In Which I Use One of My Favorite Words. Thrice.

Writers are different. Some have a lot of looseness and need to apply discipline. Others have a lot of discipline and need to make allowances for looseness. I am definitely the latter.

I'm a worker. My danger is always that I will push too hard and not take enough breaks. I have to remind myself of things like patience; I get frustrated when it takes a long time or when it feels like I'm getting nowhere; I fight with my writing. I get angry; I hate it; I want to DEFENESTRATE it. I can't understand why it's so hard, or why I even bother; I can't understand why the words don't just come!

But that's the thing: you can have all the discipline in the world, but that won't make the words come. You can't just sit down knowing, "Today I'm going to begin Chapter 12," because maybe your eye will catch something problematic in Chapter 10, and six hours later you'll look up and take a breath and realize you haven't written a word of Chapter 12. Or maybe you'll find you're too fidgety to do any work at all. Or maybe you'll get some bad news, or even some good news, and any hope of concentration will, um, defenestrate itself. It's okay. You're not in control, silly! The work will get done. Let it decide the schedule. And make yourself take breaks sometimes, because it IS hard, and it IS going to take years, and it's not good for you or the book to continue at that pace.

FORGIVE YOURSELF. You are not in control. Let the book come how it comes. FORGIVE THE BOOK. It needs you to believe in it, even if it is slow and stumbling and doesn't seem very good at anything!

I expect to be writing Bitterblue for all of 2009. Forthwith, here are my resolutions for the new year:
  • Faith. This book is trying to come into the world, and it needs me to believe in it and in my ability to translate it. I resolve to try to hang on to my faith that this book is about something, and that I can write it the way it's asking to be written.
  • Patience. As my editor reminded me the other day, this is not a race. Bitterblue is writing slowly, but that's okay, because there's no other way it could be written! It is too complicated a book to be written fast. And therefore, there's no point in always focusing on finishing. Life is about the journey, not the destination. I resolve to try to live in the moment, write in the moment, and forgive this book for being so goddamned slow. ;o)
  • Perspective. I take things too seriously a lot of the time, in my writing and in my life. I resolve to try to remember that we are all tiny specks on a tiny planet in a great big universe, so WHO CARES? Go look at pelicans and laugh.
  • A palm tree :o). I'm moving back up north in late spring/early summer. I'm going to miss night-time palm trees with white lights wound all around their trunks! So, I resolve to try to find a small indoor palm tree for my home that I will decorate with lights, so that I have a little piece of Florida in my life, always.
  • Forgiveness. Did you notice that I resolved to try to do things, rather than to outright do them? One thing I don't like about New Year's resolutions is that sometimes they sound like punishments, criticisms of the things we don't like about ourselves, or goals at which we will either succeed (yay!) or fail (BOOO!). That's crap! Resolutions should be gentle and should be about creating peace. If I lose my faith or my patience or my perspective or, um, my palm tree (I could accidentally defenestrate it, for example), that's okay. I'll forgive myself. And eventually, when the time is right, I'll get it back again. With the possible exception of the palm tree. I might have to return to the nursery for a new one of those.
That is all, and I thank you for reading.

(Do you have any gentle, peace-creating resolutions to share?)

(And can you guess what is one of my favorite words? ^_^)


Artemis Grey said…
Peace-creating resolutions, let me see...I would have to agree with everything on your post, but I will add to it that when I need peace, I find it helpful to seimply go outside and listen to the animals. I mean that quite literally. There is nothing so calming and centering as listening to the sound of a horse cropping grass. It's such a slow, methodical sound, and as I have horses that think nothing of having a wayward human lying in the middle of their field, it's an easy solution for me when I feel the urge to defenestrate my computer, or notebook! ;) By the way, I would say that you're quite fond of the word defenestrate. I think that it will be my word of the day today!
Gabrielle said…
Hi Kristin!

I received "Graceling" for Christmas and honestly, it was the best fantasy novel I've read in years. I'm re-reading it as of right now.

I run a blog over at, and do author interviews about 3 times a month. Would you have time to answer 5 or 6 questions over email?

Thank you so much. Your book rocks socks, and I cannot wait to see what you write in the future.

Jayden said…
uhm... defenestrate? *chuckles*
I actually had to look it up, I've never come across it. Now I have a new word, right there, all shiny and interesting. I'm wondering if I should defenestrate myself today due to a lot of unhelpful collegues and the day not being over yet. *chuckles*
Anonymous said…
Life is about the journey, not the defenestration?
Anonymous said…
I've loved the word defenestrate since I visited Prague in 1997. It's such a serious sounding word to describe such a silly action. I do enjoy saying it aloud, however, and definitely contemplate a little defenestration of my own when computers don't behave as they should.

