It's been a while, eh? My sincere apologies for that. Once the last season of The Bachelor ended, I just needed a moment, ya know? But last week was a big one: It saw both my bookaversary (yes, The New Rules for Blondes rocked the literary world exactly a year ago on 4/23) and my birthday! Too much fun! I'll be writing a post about my experiences with selling my book soon, but first I have a super cool project going on.
My friend and fellow storyteller and writer Julie Threlkeld asked me to participate in a blog-based "row row row your boat" (her brilliant analogy) of writers writing about how they write. She tagged me on her wonderful blog and now it's my turn to answer these questions here on this blog, then tag a few other writers whose process interests me. Very jazzy, huh?
What am I working on?
Oh gosh this is hard and I'm only on question #1! I'll admit that after my book came out, I was a bit burned and tired from cranking out all those words. I redirected my focus back to standup and storytelling, where it has remained for about 8 months now. I'm working on a lot of new standup material and a few new stories. I recently went through a few passes on an essay that I then submitted to the Modern Love column in the NYTimes. It's a longshot, but I love that column and the story I pitched is a storytelling piece that audiences tend to like, so I'm hopeful. I'm also planning on filming a few web videos soon, so I've been banging out some short scripts.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, if by "my work" we mean my book (which is what I'll decide it means, since I get to be the decider here, don't I? It's my friggin' blog!), then I'd say that it's different from others of its genre (humor, essays, memoirs, chick lit) because my attitude and tone is quite unique. My brain is crammed full of pop culture idiocy (which takes up space and disables me from recalling important stuff, like where I just left my wine glass) that I shared within my book, often as footnotes. My own father remarked on how many strange tidbits I included in my book and it was a very conscious choice. As a standup, you can't help but cram your writing chock full of punchlines and I truly felt like I was "punching up" my book every time I'd do some rewrites. Also, I think that my essays are emotional, gutsy, and unpredictable, which makes me quite different from my contemporaries.
Why do I write what I do?
Well, I got my book deal based on my funny recaps of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette that an editor saw and liked, so I have a soft spot for silly TV recaps. That format (of a short essay) is very enjoyable for me because it's so short and light--I can write silly pop culture-based recaps for DAYS. My book was a lot of work--to crank out 70,000 words about blondeness without being too redundant or cliche. But that was also an amazing experience--to test myself and see that I could do it. The personal essay is another thing that I love and it dovetails with my storytelling brilliantly. Whenever I beat out a story to prepare it for a storytelling show, I'm hoping that the audience will enjoy the story and then, if they do, I gain confidence in the piece and I'll flesh it out to be a personal essay.
How does my writing process work?
I'm a consummate standup, which means I'm forever jotting down ideas when I'm out and about. My joke notebook is almost always in my purse, since you simply never know when you'll be struck by inspiration or an idea. When I was writing my book, my writing process was quite rigid and it needed to be. I work full time and perform standup and storytelling most nights, so I had to reserve weekends for writing the book. My friends joke that I disappeared for 8 months and they're right! During those 8 months I barely drank and I spent all day Saturday and Sunday mostly in my bedroom writing on my crummy laptop. I'd put back a lot of coffee and liquids and sometimes put on Arcade Fire in the background (not sure why, but Arcade Fire was always my go-to band when writing). In the late afternoon if it was nice out, I'd let myself go for a run in the park and often during those runs, an idea would become unstuck or a funny idea would present itself. Then I'd come back and write some more. I must pat myself on the back for how focused I was--I look back on it and almost can't believe that I sold and wrote a book while working full time and performing most nights. I'm exhausted just thinking about it!
Mindy Raf is a brilliant author, singer, songwriter, comedian, character actress, and a lovely gal who I'm proud to call my friend. Her debut book The Symptoms of My Insanity (Dial/Penguin) came out just before mine did, so we're like first book sisters-in-arms. The Symptoms of My Insanity is a charming, funny, relatable YA book with a narrator who you can't help but love. She'll be doing the Writing Process Blog Tour on her great blog next week or so.
Then after that will be another pal...
Katrin Hier is a writer, actress, comedian, and aspiring novelist based in NYC. She has been featured in New York Magazine and her writing has been published on The Impersonals, The Frisky, and elsewhere. In addition, her hilarious tweets have been featured in The Huffington Post. You can find her blog here.