Monday, September 10, 2007


Today was the first day that felt like fall. I know that it's not technically fall, but when the temps drop into the 60's for the highs, it's time to put away the sandals and dig out the clogs. Clogs are made for rewriting. And after a morning of entering Saturday's revision into the computer, I slipped on my clogs and went to a coffee shop to work on pages 99-140. My main goal was actually 120-140, but I always go back to the beginning when I rewrite. (Page 99 is the beginning of Part II of the book.) Years ago at a conference, I heard another writer say that was how she kept her book seamless. She always started back at page one when she was rewriting. I've followed her advice ever since. It's a great way to catch broken threads.

What does this have to do with clogs? It's quite simple. A writer should dress comfortably. "Buy a bunch of sweat pants," advised a couple of writers that I took to dinner when I was an unpublished writer. I work in my pajamas at home, so I guess, in a way, I took their suggestion.

When you dress comfortably, you are free to ponder plot, character and word choices without fretting over a slipping slip or pinched toes. Having stated that, I must admit, I'm guilty of breaking that rule.

Mainly, it's happened on the road, when I'm supposed to be speaking. Speaking is like writing. You should be comfortable. You want to talk to others about the process without a look of agony overwhelming your face.

Years ago, when I first started visiting schools, I bought a sensible black skirt and a cream sweater. I also bought a body-shaper. The retailer can call them body-shapers, but believe me, after a full school day visit and an evening store book signing a body-shaper is better described as a girdle. It squeezes and pinches just like one. I don't know what it does with the excess, but it punishes you for not exercising off the inches. By the time I stopped for the day, it was 8 o'clock and I hadn't eaten since that morning. I drove to a seafood restaurant, ordered my meal, then went to the ladies room and got rid of the miserable thing. Let's just say I didn't leave the restaurant with it.

Shoes are a weakness of mine and I occasionally buy shoes that have to be "broken in." Last spring I bought a pair of nautical heels that felt comfortable when I purchased them at mid-afternoon. Blue and white stripes with a red bow across the toes--they were cute!

I waited to wear them to something special. The something special turned out to be Book Expo where I would be speaking at a Holtzbrink dessert party. The party would follow a dinner with some booksellers. Maybe it was the raw clams and oysters with horseradish sauce at dinner that made my feet swell. I don't know. I do know that as the evening progressed, I felt like Cinderella's nasty step-sister who had somehow managed to squeeze her feet into Cindy's glass slippers. I was miserable.

After dinner I limped the four blocks to the party as best I could. We arrived at a festive room filled with booksellers and Holtzbrink folks. I scoped out the room. Everyone was smiling and laughing. These were smart people, I concluded. They wore comfortable shoes.

I hate to admit it, but I tried to sneak out of the party. My dear editor didn't realize that marketing had planned for me to speak that night. When I told her, "My shoes are murdering my feet," she said, "Oh, Kimberly, I'm so sorry. Let's leave then."

We were stopped at the door by a marketing person. "Kimberly, it's almost time for you to go on."

My talk was prepared. I'd timed myself and memorized the key points I wanted to make about my new book, PIPER REED NAVY BRAT. But in that miserable moment, the words escaped my head. I think my toes had kidnapped them. I tried taking off my shoes. The words didn't come back. Besides, I got a lot of strange looks in the room. A lot of people staring at my bare feet. I quickly squeezed back into my shoes just in time to hear my name called to the podium.

Somehow I managed to talk about the book. I don't remember what came out of my mouth because the only words that thumped inside my brain were, WRITERS SHOULD BE COMFORTABLE.

I'm sharing a photo of my nautical shoes with you. I bet I would look darling in them, but for the next few weeks, I'll be wearing my clogs. I'm busy rewriting.

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