Kiri Blakeley Can’t Think Straight!

Kiri Blakeley’s hot new memoir Can’t Think Straight: A Memoir of Mixed Up Love recounts the crazy period in her life that followed her boyfriend’s announcement that actually he’s not quite as straight as he once thought. Today  Kiri Blakeley is here to talk about her process as a writer and is giving away a copy of her funny, action-packed memoir. If you love a memoir in which the narrator is twice as forthcoming about her own transgressions as anyone else’s, you’ll want to leave a comment below.  I’ll announce the name of the randomly selected winner here on January 24th at 9am Pacific.

Theo: What was the most challenging aspect of writing Can’t Think Straight?

Interestingly, writing the book was the easiest part. It’s everything that came after that that was a challenge. The book was essentially a cri de coeur, a journal, emotions I was bleeding onto the page because I was in so much turmoil. I had so much drama happening in my life, I didn’t need to formulate a plot or narrative. I just wrote it all down as it happened. Truth is stranger than fiction. I doubt I will ever have an easier time writing anything again.

After the writing process is where the difficulties cropped up for me. Everything from the proofreading to picking the title to the seeing the book cover to marketing the book and trying to get press, to dealing with wacky people on the Internet who hate you because you wrote a book, you name it. Everything after the writing part was like pushing a boulder uphill with one arm. No, make that one finger—my weakest finger. No, wait, make that my toe.

Theo: This book is as much—if not more—about your own sexuality as your former boyfriend’s. What was it like to write so openly about your life?  Had you written personal essays/memoir before taking on this project?

It came very naturally to me to write about my sexual experiences during this book because, as I said, I was just journal writing. I didn’t think at all about anyone else reading it, which is why it’s a bit brutal and embarrassing in some places. After I knew it would be published and I was editing, about a year later, that is when reality set in and I had a few panic attacks. Literally. I had to call my editor and she would talk me off the ledge. At one point, I desperately wanted to soften some sexual things I’d written and she said, “Kiri, please don’t.” Whether I liked it or not, this was a sexual journey as well as an emotional one, because it was sex that took my fiance from me. There was nothing else wrong with us. But he was homosexual, and I am not a man. That’s a bit of a deal breaker. So it would have been a bit disingenuous, and unfair, to talk about his sex life, but not my own. And maybe I’m deluding myself, but I thought I talked much more about my thoughts than my sexual experiences—which I tended to dispatch in a couple of sentences. But people focus on that stuff because, I guess, people are a bit sex obsessed.

Theo: What does your writing time look like?  Do you have a routine?

Kiri: With the book, I wrote whenever my brain went wild—which was quite a lot. I didn’t write while at work, but I wrote whenever anything else happened to me. I did a lot of writing at 5 am when my brain synapses were on overload and I couldn’t sleep. And I’m not a morning person. That will never happen again! Otherwise I wrote pretty much in real time. My memory is not the greatest, so I knew if I had a conversation I wanted to include, I had to write it down right away after it happened, or it wouldn’t be accurate. That is really where my reporter’s experience kicked in.

Theo:What was it like to balance your work as a writer for Forbes with the writing of the book?

Kiri: For about a year, I was running on the adrenaline of emotional trauma (and cigarettes). I didn’t sleep much. So I was able to write before work, catch a quick nap, get into work, do my job, come home, eat, and write some more. Rinse, repeat. If I had to do that again, I’d kill myself.

Theo: What parts of the writing process do you love?  Loathe?

Kiri: I love the editing process. I love going back, trying to make sense of what is on the page, finding the exact word you want to use (I usually go by sound—to me, writing is like music, it’s all in the sound), and I especially get a little thrill out of cutting things that I’m attached to. In journalism school, they call it “killing your kittens.” Parts that you think are so wonderful and you are so attached to—those are usually the exact things that don’t contribute anything and have to go. There’s nothing I loathe about it, though occasionally I’ve had assignments I was kind of bored with, and it would take me awhile to start them.

