When I first came across Kathleen Hale on Twitter, I thought, “Oh man, this girl seems cool.” And then I found out that she wrote a YA book that’s been described as a cross between Fargo and Pretty Little Liars, and at that point I knew she was cool. Naturally, I forced her to answer my Creative Ladies questions, as is my way. You can follow Kathleen on Tumblr and Twitter, and check out the website for her book, No One Else Can Have You (I recently finished it and I can assure you that IT IS FANTASTIC). Thanks to Kathleen for answering my questions, and I know you guys will enjoy her answers as much as I did!
What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.
Right now I’m writing full time, working on the sequel to my first novel (NO ONE ELSE CAN HAVE YOU, which comes out January 7th). It’s due really soon!
Working days vary for me depending on where I am and what I’m doing—like, when I was writing my novel in grad school (before I dropped out), I would work in my car between classes. But I do love routine. Right now, a normal working day looks like this:
8:30 AM: Wake up (fitfully) and tell myself that some people have real jobs and are already at their desks by now! Sleep for one more hour.
9:30AM: Wake up (frantically). Dive out of bed and put on coffee.
9:35-10:15AM: Ingest a banana, some cereal, carrots, bacon, and an inhuman amount of coffee. Treat social media like a job.
10:15AM: Retreat to my office and consult whatever post-it note I wrote to myself the night before. (This tells me what to write that day.)
10:15-4PM: Write! The goal is 1,500 words. (I am the type of person who needs a concrete, achievable goal, so that I know when to stop.)
4PM-12AM: All the boring, wind-down activities: go to the YMCA, get groceries, cook dinner, watch a million shows, read something, fantasize about dogs so small they can fit in my change purse and the quarters are like Frisbees to them. The usual.
What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?
I really like to knit. Philosophically it reminds me of writing because sometimes I’ll have to rip out entire projects and start again in order for it to look right. I also like to draw—monsters, mostly, for whatever reason.
What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.
Runs, television, my family, being in love, collages by Beth Hoeckel, Harriet the Spy, people who are self-aware and honest, journaling, dogs.
In three words, describe your creative aesthetic.
Heart and guts.
How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?
Honestly, it involves a lot of typing. I’ll take breaks to get a glass of water or transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer, or something. But if I’m at a desk, I’m actively writing.
What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?
Last week I painted my office and almost died from paint fumes. But I survived and now the office is a nice, icy-blue color! That makes me very proud.
What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?
So, this one time in college I wrote a story, and this one magazine offered me a lot of money for it. All they wanted me to do was change the last sentence. Instead, I fought with them about what I thought the last sentence meant. I lost the gig and have never argued with an editor since.
Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?
I have so many! Megan Amram, Rachel Shukert, Paula Pell, Lesley Arfin, Lena Dunham—the list goes on and on. Right now I’m a real fan of Maggie Carey. I think she’s a great writer who manages to explore sex and ambition and family dynamics in really smart and poignant ways.
What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Honestly, if I let myself work the way I’m inclined to work, I would probably be nocturnal. But I sort of yank myself into a normal schedule, and do most of my writing in the morning, because I enjoy the company of other humans.
Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?
The same old, cliché things that other people do, probably: yoga, reading (in a chair, or on a couch, or with a beer). I also love animals, and find being around them really amazing. I’m allergic to cats, but if there is a dog within fifty yards of me I will usually run to that dog and squeeze that dog and say crazy things to that dog, and that really helps me relax.
What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?
I just read At Home in the World by Joyce Manard. In terms of writing, it’s both inspiring and a cautionary tale. ALSO IT’S RIVETING AND THERE IS LOTS OF SEX STUFF. I highly recommend it.
What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?
I’m not sure I’m enough of an authority to offer advice! I feel like I’m still learning.
I guess I would say to be brave, decide what you want to write about, write a lot, find a good reader, and try not to worry about criticism…The older I get the more I realize that it’s so much easier to diss something than to make something.
What’s your Creative Lady motto?
Write every single day, please! (I add the “please” because I try to be kind to myself.) It won’t always be good—sometimes it will be very, very bad—but I feel like you’ve got to excise the crummy stuff to unearth what works.
Thanks to Kathleen for answering my nosy questions! If you’re a creative type who’d like to be featured in Creative Ladies (or if you’d like to nominate someone), please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.