in honor of her boyfriend who died. Digging deep and trying to find the emotions is hard. On top of that, running is something that’s important to me, and tough to write about. When I was younger, I used to run long distances all the time. I spent most Saturday mornings on the trails. I ran a few races, including a marathon, and it was a very emotional experience because I trained for so long. Even though I trained for over a year, I found that a lot of people didn’t think I would make it.

It hurt that people didn’t believe in me. It occurred to me later that when people get scared for those they love and care about, sometimes they are negative. They don’t want to see them fail. I believe it’s a self-defense mechanism. The same thing happened when I started writing seriously.

I remember talking about my first book to my family and friends. One friend actually rolled her eyes whenever I’d bring up my writing. Some family members didn’t want to hear about it at all. No one was really interested. All that changed when I got a literary agent and a book deal. Now people want to talk about my writing every single day.

Again, I think people were scared that I would fail, so they ignored what I was up to so they wouldn’t have to experience the fallout they felt I would surely have.

I’m glad I stuck with running and writing – I’m pretty sure I succeeded because I was doing both activities for ME. Not for anyone else. Not to impress anyone else. Not to spend time with anyone else. I ran for hours on Saturday mornings by myself. Yesterday, I wrote for something like five hours, all by myself. If you really want to succeed at something, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

Anyhow, I’m about halfway done with writing this marathon runner girl book. I’m hoping to have the first draft done by July, which might be hard because I’m going to Antigua in two weeks for vacation, in which I plan to read a lot of trashy books and drink tropical alcoholic beverages. I’m a little scared about going to Antigua because I’ve never been to the Caribbean before and don’t know what to expect. Also, I’m whiter than Elmer’s glue, so I’m afraid I’ll get a sunburn.

That’s all. Maybe I’ll try to blog more soon!

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Upcoming signing, Stealing Parker on sale, and German rights sold

Hope you all are having a good summer. I have lots of good news this week!

*The eBook of STEALING PARKER is on sale for $1.99 at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

*I’m looking forward to being on a young adult romance panel at Hooray for Books in Alexandria, VA at 3:30 on June 15.

*German translation rights to my book CATCHING JORDAN were sold to Random House Germany.

and last, advance copies of RACING SAVANNAH should be out in July!

– Miranda

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