Kieran Kramer writes funny, smart, sexy historical books that make you smile and swoon from beginning to end. When you meet Kieran you understand why she has so much joy and laughter in her books – it’s part of the lovely person she is. And, if you’re lucky enough to sit down with her and hear her story to publication you will also hear her talk about how she believes that the key to your success is finding the real you – the kid in you. Welcome Kieran!
The Kid in You
Have you ever met a boring kid?
Every single kid is interesting.
If you’re unaware of this fact, get yourself to the nearest elementary school and meet a classroom full of them. They’re fascinating. They’ll make you laugh and they’ll make you cry.
They’re little walking, talking beacons of truth. Truth wrapped in story–and sometimes peanut butter and jelly or spit balls, but still.
Beacons of truth. Compelling ones.
Art Linkletter knew this was true. In the 50’s, he had a television show called House Party. And at the conclusion of each episode, he’d interview children, asking them off-the-cuff questions and getting back hilarious and often poignant replies. Later, Bill Cosby followed up with his own show, Kids Say the Darndest Things, in which he employed clips from Linkletter’s interviews with kids.
We can’t get enough of kids and their unique perspectives on life.
Why am I bringing this up?
Because you’ll write better stories if you relate to The Kid In You.
Yes, my friends, there’s a person lurking in the shadows of your life, a wise, sensitive, original person who can take your writing from blasé to blazing, green to great, from flimsy to flat-out spectacular.
What a shame you’re ignoring The Kid in You.
I would never ignore anyone! the kind writers among us are insisting right now.
Well, you are. You’re just as guilty of turning your back on The Kid in You—this all-powerful, untapped writing resource–as the rest of us heartless, ignorant schmucks who decided to become storytellers.
Whether you had a good childhood or not, if you’re reading this right now, you had a childhood. We all did.
But what you may not be doing is talking to that child—that funny blabbermouth or shy genius or sensitive survivor who’s going to make your writing shine–as you write.
Even those of us who do look back tend to do it from an adult’s perspective. We categorize. Look for logical answers and patterns. Use all the wisdom gleaned from living over our lives to make sense of our childhoods. But I promise you, you’ll never know why Mary Kaputnik pulled your chair out from under you in fifth grade! Or why Cousin Joe refused your apology. Or why your late mother cried two days after Christmas, every year, without fail, even though she insisted she was happy.
But it’s adult of us to try to make sense of all that stuff, isn’t it?
Yes. Adult and once-removed.
Once removed from the feelings.
But there’s a reason for this. It’s because the feelings alone are so powerful, you’re practically lifted out of your shoes just going back in time to that Kid In You, which is why you’re Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants Professor Sensible Person while you travel down Memory Lane most of the time (unless you’ve had too many margaritas or are in the presence of a relentless therapist).
A lot of us tend to write our stories removed from the feelings. It’s our status quo state when we get to the computer. We write as if we’re outside a scene, watching the characters, recording, and trying to make sense of what’s happening—
Because we should.
Because everything’s kinda gotta be logical.
And fit together.
Like pieces of a puzzle.
So we can protect ourselves.
Because we’re dangerous when we feel too much. Dangerous and damned intuitive. Dangerous, damned intuitive, and alive. Ignore the goosebumps on your arms because you just remembered how powerful you are and listen to me: being that alive is uncomfortable when you’re a grown-up used to putting up walls to defend yourself, when you’ve spent years putting up a million social filters. It’s exhausting, quite frankly, to connect with The Kid In You.
You’ll think of all kinds of reasons to put a lid on the Kid.
But you’re a writer. You have to write the truth, and the truth can hurt. The truth can throw you for a loop. The truth can chew you up and spit you out—the fake part of you anyway. The real you will be left, gasping for breath, reminding you that nothing you write matters if you aren’t writing from the deepest part of you.
The truth demands you pay attention to The Kid In You.
Now, unless you were severely traumatized, to the point that going back is going to make you want to jump off a bridge, and you’ve been told only to do so under the supervision of trained professionals, I want you to consider doing an exercise with me:
1) Close your eyes.
2) Breathe in and out.
3) Get onto the Star Trek transporter deck of your memory and go back to The Kid In You, at the age that resonates with you most, maybe between 8 and 10.
4) Remember something—something you had feelings about.
5) Feel it.
6) Really feel it. Sometimes this means metaphorically holding onto The Kid In You’s hand or putting your arm over The Kid In You’s shoulder and following along. Stay in imaginary physical contact as much as you can. Don’t observe. Dwell. Ask The Kid In You how he or she is doing. Ask The Kid if he or she has anything to say to you about your story.
7) Come back to the grownup you.
9) Whenever you get stuck, ask The Kid In You to help you out. Even when it comes to grown-up subjects, The Kid In You will come up with something, a great zinger or a pithy truth that will get you going again.
10) If you stop feeling as you write, stop writing. Reconnect with The Kid In You. Remind yourself you used to feel first, think second. Indulge in some Kid behavior. Play putt-putt. Watch the Brady Bunch. Read a favorite childhood book. Interact with kids.
11) Poke the grownup you every time you forget to feel as you write your story.
That’s it. I hope you’ll find that channeling The Kid In You is like rediscovering your very best friend. Haywood Smith, the author of the Red Hat books, reminded me of this a couple of years ago. She told me she’d learned to go to a place in her head where she’d invite her inner child to sit on her lap. And she’d hug that child close.
I’ve always been connected with my own inner Kid—I think that strong connection helped get me published–but Haywood’s advice reminded me more than ever that there’s something special neglected in our lives.
The deepest, most vulnerable, intuitive part of ourselves, the part that hides and watches yet yearns to be heard and loved.
Channeling The Kid In You can bring back all kinds of emotions, some of them not easy to handle. But you know what? Those feelings mean you’re still alive. The Kid In You reminds you of that. Most important of all, the Kid In You begs you to be you. No one else can.
I think that after you reacquaint yourself with The Kid In You, you’re going to be surprised at how your characters and plotlines take on new energy and feeling. Something will hum there, something bigger than your story. It could be a truth you may have forgotten about. Or a truth you may have been supressing, intentionally or not. Or perhaps it’s a truth that draws you back over and over, like a sparkly jewel.
That’s your Voice.
Cherish the Kid.
Cherish your Voice.
And tell us a story. Tell us something that will make us lean closer to the fire, so we don’t miss a word.
Kieran is offering a Regency-inspired porcelain tea bag rest along with some “tea time” goodies and a signed copy of CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MARRIAGE to one commenter at Romance University!
How do you cherish the Kid inside you? How do you find your voice? How does it help your writing?
Join us on Wednesday when Josh Lanyon, talented author of M/M romance and gay fiction, joins us to discuss how to make your male characters in your M/M romance more realistic.
BIO: USA Today best-selling author and double-Rita finalist Kieran Kramer writes lighthearted Regency historical romances for St. Martin’s Press. IF YOU GIVE A GIRL A VISCOUNT, the fourth and last book in her Impossible Bachelors series, will hit the shelves in November 2011. Her new Regency series, House of Brady, premiers in 2012. A former CIA employee, journalist, and English teacher, Kieran’s also a game show veteran, karaoke enthusiast, and general adventurer. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and at www.kierankramerbooks.com <http://www.kierankramerbooks.com/> .
- A week full of winners!
- The Story is in the Eye of the Beholder: Choosing the Best Point of View (Part 1) Heather Webb
- Weekly Lecture Schedule August 19-23
- It’s All in the Voice by Heather Webb
- Sloan Parker – Write What You Know: A Woman Writing M/M Romance