5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH KAYLA SMITH

  1. What’s the worst thing about writing?

The worst thing about writing is the hours and hours I spend agonizing over what to write without ever actually writing one word. This makes up about 80% of what I loosely classify as “writing.” As in, if someone asks me what I’m doing today and I tell them I’m writing, I likely mean walking aimless miles with a blank stare mumbling to myself. If I put in enough hours/days of that, I can then put it on paper pretty painlessly.

  1. Have you read any good books about writing, or do you stay away from such things?

I don’t read many books that focus only on writing. (Do captivating books on the subject exist? If so, do let me know.) But I do like several essays on the subject. David Foster Wallace’s “The Nature of the Fun.” Joan Didion’s “On Keeping a Notebook.” I like teaching George Orwell’s “Why I Write.” I have not read Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir yet, but it’s on my list of things to read soon.

  1. Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using as many power verbs as possible.

Sometimes writing eviscerates you mentally and then hides in the corner while you compose yourself enough to approach it again. Sometimes it allows you to purge the emotions you couldn’t absolve any other way. Sometimes it organizes the emotions so you can better observe them. It’s either torturous or therapeutic.

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poetry/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?

I majored in fiction writing in college. I always knew I wanted to write fiction because fiction is what I’ve always loved to read. It was halfway through college when I discovered creative nonfiction and realized that there was a place in the world for the writing I’d been scribbling in notebooks, letters, and secret blogs since I was a little girl. I think I had not fully known before that personal writing counted as legitimate writing to anyone else until I read Joan Didion’s “Goodbye to All That” and Dave Egger’s A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I went to grad school for creative nonfiction because I realized that nonfiction felt natural and more urgent for me than fiction had. (Though I’d still love to write more fiction in the future.)

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

There are so many. All of Faulkner’s novels, because they contain this magic for me that I feel I can never, ever get enough of. Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep because sometimes I feel that she conveys my thoughts better than I do. Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient because it remains one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books I’ve ever read. All of Tana French’s books because there is perhaps no one who writes psychological mysteries better and because they allow me to vicariously live my fantasy of being an undercover detective. Also the number of times I’ve read the Harry Potter series is shocking.

Bonus question: If you won a trip anywhere in the known, unknown, and fictional universe(s), where would you go and what would be your first item of business once you arrived?

This changes daily. At this moment, I want to go to Venice during Carnival. My first order of business would be to find a costume and spend a day stealing hats off of people’s heads as I walked around the city on stilts.

~

In any given room of people in any given place, I wonder how many times the collectives masses have read Harry Potter, added all up. If you have a guess, come out to Writers & Words on Tuesday, April 11th at 7pm at Charmington’s and let us know! Also, more importantly, come and hear Kayla’s wonderful words, and the rest of our April readers.

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