What will you miss most of Jacksonville? And with this question I am fishing for suggestions of not to miss there. My parents have a home on Amelia Island that we will visit later this month. We know Amelia well, but want to explore more in Jacksonville. I'm curious what your favorite bits are. (And if this is too personal, or too bothersome a question, please just disregard it.)
I learned a new word today, too. I'm so glad you are writing a new book in 2009!
tinkandalissa said…
I have no good advice for relaxing. I dont really know how to myself...A glass or two of red wine usually does me good though. I was working on my book this weekend and had a goal which I got nowhere near meeting. I did get SOMETHING accomplished, which, I will just keep repeating to myself that it is good enough. Something is better than nothing. This is my first novel and I have been playing with it for approx 9 months now. I say playing because that is what it seems to want to do. It toys with me, the little bastard. I get all set up to write and get motivated and then I cant get shit done. I am so easily distracted it is pathetic. I really felt like defenestrating my notebook this weekend for sure (I do long hand also)! I did have to look that fancy word up, by the way. Since my word of the day that I get emailed to me sucked, I will use this one today instead. All I can say is wine and music get me relaxed enough to try and release the words that my brain has a vice grip on and hope they keep flowing. Once I get going though, I need to lose the music because it only distracts me. I have the opposite problem that you do. I take too MANY breaks!
Aside from all that, my resolutions are to work on my book (try to have my complete rough draft done by April, which will be one year since I started), learn patience and forgiveness with myself and my book, work on staying positive (this will be the hardest), get better organized (since I moved I've been all fucked up), exercise/lose a few pounds to help get me in a better mood and stay motivated. Good luck with everything!
PS Maybe a fake palm tree would be the best option...
defenestrate is a favorite word of yours. NOW TELL ME WHAT IT MEANS!!!!!
i resolve to try not to be a procrastinator and to try to forgive my brother when he annoys the crap out of me.
that's good enough in my opinion.

"ill keep you my dirty little secret"-drity little secret by all-american rejects

p.s. sorry songs stuck in head. just learned on drums yesterday. GO CHICK DRUMMAS!!!!!
Sarah Prineas said…
Defenestrate is an AWESOME word.
Marcy said…
DEFENESTRATE! Yay! That's one of my favorites too! Seriously. Ever since my brother Ron introduced me to it, back when I was in... junior high? Sometimes you've got to say, "The Defenestration of Prague" just to say it. And sometimes you can win a round of Balderdash by writing down the definition, "To throw something or someone out of a window." It's great. (Not that I'm saying *I* would ever do either one of those things. Oh no.)

As for peace-creating resolutions, it's not a resolution per se, but for the time being at least I want to concentrate on doing things because they're good for me, I enjoy them, and I'm going to love and care for myself; not out of guilt. I'll be applying this to some very simple, basic things. Like showering. Why would anyone ever shower out of guilt? Um... never mind. Let's not talk about that just now. =)
Anonymous said…
Jack and Jill went up the hill
to fetch a pail of water,
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
and threw it out the window!

The window, the window, the second story window,
With a heave and a ho and a mighty throw
He threw it out the window.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow
And every where that Mary went -
She threw it out the window!

The window, the window, the second story window,
With a heave and a ho and a mighty throw
She threw it out the window.

When I want peace I either go outside to listen to nature (it's such a luxury living out in the middle of nowhere), sit in my room with all the lights off and just think, or read a book. But if I'm looking for peace away from my thoughts, which can be the case sometimes, then I read.

*looks up word defenestrate* Haha thats fuuny.
Pam said…
This is from my son's dinosaur book and may help w/patience:

"If you look at your arm and imagine that the very first life on Earth happened at your shoulder, dinosaurs began near your elbow and dominated Earth to your wrist. Humans have been here only for the bit of time represented by the tip of one of your fingernails."

Nothing like perspective! Of course, it hasn't always been effective when I'm about to defenestrate one of my children or pets.
Joshua said…
My guess for your favorite word was going to be "forgive" until I saw that "defenestrate" also occurred three times in your post. (The others are "always", "any", "because", "but", "chapter", "discipline", "don", "even", "faith"..., "patience", ... okay you used a lot of words three times.)
Faith said…
-Spend more time outdoors walking around with my camera. I find that the days that I do that, I am more relaxed and in general just happier.

-I started journaling when I was about 12. There were a couple of years there that I wrote nothing and in the past couple of years I've gone months without saying anything. That's something I'd like to change in 2009. I'm starting small and trying to get at least one entry a week.

Those are two things that give me peace and help reduce stress and give me new ideas.
Anonymous said…
I love the word "defenestration" too. So fun to say, and it has a silly meaning. Which is awesome.

My resolution is to practice more; To practice oboe and singing. Nothing really peace-creating, but I try to be the best I can in terms of peace all the time anyway, and the practice is something I need more. :P
Kristin Cashore said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Um. I think we may be twins.

Teri Hall
Claire Hennessy said…
[Originally posted at LJ, because my brain was apparently switched off...]

Defenestrate is a great word!

I like these resolutions. I hover somewhere in between looseness and discipline at different times, alternating between workaholicism and being completely-and-utterly lazy. So to read this was interesting. :)
Unknown said…
Hi Kristin!

