Kari Weighs In

I don’t actually have time to do anything at all at the moment, so I’m starting this entry at 1:24 a.m. on a Saturday.  I shall claim this makes sense to me.

My name is Kari Maaren, and I’ve never been to Clarion, but I did the Write-a-Thon last year and enjoyed it very much.  I spent the six weeks editing a novel I had completed several months before.  This year, I’m writing the sequel to that novel.  I’m not sure if this makes me an optimist or just kind of nuts.

I’ve actually written a lot of novels.  My usual process is:  1)  spend months or years shaping a novel in my head; 2) write everything down over a relatively short period of time; 3) obsessively edit for a rather longer period of time; 4) put the novel away forever on a particular bookshelf.  I sent a novel out once when I was twenty or so.  That was before there was such a thing as an e-mail submission process, so I sent it via snail mail.  The rejection was not unexpected, but I still somehow managed to use it as an excuse over the course of the next decade and a half not to shop out my stuff.  My stated excuse was always that synopses and cover letters were much harder to write than actual novels.

Last year’s Write-a-Thon constituted my attempt to force myself to end the Cycle of Inaction.  It worked, too.  In the course of the Write-a-Thon, I edited until I could edit no more, then, for the first time in my life, wrote a synopsis that was not ten pages long.  I’ve even managed to submit to a few agents and publishers.  Rejection still hurts, but it’s better than sitting around whining about how I can’t write a synopsis.  I’ve managed to send out a short story as well; it was shortlisted for a competition in the spring, and it’s now making the rounds.  I don’t write all that much short fiction, though I wish I did.

This year’s Write-a-Thon is going to be a bit insane because I need to do about six other things on top of it.  For the Write-a-Thon, I’ve pledged to write 30,000 words of my current novel.  The first in the series was a YA time-travel tale, and the second continues the story from the perspective of a different character.  I’m also developing an online university course on fairy tales and fantasy; it’s supposed to be done, oh, around now, though I still have two and a half units to go.  I’m teaching yet another online course and will soon have about 120 essays to mark, then another 120 later in the summer.  I’m keeping up my webcomic, which I post every two days.  Finally, I have been doing a lot with my music lately; I write geeky songs and perform them, accompanying myself on the ukulele, at a monthly reading series run by a small publisher for which I sometimes read slush.  I’m not really much of a singer, but people seem to find the songs amusing.  I’ve just put four of them online (in not particularly professional recorded-with-one-microphone-in-my-apartment versions), prompted by the fact that Paul and Storm released their George R. R. Martin song five days before I was to perform mine.  These things do happen, alas.

So yeah, I am insane to be doing the Write-a-Thon, but that’s okay.  It’s enjoyable, and the money goes to a cause I believe in.

Have some links:  my Clarion profile page, my comic, my blog (mostly associated with the comic, but containing other stuff too), and my Audioboo channel (the first four “boos” are the songs I recently posted; the others are mostly just me noodling on the ukulele).

I shall leave you with a comic about writing I did a few years ago:

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2 thoughts on “Kari Weighs In

  1. Where were the courses you now teach when I was a student? Meh! I’m sure I’m watching this from a skewed perspective but “kids these days” quite sums it up for me. The opportunity to write an essay on a graphic novel instead of discussing 1984 ad-nauseam? Sheesh and whatever! Peaches and good luck says I!

  2. The university at which I teach is skewed towards “modernity”; in other words, it ignores the poor neglected Middle Ages and offers a lot of courses about more recent types of literature, including a lot of genre stuff. I miss Chaucer but don’t really object to getting a chance to teach Watchmen. The best thing about the pop-lit course I teach is watching it slowly dawn on the students that the “easy, lowest-common-denominator garbage” they’re being asked to read contains layer after layer of meaning.

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