What is your first memory of writing for fun?
When I was in third grade, I wrote a story called “2 Inches Tall” for school, in which I visited my best friend’s dad at work (he was a Chemist) and knocked a bottle of the table and then became two inches tall. I had so much fun writing it, but I got a B because it wasn’t believable. Then in 8th grade, I wrote an essay on food during the Renaissance period—and I wrote the entire thing in second person. I got an A on that, but my teacher told me not to do that on any state exams, haha. After that, I went all out on short stories, poems, whatever popped into my head.
How many drafts = done?
My first book got 27 drafts, but after that, I refused to count. I think the easiest book only had about 9. I typically go through the book several times myself before sending to beta readers, then several more times after the beta readers send back feedback, then at least one more time before sending to the copy editor, and then two or three more times after that. It’s a process, but worth it.
What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?
Just like everyone else, I have about 80 favorite books, but the one book I always go back to is Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery. I read it for the first time when I was about 10, and I connected with it then, and I connect with it now. I love the descriptions and the story, and I love the way Emily thinks and does things. I’m going to cheat though, and also include Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini, The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudy Canavan, and Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?
I love The Zone—being in that state of writing where you don’t hear, see, or feel anything else except the world you’re creating. I recently read that when writers are in The Zone, it gives them the same endorphin release as when runners get a runner’s high. But I also love words, and the way the same words can have a completely different meaning, simply because of the way you’ve arranged them or the perception of the person reading them. Writing creates a strange, ethereal kind of connection with others—it’s like telepathy, time travel, magic.
What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?
Petrichor is my favorite word. It means the smell of the earth after the rain (or something to that effect—basically it describes the smell of wet dirt). I love description and I love sensory detail, so words like petrichor help pinpoint some of those sensations that I feel and see and notice without having to write paragraphs of description. I’m always looking for new words too—a couple of my new favorites are rubatosis (the uneasy awareness of your own heart beating) and sonder (the realization that the strangers around you have a life as vivid and complex as your own).
Bonus question: if you were a month, which month would you be and why?
It kind of depends on where I live, but in Maryland, I would pick October or May. I love watching the seasons change, and in May it’s easy to watch winter turn to spring turn to summer—the browns and greys shifting to pale greens and yellows, and then into dark greens and deep blues. It’s really stunning. And the same thing happens in October—the greens darken until they’ve shifted to browns and yellows and orange, and then it’s just the barren branches of trees contrasted against a grey sky. I go for a walk every day during these months, and it seems like something looks just a little different every time I go outside.
Come out and see Ariele read on Tuesday, March 12th – here’s the facebook event!
Ariele Sieling was born and raised among the trees and her dad’s honeybees. She began writing at an early age, and now has two scifi series, Land of Szornyek and The Sagittan Chronicles, and a children’s book series called Rutherford the Unicorn Sheep. She has been featured in numerous anthologies (most recently Beamed Up by Amphibian Press), Bewildering Stories Magazine, and Bee Culture Magazine. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, a dog, three cats, and a fish. You can learn more at http://www.arielesieling.com or follow her on Instagram @arielesieling.