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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

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Hardly Asked Questions

Because I have less than six weeks to prepare for my poetry readings in Ireland, and because I swore last night that from here on out, I would Get Down to Business, I am suddenly awash with nifty ideas for the blog.

One of these is to start a H.A.Q. file. For Hardly Asked Questions. Things hardly anyone is dying to know.

Here's how it works: you post your question in the comments section here, where you can choose anonymity if you like. In a day or two, I will build a link in the sidebar to the H.A.Q. and we can keep adding to it.

I will do my best to answer all relevant questions. Like, "Newfoundland— isn't that near Latvia?" and "My uncle works at the William Morris Agency. Do you mind if I send him a few chapters of your book?" or "Where can I get a Rottschund?" Questions along the lines of "Do you want these incriminating pictures back?" should be directed to my personal email.

You can ask serious questions, too. If they aren't too personal. For a blog. Which gives you pretty much carte blanche.

Please try and avoid life's big imponderables, like, "Why should I care?" or "Don't you have something better to do?" and "My God, woman, what could there possibly be left that you haven't told us?" Those are beyond the scope of the H.A.Q. or my ability to answer.

As for the person who came here wondering about "extramarital sex without ejaculation" while staying at the Hilton: yes, sweetheart, it's still cheating.

My blogging brethren, feel free to develop your own HAQs. It would be fun to see it go meta.

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Blogger littlepurplecow said...

What a great idea.

If I gave you a blank sheet of paper and asked you to draw something. What would you draw?

11:01 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

I would probably become paranoid that whatever I drew would lead you to make some kind of psychological diagnosis. Like paranoia.

Seriously, I would love to be one of those creative types who can just scribble something spontaneous and brilliant on a cocktail napkin. I was a big fan of James Thurber when I was a kid. But drawing was never my thing.

I once doodled The Scream on my notepad during a board meeting. What does that tell you?

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which book did you enjoy most as a child?

3:02 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Cahilla, I don't think I could choose one. I had my nose in books constantly. I loved all the standards, AA Milne, CS Lewis, Shel Silverstein, mythology, and the fairy tales in the english LadyBird Series Well Loved Tales.

I also read from Shakespeare's Collected Works, the Encyclopedia Britannica and an antique collection of ballads we had.

I was crazy for Tintin and Asterix comics and Famous Five novels.

My elementary school library had books in it dating back to my father's childhood, so I also developed an appetite for Cherry Ames and Nancy Drew mysteries, and a Catholic reader called Our Parish which had stories about a praying-together-staying-together 1950s family with a Dad who always wore a suit and hat and a mother who was always baking and smiling. I found it strange and exotic.

I could write a five page list, but I'd better stop. As a parent, I think all kids really need after the basics of shelter, food and care is a love of reading. They can hang everything else on that.

4:23 PM  
Blogger JKC said...

Why do you blog? Do you need to be an accomlpished writer to blog?

4:24 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Jen, you do not even have to be an accomplished typist to blog. This is good news for us both. ;-)

I am an accidental blogger. I started my first blog as a travel diary for a trip home to Newfoundland. I was surprised to find it very freeing. It gave me a sense of pleasure about writing that I had never experienced before. Face it, it is hard to attach weighty expectations to a blog.

I had read exactly one blog before I started. I was such a newbie. A friend told me about Dooce and I read a few posts and sent her a nice email saying, hey, you can really write. good luck with the blog, and hope something comes of it!

My friend later told me that Dooce had just been featured in Glamour magazine and had something like 40,000 visitors a week.

I would like to say this cured me of enthusiastically emailing total strangers to say, "Hi! I have a blog too!", but I fear it is compulsive.

I think of myself as the Will Ferrell character in Old School: "Come on everybody! We're streaking the quad!" And there I go all by myself with my ass hanging out.

Hence, my label for posts about blogging is streaking the quad.

5:08 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

If I asked you to have the excitement tonight, would you say yes?

