Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"You learn what the right thing is by writing the wrong thing over and over." — Kristin Cashore's BITTERBLUE signing recap!

It's no secret that we're diehard fans of Kristin Cashore, so when we found out she had a signing at Children's Book World (our local indie children's bookstore), we sent each other emails with an abundance of exclamation points.

To say the least.

So last Thursday, Sara and I headed to CBW for (semi-reserved) fangirling and BITTERBLUE-themed snacks!

So much blue! And there was bread. I haven't read
the book yet, but apparently it's significant.

The bookshelf o' Cashore.
First, Kristin read a couple excerpts from BITTERBLUE, and oh man did they make me want to read it! It's been about a year since I last read FIRE, and I forgot how much I loved Kristin's wry sense of humor, and her quiet delivery made it all the more effective. Kristin's writing totally sucks me into her characters' world, so I know to reserve multi-hour blocks of time to sit down and read!

Humor in her books is kinda like her outfit:
All business and then BAM zebra-stripe socks.
During the discussion part of the event, Kristin told us how she often uses street names for character names (and she's originally from eastern PA, so lots of local streets!). She also mentioned that some world building elements from GRACELING that she didn't fully think through ended up tripping her up when she expanded the world in her later books, and she then had to figure out a logical explanation for them after-the-fact. Rookie mistakes she wants us to learn from!

And then... Kristin made it Christmas for every single aspiring writer in the room. 

She brought her original, handwritten BITTERBLUE draft. (Yep, she writes all first drafts longhand and then uses voice recognition software to make it electronic.) Basically, she talked about how long the process can take when you want to do it right, when you want to do your story justice. BITTERBLUE's a hefty book at 500+ pages, but the original version was over 700 pages, with many characters and subplots she later cut. And after much emotional torment, she ended up rewriting it from scratch to make it the story it had to become.

The notebook!
It sounds crazy, but it was so wonderful to hear how discouraged and frustrated Kristin got with herself in the writing process. When she was showing us the notebook, she pointed to a page and said, "I don't know if you can read this. It says: 'This blows.'" (Again, love her sense of humor.) It's definitely a good motivator to know that she has low moments and self-doubt, but the end product still ends up phenomenal.

The discussion and Q&A were excellent, but there was one other thing she said that resonated with me enough to scribble down:

"You learn what the right thing is by writing the wrong thing over and over."

Simple advice, but it's something I need to keep taped up by my computer at all times!

Anyway, it was a fantastic signing, and the CBW staffers did a great job, as usual! If you have the chance to meet Kristin (she'll be at BEA! yay!), definitely take it. Thanks, Kristin!

And if you haven't already, check out Sara's review of BITTERBLUE!


  1. You're so lucky :D ! I really want to meet Kristin Cashore one day I hope she'll do signings in Europe and especially in France soon !
    I read Bitterblue last week and loved it <3.

    1. Our fingers are crossed for you! We were ecstatic to learn she would be in our area.

  2. Her advice sounds like my style of write again again again again until it's right. Also SO sad still I couldn't make it.

    1. You'll meet her at BEA!! She definitely made me think of you with her revision style.

  3. Thank you thank you thank you for recapping the event! It's the closest we've come to Kristin yet, but hopefully we'll get to meet her ourselves one day. We adore her writing, for many of the same reasons you described. And what a great quote! What an encouraging story behind the story! This totally made our day.

    1. So happy you loved the recap! It was a really wonderful event, and I'm glad I could share it with you ladies!

  4. Awesome!! I wish I could hear her read from her book and talk about her process...this is the next best thing! Thank you!

    1. We were really lucky to get to meet her -- I hope she signs near you someday!


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