Blog Tour: The Writing Process

Crap. It’s Monday. This is due today, isn’t it? Okay, focus. Drink coffee. Feed the pets. Boot laptop. Battery’s dead? Already? Plug in. Google “samsung series 9 battery life crap.” So it’s not just me. That’s good. Right. What was the topic again?

There, you’ve just had a taste of “my writing process.” Sorry to disappoint you. If you want good advice, you should probably go back and read Kimberly Pauley‘s blog post again.

author Kimberly PauleyBut, seriously… the lovely Kimberly Pauley, author of the much-anticipated Ask Me, invited me to participate in this blog tour about Writing Process. No kidding, you should definitely read what she had to say about it. Our, ahem, “processes” are not the same.
Now back to me.

Paula FreedmanWhat am I currently working on?

I’m working on a second middle-grade novel. I can’t tell you what it’s about. If I were capable of summarizing it in a paragraph, I probably wouldn’t be writing a full-length novel, knowwhatimean? It’s got a little humor, a little heartbreak, and (in a major milestone for me) it’s written in the third person. Right now. That could change. Just saying. It’s not a sequel to My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, but I’m hoping it’ll appeal to the same sorts of readers.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That’s a tricky question. In My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, readers seemed to appreciate that Tara’s “differences” were no big deal. Meaning, the diversity elements of the story were not the “problem” of the novel, just facts. That’s cool.

Why do I write what I write?

Because my characters tell me to. That’s not exactly true. I’m pretty sure my characters don’t know about me, or wouldn’t care. They pretty much talk amongst themselves while I eavesdrop. I become interested in the characters and the story follows. The premise for My Basmati Bat Mitzvah came to me while I was walking down the street (Upper West Side of NYC, so not that surprising). Here’s what I told The Streetlight Reader in my first online interview:

I came up with the title first, the story next. I was literally walking down the street when it came to me. It felt right. By the time I got home and wrote anything down, Tara and Mum were already arguing in my head. That first day I wrote just one page (which I ended up using in chapter three – it hasn’t changed very much!).

How does my individual writing process work?

See paragraph one. Okay, semi-seriously. I alternate between writing in total isolation at home (cookies, coffee, napping, talking to self) and writing side-by-side in public with like-minded companions (cookies, coffee, no napping, writing until the cursed battery runs out, talking to self and companions, teeth brushed). I recently moved to London from NYC and was thrilled to find a new group (mainly Kimberly Pauley and Tracey Mathias) as inspiring as my NYC group (Margaret Crocker and a revolving cast of geniuses). I am super motivated by deadlines. When I don’t have a real one, I will inform my agent or editor that I will deliver something to her by a specified date, and then I will miss that deadline by only a few days. I plan to write every day Monday through Friday (and usually do); I don’t write on weekends because it’s my job and nobody works seven days a week. By the time Monday rolls around again, I’m itching to get going. I’m not allowed to watch TV while I’m working, though I often listen to music and take the aforementioned naps (giving those characters in my head time to stretch their legs).

Next up in the blog tour:

author Michelle KnudsenMy friend Michelle Knudsen, prolific author of adorable picture books and thrilling novels. Two that you’ll want to keep beyond their return date are Library Lion and the upcoming Evil Librarian (sporting my favorite cover of all time–but you’ll have to wait until it comes out in September. Mwahahaha!).
author Sheri KoonesFor something completely different–Sheri Koones, journalist and author of Prefabulous World: Energy Efficient and Sustainable Homes Around the Globe, coming out just in time for Earth Day. The book profiles 50 of the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly houses around the world.
I can’t wait to read their answers on April 14.

63 ways crocheting is like writing


Crocheting a blanket has a lot in common with writing a novel.