Theo: When did you first think of yourself as a writer?

Kiri: I always expressed myself with writing and enjoyed doing it and it came naturally to me. As a kid, I would write plays, cast them, and put them on for the entire school every week. When I was 14, I spent the whole summer inside on an old typewriter, tapping out a screenplay—which took place in a jungle in the Ivory Coast. Makes sense for a teen that had never been out of the country, right? In terms of trying to be a professional writer, I didn’t really think of that until I was 21 and had just graduated from college and wasn’t sure what career I should pursue. I just thought, “Okay, I can write. Guess I’ll do that.” And then I spent three years writing a really bad novel. But you have to get that first bad novel out of your system.

Theo: What are some of the ways you’ve built your platform as a writer?

Kiri: My biggest platform was my writing at Forbes—especially in the last year, when I got a column at ForbesWoman. I would just pick a topic, usually about women or entertainment, and sound off on it. The editors there seemed to really like it, and the columns were pretty popular.

Theo: Who are some of the authors who’ve inspired you?

Kiri: Jane Eyre is the first thing I remember reading, at 21, where I thought, “Oh, I want to write like this.” I thought Charlotte Bronte’s writing really grabbed you by the throat in a very visceral way. She has a very strong personal voice. Maybe she didn’t write about world events or the human condition, but she didn’t need to because all of that was encapsulated in the microcosm of her overpowering personal feelings, which were often romantic in nature. My first novel was basically a Jane Eyre retread, but we won’t go into that. Bronte also had a wicked sense of humor, a very sharp one, yet she could be painfully vulnerable. I enjoyed the combination, and felt it spoke to me. I love Anais Nin too, who is extremely emotionally truthful in her writing, but she’s never funny.

Theo: What’s your favorite writing tip?

Kiri: I get so many people who tell me they want to write a book, but they aren’t writing. It really can take years to learn a skill, so you have to write. No one would say, “I want to be a violinist” and only pick up a violin once every few months. But even more important is to get edited. Constantly—by brutal people. By people who make you cry. I eventually stopped crying, but at journalism school, and at Forbes, I was subjected to a constant vigorous editing process. Without a cold impersonal truthful eye on your writing, you are never going to get good. So when I say get edited, I don’t mean by your mother, unless your mother is a professor at Columbia Journalism School or is an editor at the New York Times or something. (And if she is, please introduce me!)

Theo: Where can readers find you online?

Kiri: People can email me at my website, kiriblakeley.com. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. And I email back! So email me!

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31 Responses to Kiri Blakeley Can’t Think Straight!

  1. Robyn Miller says:

    Cannot wait to read this… Any memoir to read is a treat… A memoir on this subject is simply “candy”.

  2. Shannon says:

    Oh this sounds soooo good!!!

  3. Tiffany D. says:

    Sounds great, adding it to my must-read list!!

  4. Maureen says:

    I adore writing. It was great to hear her talk about the rest of the process she went through to finish her book. I rarely read about this aspect of writing. I don’t have trouble finding things to write about either so it’s great to read about the other side of writing.

  5. Jean Engler says:

    I want to read this book having been through this experience myself.

  6. Maria M. says:

    Memoirs are my favorite genre, and this one looks like it won’t disappoint!

  7. Emma says:

    I am finishing up my own memoir and am reading everything I can get my hands on. This one looks fun!

  8. Jane says:

    Having been through a similar experience, I want to read this book. I’m not yet sure how to tell our story, but it is always nice to know one isn’t alone.

  9. Kiri says:

    Wow, it’s amazing that out of 8 comments, 2 have gone through a similar experience. Shows you how common this is! And thanks to everyone for your nice comments.

