I learn something from every single person I interview here, but today, I’m particularly swayed by Kristin Anderson’s wisdom about goals. Check it out below, and be sure to pick up her new chapbooks.
I’m actually straddling two “latest projects” at the moment. My first chapbook, A Guide for the Practical Abductee, is fresh off the presses from Red Bird Chapbooks. It’s a collection of poems about unusual creatures and paranormal phenomena. UFOs, Ouija boards, unicorns, a jackalope infestation. It’s all there. I also have a book forthcoming this fall from Finishing Line Press called A Jab of Deep Urgency. This chapbook collects thirty poems I wrote for Found Poetry Review’s Pulitzer Remix project in 2013. All of the poems are erasure pieces created using pages from Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad. I’m actually doing a pretty neat promotion for this book – anyone who pre-orders can get an #UrgencySquad kit, including pages from the book I used to create my chapbook, newspaper articles, magazine pages, some fun swag and a crash course on found poetry.
2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?
I was a born reader. I remember begging my mom to teach me to read when I was three or four. I read a lot of historical fiction like Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables. As I got older, I loved Zlata’s Diary, which is the real diary of a girl in Bosnia, living through the Bosnian war. I also loved Lois Duncan and Patricia C. Wrede and Judy Blume and Piers Anthony. I loved dragons and I loved truth. I also cherished my Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson tome, which I remember begging my mom for at the check out at a book store when I was quite young. I honestly can’t remember my life without books.
3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?
I don’t know per se if I have a writing routine, but I do have a routine. I spend the earlier parts of my day working on “maintenance” type stuff – answering emails, blogging, promotional and marketing things. And as it gets into the afternoon, I usually end up working on a more meaty project – a revision, a first draft, a rewrite. In the evenings, I watch TV and answer more emails, and I write poems, and I often use this time to work on projects for my coaching and editing clients.
I do believe in writing every day, but what “write every day” looks like for me isn’t what it looks like for others. Daily goals are great, but so are monthly goals. So are goals you came up with this morning. I think it’s about having goals, rather than the timeline, that matters.
I read so much! Since I’m also a novelist, I do spend a lot of time with prose. I just finished reading Carrie by Stephen King for a book club. It’s so iconic – I’m glad I got around to it, finally! Before that I read Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, who is a beautiful writer. I recently enjoyed the latest chapbook from Jen Karetnik, A Prayer for Confession. She makes such good use of form – oh, the pantoums! And I’m a big fan of graphic novels, and Emily Carroll has a fabulous new collection of spooky short stories in graphic format called Through The Woods . A must-read for folktale lovers. Oooh, and Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern is a must read for fans of Rainbow Rowell and Laurie Halse Anderson.
5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?
You know, this is super hard. I feel like every book I read, even if I don’t enjoy it, is important to me. I will say that The Little Prince is a big one. I think partly because I read it at an important time (first in elementary school, then in high school), and the language choices that the author makes are amazing, not to mention the narrator’s voice, the author as a character – brilliant! I also adore High Fidelity by Nick Hornby for completely different reasons. His work made me feel like I could be a novelist. Like I had a story in me that I could tell. I didn’t have to be magical in a magical way – I could be magical in a real, down to earth, connecting to people way. I also used to work in a record store. So there’s that. And Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic. This book, which I mentioned earlier, really made me feel like life mattered, like the world was bigger than what I could see from my window.
6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?
Hmmm…I think some of this comes kind of naturally to me, which makes it harder to explain. I try to just converse with people online, whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or my blog. I think “platform” is very different for fiction or poetry writers than it is for nonfiction authors. My first book, Dear Teen Me, was based on a blog of the same name, so the platform was there before we’d even considered doing a book. As a novelist and a poet, I think it’s just about being your genuine self. And I don’t think that this takes away from my writing time very much at all.
7. What is a typical day like for you?
Kind of solitary, really. But my favorite days are when my writing group gets together at a coffee shop to work and share and gossip. I don’t know that I have a typical day.
8. Describe your dream writing space?
There’s this one table at my local coffee shop that for some reason is magical. If I could be at that table but also have my cats there and have the coffee and treats be free, then, THAT would be my dream writing space.
9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?
I had an agent at a conference tell me to give up on a manuscript once. I thought I might for a while. She didn’t think there was a market for that particular book. But I like it. So I’ll probably revise it in the future and try again.
10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?
It’s not about who you know, it’s about how hard you’re willing to work for what you want.
Kristin Anderson grew up in Westbrook, Maine and is a graduate of Connecticut College. She has a fancy diploma that says “B.A. in Classics,” which makes her sound smart but has not helped her get any jobs in Ancient Rome. Once upon a time she worked for The New Yorker magazine, but she soon packed her bags and moved to Texas. Currently living in Austin, Kristin is an online editor at Hunger Mountain a contributing editor at Found Poetry Review. Kristin is the co-editor of the DEAR TEEN ME anthology (Zest Books, 2012), based on the website of the same name. As a poet she has been published worldwide in many literary journals from the UK’s Fuselit, to Cordite in Australia to the US’ Post Road and the Cimarron Review. Recently she’s graced the pages of Asimov’s Science Fiction, and she has work forthcoming in teen magazine Cicada. Kristin is the author of two chapbooks of poetry: A GUIDE FOR THE PRACTICAL ABDUCTEE (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and A JAB OF DEEP URGENCY (forthcoming, Finishing Line Press, 2014). She hand-wrote her first trunk book at sixteen. It was about the band Hanson and may or may not still be in a notebook at her parents’ house. She blogs at EKristinAnderson.com.