  1. In the beginning, you might not know where it’s going, but an inevitable pattern emerges.
  2. You toiled in secret for ages, yet it looks a lot like one someone else did last year.
  3. The building blocks are all basically the same.
  4. It’s never really “done.”
  5. You were “inspired” by someone else’s work, but this is all your own.
  6. If you were doing it for the money, you’d never break even.
  7. Someone might look at it, shrug, and say “I could do that”–but they didn’t.
  8. It’s not everyone’s style.
  9. No one will ever know what you poured into it.
  10. At some level, you really need the praise.
  11. No one will ever make the exact same one.
  12. The work is thoroughly monotonous.
  13. It will be enjoyed briefly by the recipient, then spend eternity on a shelf.
  14. Seriously, if people sent YOU a whole pile of them every week, could you judge which was the best?
  15. You really don’t care if no one ever gets to see it but you (yeah, right).
  16. You’ve lost the thread more times than you care to admit.
  17. One loose end and the whole thing falls apart.
  18. All you see are those loose threads. You just hope no one pulls on them.
  19. Honestly though, one or two dangling threads do not catastrophe spell. Everyone chill out, alright?
  20. You’ve been working on the same one all your life.
  21. Taken as a whole, it looks pretty impressive.
  22. Your family and friends think you’re crazy.
  23. Inevitably, the experts say you’re doing it wrong.
  24. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who does it. You’ve never heard of them.
  25. Outside of some rarefied circles, nobody knows your name.
  26. Some people are fans of your work. You wonder why.
  27. You have several unfinished ones in a drawer.
  28. You probably should not have quit your day job.
  29. For this you went to college?
  30. You really don’t NEED formal training…
  31. Some prefer to do it in groups, others in total isolation.
  32. The hard work is tidying up the loose ends.
  33. Each little section may be pretty, but it’s the connections that really count.
  34. Sometimes you have to unravel and start over.
  35. You often repeat yourself, for, um, “effect.”
  36. As soon as you finish, you start another one.
  37. Your fingers are about to fall off.
  38. You can’t believe anyone would criticize it.
  39. The structure is comforting, but it can be inhibiting.
  40. Once you’re in, you’re stuck with it.
  41. Halfway through, you have a better idea.
  42. You can pick up where you left off six months ago.
  43. You long to work on something else.
  44. You spend all day trying to find the right hook.
  45. Others are far more prolific.
  46. You get better at it as you go.
  47. It cracks you up when a young person comes to you for advice on the craft.
  48. Once it’s finished, somebody’s going to throw up on it.
  49. It’ll look dated real fast.
  50. Your heart will stop when you see it in a second-hand shop.
  51. It’s more expensive than it looks.
  52. You can work on a piece at a time, and sew it together later.
  53. It has bits of you woven into it, even if you didn’t mean to.
  54. It even smells like you.
  55. It can be hard to tell them apart.
  56. The world really doesn’t need another one.
  57. You can keep adding to it forever if someone doesn’t make you stop.
  58. You’ll probably never meet a man that way.
  59. When you boil it down, there are basically only two or three different ways it could go.
  60. It’s something of an obsession.
  61. You’re skeptical of everyone else’s ability to do it, let alone judge it.
  62. Everyone has advice.
  63. You suspect someone has already done it better.

Jewish Indian books

So, I started a list on Goodreads called The Canon of Jewish/Indian Books (title is pretty self-explanatory, I think.) Would love if y’all could add to it. I came up with 5, which hardly qualifies as a canon. I bet there are a lot more.

Go here:

Diwali Tov!

“Almost before I knew it, it was November, and Diwali was here. Meena Auntie’s annual Diwali potluck would be on Saturday, so on Friday Daddy did a trial run of his contribution–potato latkes with tamarind chutney and yogurt sauce. Mum and I pronounced it a huge success, much better than the chana-jor-garam-crusted chicken wings he attempted last Diwali, which in theory should have been delicious but actually were just soggy and awkward to eat.”

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, chapter 27

Diwali Tov, everyone!

Good advice from a young reader

I mentioned to a young reader at THE INSIDE STORY event at Bank Street Books today, that actually My Basmati Bat Mitvzah is the second book I wrote, but the only one to be published. “Maybe you can take the good parts of the other one and put them inside a real book,” she suggested. I think I will try that.