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I loved thinking about this woman who would not allow anything to affect her.
Tell me more about writing fiction as opposed to writing nonfiction. That was the first time I opened my work up to scrutiny, my first workshop experience. When did you transition to acknowledging yourself as one? What it means to try and understand the physicality of things versus what it is like to try and know the interior, the spiritual part of the person.
I was in charge of Interlibrary loans.
Follow her vigbrown on Instagram. I made a commitment when I decided to write a novel, and I would say I wrote it almost like a short story. You can basically scare a peacock into a heart attack.
It is always a beautiful thing, to uncover what fiction might bring me. Lots of guys talking about what kind of blade they use, about paring back skin. She read to me until we got to the point where the books I was interested in were not books she considered appropriate. Guernica : Who were the visiting authors that year? The beloved, month-long literary extravaganza hosted by Rollins College is a Central Florida highlight featuring celebrated authors and National Book Award finalists.
Kristen Arnett : My mother did, all through my childhood. Were you, especially during the editing process, honing specific through lines?
It is so hard to know anything about ourselves. I wrote a thousand words a day from Monday to Friday. I always felt compelled to write, but I never showed it to anyone or thought about my writing as something to share. Guernica : How long did it take to finish the first draft? This is my home and the writing I do is grounded in Florida.
Help us stay in the fight by giving here. Amazing lineup. Like a special present. Search for:. I love to be surprised by what the characters might say or do. Explore… Search. Eventually, I found out about the internships available for Winter with the Writers, and [program director] Carol Frost selected me to participate.
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Subscribe to the Guernica newsletter. Kristen Arnett : I do love comedy! I kept applying to workshops, and my work was accepted. Kristen Arnett : I started in June and was done by November. As a reader, I loved that lack of hesitation. I sit inside of it and let it figure itself out. Iced lattes are five bucks, the scent of yeasty artisanal bread p the air, and a robust chef rubs down an impressive hunk of meat.
A shop? After that experience, and while I was in Library school, I applied for and got a Lambda fellowship. If that filters into my writing, I am happy for it. I had a lot of s, aboutmessy words, but it was done, and with a competed draft, I could start turning it into something. Are you consciously a funny writer? Guernica : What about themes? Orlando has a thriving queer community and I am lucky to be a part of that world. Those come out of inspiration or an image or an idea and I could get a draft done pretty quickly, like in a day, and then work to edit it.
Kristen Arnett : I still have trouble thinking of myself as a real writer!
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Guernica : What inspired this book? The spot is all Brooklyn cool, but here, Arnett has unimpeachable local cred. Kristen Arnett : I think I found her because her voice was so strident. That is funny to me. Kristen Arnett : Learning about taxidermy really satisfied the librarian in me. After considering a scenic walk in Leu Gardens, but conceding to the Florida heat—a sultry eighty degrees by a. Next February, Arnett will participate in Winter with the Writers.
On our endless fascination with women telling us about themselves for the first time.
I think there is really not room for pain without pleasure. I felt like an imposter.
It was the first time I had ever thought longer outside of a short story than the original dynamic. When I write fiction, it starts with an image. I never have an outline. Where would I even want to go? And I did find out about the fragility of peacocks. Guernica : How is it for you, to be queer in Central Florida? I am interrogating questions in order to find larger questions. It was interesting to try and write a character who wants to control the entire narrative of not only her own life, but also the lives of the people closest to her.
Guernica : The novel is quite funny. What a giant personality! Kristen Arnett : Laughter. I got my degree in English while working as a librarian.
So I scrapped that story and decided to look more broadly at this concept. Guernica : How did Jessa reveal herself to you—is her voice singular, composite? Arnett has managed the enviable, sticking to her roots while going places. I spent my time in the basement. Kristen Arnett : I have a wonderful community, friends who I can rely on.
That was the first time I thought maybe this, my writing, is something other people want to see.
Guernica : And fiction here brought you the special present of taxidermy. I set a daily word count and decided to write forward, to not go back more than a paragraph the following day to maintain forward momentum. Those pieces are moveable, like little puzzle pieces I am trying to fit together.
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I had to read them in secret. Guernica : You majored in English. It was kind of life-changing for me. That was another long process, but essentially I had the shape of the novel finished in six months. I think I am not ever really considering that in my fiction, per se, but I am thinking about it dynamically in my life.
Guernica : Tell me about your writing practice. Have you thought about leaving? Kristen Arnett : Writing fiction for me is very different from writing an essay. Did you go to a, what is it? Kristen Arnett : It is a practice. Something specific. She is such a compelling character, for sure, but she is always such a loud control freak. I wanted to keep thinking about them; know more about their lives and where they lived and their family dynamic. When the story was done, I realized I was still very invested in these characters. At first I wrote short stories.
I love for people to laugh and have a good time. She is so serious about controlling not only her emotions but also her memories and also the actions and feelings and thoughts of the people around her. I think almost anything can be funny There is so much humor to be found in everything.
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By Heart is a series in which authors share and discuss their all-time favorite passages in literature.