I just wanted to say that Graceling is one of my favorite books; Katsa and Po are such strong, vivid characters that I look forward to rereading their story from time to time.

Good luck with Bitterblue; I can't wait to read what you have next.

New York, NY
Hey Kristin!

Graceling has become one of my favorite books. My book club is reading it and I've been looking for any discussion guides or interesting, unique ways to take our group and haven't been able to find any. Do you have any suggestions?

Robert said…
>(And can you guess what is one of my favorite words? ^_^)

Well, taking all the words in the post, and sorting them by their totally objective awesomeness, you get the following list:

1. defenestrate
2. defenestrate
5. pelicans
6. fidgety
7. forgiveness

Hmm, I'm definitely guessing [drum roll please...] *discipline*! You gave it away by using it three times!

- Robert
Kristin Cashore said…
Teri -- ha!

Claire, I'm glad you found your way back to my real blog so I could read your comment! Thanks for writing in :o)

Frances, thank you so much!

Becky, I doubt my suggestions would be any better than anyone else's; in fact, I expect they'd be worse, because the last thing I do is sit around discussing/analyzing my book! :o) I wonder if you could find anything online? Good luck, and I'm honored that you're reading it! (This isn't really a useful suggestion, but you should definitely all decide what Grace you think you have, and what Grace you'd like to have ^_^)

Robert, I like your objective ordering of awesome words. Good work. ;)
Anonymous said…
My 10-year-old son made up his own language, to go with his own planet that he invented, and the first word that he conjugated was "defenestrate." I kid you not.
Anonymous said…
Defenestrate is a pretty great word. Now if you can find a way to use "syzygy" three times in one post, I will be seriously amazed! Syzygy has got to be one of the most fun words to say!
Anonymous said…
So last night I was reading my sister Marcy's blog (the same Marcy that commented before) and noticed an entry with a title of "In Which It Is Proven That Kristin Cashore Is Awesome"... the entry just said "Hey Ron! Look!". So clearly I was required to follow the link. Hence my arrival.

However, defenestrate is not my favorite word (granted it's close). My favorite word is one I discovered while reading Calvin and Hobbes... it resulted in an argument with my mother since she didn't believe it was a real word, but I knew Bill Watterson wouldn't have made up a word in that particular context. (To this day I can quote the dictionary definition since I had to look it up to win the argument.)

So... after a phone conversation with Marcy I'm prepared to make the following statement:

Sometimes you feel like taking some galoshes and transmogrifying them into spelunkers then defenestrating them. But once you've announced your intention to do such a thing, you'll probably feel better even without actually doing it.


I think I'm going to have to read your book...
Marcy said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcy said…
Syzygy? That's awesome, I didn't know that one. It's almost as fun to say as "shichi ji ni" (or however it's transliterated...), Japanese for "at seven o'clock." "Hablabamos" is another fun one. I think I'm remembering it right. Spanish for "we were talking." But syzygy wins 'cuz it's in English.

Ron, you might feel better without actually doing it, but come on! "Yes, Judge, I HAD to defenestrate the spelunkers. It was just too awesome to resist. Don't worry, they were just transmogrified galoshes, anyway."

Now I feel like I'm trying to take over Kristin's blog, replying to various people's comments. I'll just slink away now...
Kristin Cashore said…
CreativeMa -- you've got a creative son!

April -- you should see me lately, trying to work syzygy into everything. It's a great word to spell, too!

And Marcy and Ron, for the record, I love when people have conversations in my comments with each other and not me -- I get to read them and there's no pressure to respond!

If my galoshes were transmogrified into spelunkers, they would be tall, green spelunkers.
Anonymous said…
i dont understand how you can change rubber overboots to a cave explorer and then throw them out the window, but if it was possible, I would definately do it...

by the way... i had to look up all those words... spelunkers (caver), galoshes (rubber overboots) and transmogrifyin (to change shape).

At first i thought there must be a diffrent definition for spelunkers because that seems like an odd thing to change boots to, but then i remembered... duh its just an awesome word... tehe spelunkers :) makes me smile just to think it!

graceling fan 4 life, raishell
Anonymous said…
Well, my perception of the word "transmogrify" was colored by Bill Watterson's depiction... Calvin wrote "transmogrifier" on a cardboard box, climbed in, and started changing himself into various bizarre things. Cartoons can do that sort of thing. Presumably, the word was invented for less magical changes. I suppose that in the real world, transmogrifying galoshes into spelunkers would probably involve papier mache and a hat with a light. (Hmmm... sounds like a project! Pictures, anyone?)

Oh, and you had to look up all three words? Awesome!!! My work here is done.
Anonymous said…
i dont know how well the paper mache spelunkers would be at exploring caves, i would imagine they would need some help :p
even so, that would be some pretty intense transmogrifying.
maybe ill get my own transmogrifier. they probally have some for sale on e-bay, better yet all i need is a marker and a cardboard box...
graceling fan 4 life, raishell

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