  10. Deirdre Wilcox says:

    Although I am burning with curiosity about this book and await excitedly to read it, what I am struck by is the boldness. Nothing is more powerful (and sexy) than a woman’s voice telling her truth and experience, especially on subjects other than cooking or knitting….. The nasty people aren’t connected to their own humanity, let alone yours. And for the writer in me, I am still laughing about the violin analogy. Thanks for calling it as it is. There it is, more truth.

  11. Rick Roberts says:

    Sounds like a good reaad to me. I’ve been writing about some sexual experiences lately, and when I go back over them, it’s surprising the risks I took and the boldness I USED to have.

  12. Adelaide says:

    Useful knowledge! I have been previously hunting for something such as this for some time now. With thanks!

  13. Kajal says:

    Looks like an amazing book! –hope to read it! :)

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  15. Ron Stevens says:

    Funny how we discover we’re not alone when it comes to life changing events. I would enjoy reading this.

  16. jennifer says:

    I can so relate! I was engaged & we had a child together, but something just wasnt right. I found out he was Sleeping with other men off of craigslist. It destoyed a part of me, But it also answered so much for me as well. I’m still struggling with it, but much much better.

  17. Cynthia says:

    Lucky for your readers that you keep a journal. Honest, direct writing. I like what you had to say about editing — my favorite part of writing. I find it a lot like gardening, rearranging plants and stones for aesthetic effect. And I have almost as much pleasure in lifting the stones — finding the right words — as in the end result.

  18. Karla Fox says:

    Such an interesting background you have Kiri! Not only do I want to read THIS book, I also want to read the “really bad novel” you worked on for three years!

  19. kim says:

    Kiri-I can’t wait to read this book. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable about such a difficult topic. You did fantastic on JB SHow!

  20. Stefani says:

    I’m glad you didn’t give Aaron a free pass on his betrayal… Even if you did sleep with him again (ewwww)!

  21. Kiri says:

    For those of you who are saying you will buy the book, thank you very much, and then come to kiriblakeley.com and tell me your thoughts! I am really looking forward to them!

  22. Kiri says:

    @Stephani, proof positive I’m not homophobic as some have said! But yeah, talk about being confoozled.

  23. Jennifer says:

    For those of you that haven’t read this … you have too! It’s a fantastic read – brutally honest, painful, funny, etc. – a great insight into the “death” of a trusting & loving relationship, the damage that does to your ability to trust, and climbing out of the rubble! Thanks again, Kiri!

  24. Kiri says:

    @Jennifer, people will think you paid me for that comment. Wait, did I pay you? :)

  25. Cassandra Hamilton says:

    So can’t wait to read this!!!!! And to think, I knew you “when”!

  26. Kiri says:

    Thank you again for everyone who read and commented. I know very well that real life can often overtake the initial impetus to buy a book, so I just want to say that I think it’s worth the $8. Just sayin.’ :) It’s funny, it’s fast paced, I also think it’s heartfelt, and it’s got a lot of snappy dialogue (thank you my witty friends and lovers). Come on over to kiriblakeley.com, check out the video and the first chapters. And if (no, WHEN! when!) you read, lemme know your thoughts. Thanks!!

  27. Lisa X. says:

    Kiri- Thankfully your friends in PR told me to get your book because I was faced with the same thing after 17 years of marriage, a child, and business together. The only thing is my husband (soon to be ex) is in the “public eye”. So, as our son says is “we suffer in silence”. Thankfully, you have been able to shed a huge spot light on this. And I truly thank you for that, as there are 4milion women going through this deception. It really makes you question who you are as a woman. And my son & I have know idea how we been surviving for the past 6 months while he continues in his “lie” to the public. Thanks!

  28. Mariann says:

    Gone throught similar situation, 20 years of marriage. In a way glad its a man. Realized nothing wrong with me. Its the lying and the deception that I can not stand and it wasn’t just to me to everyone. God teaches us forgiveness.

  29. Pingback: Author Gossip: Who’s Doing What Now | Writing is My Drink

  30. Zito says:

    Very interesting read. I am a
    Also, what is confoozled? Never heard that before…

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