9:05 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

only if the baby were to go to sleep before I do. I find the wonderpets theme song strangely anti-erotic on the fifteenth consecutive hearing.

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Liesel Elliott said...

How are Newfoundland and Arkansas alike?

9:34 PM  
Blogger littlepurplecow said...

... that tells me that it's a good thing you don't spend a lot of time in board meetings. :-O

11:33 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

liesel said...
How are Newfoundland and Arkansas alike?

You guys don't ask short-answer questions, do you (except the one from my husband)?

Liesel, my mother has observed that the chief difference is that abandoned cars here seem to be of a better class and rust more slowly.

Physically, they are nothing alike. It took me several years to get used to how lush everything is here. I was used to being able to see the horizon. It's why I like winter in Arkansas. You can see through the trees to the sky.

Culturally, I guess you'd say they share a certain roughness around the edges. Definitely a rebel streak (or perverseness, depending on which side of it you fall on).

I think I transplanted more easily to the South than I would have to any other region of the U.S. There is a sense of apartness and a mythology people have about themselves here that I connect with. I've written about at more length over here.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous lilalia said...

If you discovered a magic lamp and Aladdin turned out to be Scotty from Startrek, to which three places would you say “Beam me down, Scotty”?

9:57 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...


Any port of call along the northern side of the Mediterrean Sea.

can I travel through time, as well as space?

The woods and banks along the Humber River, in Newfoundland, as I knew them as a child.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous E. Harper said...

You mentioned that your husband works at home as well. What type of work does he do and is it difficult to stay focused on your work with him there?

5:15 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

He is a freelance graphic artist. This site's banner (my concept) was executed by him.

He pretty much stays in his home office with the blinds down, whereas I am pretty much constantly on the move. I have a part time job that takes me out of the house two days a week. The one day we are home together without any kids around is the day I do my Real Writing. He will raise his eyebrows suggestively at me en route to the coffee pot, and I go on pulling my hair and glowering at the laptop.

It's sort of a non-mating ritual.

7:51 AM  
Blogger Kimblahg said...

Since you reside in Arkansas, have you ever visited Wal-mart's world headquarters? How do you feel about the Wal-marts?

6:00 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

uh-oh. This is where I get drummed out of town.

I have not been to the HQ, but four times a year I look at my shopping list (on a 3 X 5 card, naturally) and think, "Well, shit. I'm going to Wal-mart."

You know the list I mean. The one that encompasses a sewing notion, a kids birthday present, a vacuum filter, fertilizer for the rose bush, ink cartridges, sunscreen and trout bait.

Where else are you going to get all those things in the same building?

I find the place soul-sucking and I try to get in and out as quickly as possible. Target does weird things to me also, but it is more of an upper. Wal-mart is a total downer.

Curiously, it has a different vibe in Canada. A store opened up near my mother's house a few years ago, and the place is like the town square. It's almost a festive atmosphere. Even the greeters seem genuinely welcoming. Maybe it's a small town thing.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Geoff Meeker said...

Kyran, what were you thinking when you stood on the beach at Middle Cove? (And why weren't you standing on the shore of the Bay of Islands?)

2:00 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

I was thinking about the many times I have stood on that same shore and felt all the contrary forces that are always tugging on me.

I was thinking how the sand there (a bowl of which I keep on my mantle in Little Rock) repeats the beach rocks in miniature; the same shapes and colours, just worn down that much more.

I was thinking how I sent Patrick photographs of the ice there in winter when we were first internet penpals and how it was one of the first places I took him that mad, first time he came to Newfoundland to see if he could persuade me to leave with him.

In another season, another photo, I might well be caught standing on the shore below my mother's summer place on the Bay of Islands, where my children love to beachcomb. But this trip was a wonderful, insane, whirlwind flight for the sake of my cousin's wedding last September. I was home on the island for two precious days only. One was given over to the wedding.

The other belonged to Middle Cove.

Thanks for your kind note of earlier today, Geoff. Keep coming back.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Juliet said...

I love your site. You spoke to my writing institute class yesterday so I had to check it out. I am also a mother and your stuff about your relationship with your kids and your marriage made me tear up. I was extremely moved by it. I am toying with the idea of blogging, but am a bit overwhelmed as yet. Thanks again for what you share.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Jen Ballantyne said...

Hi Kyran, I don't actually have a question for you (yet!) but just wanted to let you know how entertaining and funny you are. You really have a great sense of humour and have made me smile a lot this morning reading your answers to these questions. Thanks for a great blog, please continue to share. Jen : )

4:17 PM  
Blogger RW said...

greetings from the west coast.
I found you through a link on say la vie. I am on my day off and I am pacing myself through your archives. I have a number of other things to do today; one of them being tackle a writing assignment. I turned 43 in December and realized that time was ticking by ... I have always dreamed of "being a writer" but seem to stumble over the actual writing part. So, I am taking a course for accountability purposes. I am taking inspiration for those who do write.

my question is "do you have any ritual or thing you do every day to prepare yourself to write"

11:12 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...


I find the more I think about it, and prepare to do it, the less I am inclined to write. I excelled for many years at creating layers upon layers of diversions between me and just writing. Special pens, notepads, desk arrangements, room arrangements, binders, filing systems, feng shui, you name it.

These days, forward motion is my only "rule". If I go several days without writing I notice I start to feel jammed up. Same rules as for bowels.

Doing "The Artist's Way" workbook by Julia Cameron was really helpful in getting rid of years and years of blockage. I can't recommend it enough. I wrote about the experience at more length here

10:06 PM  
Blogger christinatartina said...

I am sure that you are happy to be home with your boys but it was great to have met you in NY! I will most definitely be stopping by your blog. It is very inspiring, your writing is lovely and your life sounds delicious. Your cd will be in the mail before the week is out, that is a promise!

12:13 AM  
Blogger christinatartina said...

I'm sorry, that's not a question!!

12:15 AM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Christina, it's okay - it's so great to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by, and absolutely, come back!


8:09 PM  
Blogger Alicia Mason said...

I really enjoyed the Mommy Wears Prada article. I was wondering whether you are still carrying your LV bag. I have always loved designer bags and own a small Coach. Do you feel weird carrying such an expensive purse? I found one on ebay I can afford and I am considering going for it. I live in a very modest home and wonder if people wonder why does she live there and carry such a bag. What do you think about this? Is the bag all it's cracked up to be?

7:53 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...


if it makes you happy and doesn't put you under undue stress, i.e. debt, I say go for it. I love my bag. It is a luxury item, yes, as is art or jewelry, but it has great functionality.

at first, I did feel a little funny getting into my beat up old minivan with it on, or pulling a stack of grocery coupons from it, but I got over that. Most people aren't looking that closely.

The majority really have no clue what it cost, or assume it's a knock off. The few who recognize it and comment just seem to love and appreciate a really great bag.

8:29 PM  
Blogger hoglawyer said...

what kind of camera do you use?

8:14 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

Sorry I am so long responding to this! I saw it, made a note to myself to answer it, then promptly forgot it. My current point and shoot camera is a Sony Cybershot. I wrote about it here.

Okay, what else? :-)

12:33 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I was very inspired by your blog post on how doing The Artist's Way had a positive impact on your writing. I've had the book for years but never actually worked through the book. Sounds like getting a group together as you suggested is the way to go! Thanks for a great post.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

Kyran, thank you so much for "The Bitter and The Sweet" in Good Housekeeping's December issue. Never before have I been able to verbalize the pain and loss felt around Christmastime, or other inopportune times, versus the happiness I am feeling. I lost my Mother in 2005, and each year is still bitter, but becoming more sweet. I do feel even my 2 year old is missing her Grandma, even though she hasnt met her (that Ive been able to see).
Today would have been my Mom's 51st birthday, and while it feels the rest of the world is singing for Christmas, I am crying for my Mama. Thank you for your entire blog, it has been a welcome respite on a lonely day.
Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family!!

10:17 AM  

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