The second writer I am profiling in my series “Where Rye Writers Write” is Annabel Monaghan. With three successful Young Adult books under her belt, Annabel also writes a bi-weekly column for the Rye Record, is a contributor to the Huffington Post and a lifestyle columnist for The Week.
Annabel’s column in the Rye Record is where I first discovered her writing. Here is what you need to know about Annabel. She is funny! I went back and read every single one of her columns after that first one. She perfectly captures the everyday things we all navigate and makes you laugh.
Annabel writes in two places in her home. For her column, she writes in her kitchen/family room, as she says, “to keep it real.” For fiction, she writes in her beautiful living room at a table by the window.
I was an English major in college and took writing classes. But mostly, at that time, my writing training was just reading a lot. The more you read, the more the flow of a story or even a sentence becomes natural to you. As an adult, I’ve taken a novel writing course and a screenwriting course at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, which I loved.
I started writing when I was a little kid. There’s a fine line between being a kid who likes to lie and a kid who’s creative! I made up stories all the time, for better or worse.
I got away from writing when I graduated from college and realized how dependent I’d become on food and shelter. I got a job at an investment bank and didn’t write another word until I was 37, when Elisabeth Wolfe and I wrote Click!
Growing up, I would read stories and think “how did they do that?” I was often more interested in the writing of the story that the story itself. I like the way big words and little words got arranged to create a feeling. I like how capitalizing a word could amplify it’s meaning. I liked how an author could suck me in with the smallest detail, and suddenly I’d find myself still reading at 3am. I started writing because I wanted to be able to do that.
Where in your home do you like to write?
I write in two places. When I need a clear head and I am writing something complicated and that doesn’t stem from my own life (fiction), I like to write in my living room. It’s the only room in my house that no one uses, primarily because there’s no TV. As a result it’s always clean and offers a good spot to keep a clear mind.
When I’m writing my column, which is mostly about the messy reality of being a stay at home mom, I like to write in my kitchen. Sometimes I look at the morning mess, which has merged with the night before mess, and I decide to just get writing and become a part of it. You know those people who can’t think straight unless the dishes are done? I am not one of those people.
Living Room: Obviously, the fact that there are no stray socks in the room is a plus. But everything in this room means something to me. I have recovered a lot of my grandparents’ furniture and write on the game table where I used to play gin with my Nana. The white rug, the most impractical thing I own, was selected by my mom who was equally impractical and infinitely more beautiful. There’s a red painting that I love, made of beeswax, which reminds me to mind my own.
Kitchen: The mess honestly inspires me. I can be writing about a small slice of mom life and look up and see six or seven examples. Surrounded by chicken grease, socks, a floating goldfish and a forgotten school photo order form, how could I ever run out of things to write about?
I try to write everyday. Ideally, I write from 10 to 2:50. There’s a lot of other work to do as a writer that is not writing, like managing social media, scheduling school visits or reading articles like “Six Signs You Might Be a Procrastinator.” I’m frustrated when I am at my computer all day and I’ve written nothing. Some days I have to set a timer and disconnect from the Internet to keep me focused.
Swindle by Gordon Korman. Yes, it’s a little below my reading level but it’s for my mother/son book club.
I frequently dream of going to a cabin on a lake for one solid week alone to write. There would be a really good coffee maker, a fireplace and a wooden table with a comfortable, but not too comfortable chair. However, this dream goes off the rails when Justin Timberlake shows up at my door to borrow a cup of sugar and asks me to dance…
Hands down, the superficial.com. It’s just celebrity gossip that no one cares about but whoever writes it (I think it’s anonymous?) is the best, funniest voice on the internet.
I’d like to be on the New York Times Bestseller list, mainly because then I’d feel I wrote something that really resonated with a lot of people. But my dream job would be to write a column for The Wall Street Journal, like maybe Joe Queenan would retire and give his column to me. (Ahem, Joe! Are you out there?)
I’m working on my regular column about being a mom on the edge at Christmas time, due tomorrow. I’m also working on a screenplay, which is an animated fairytale that I really, really like. And I’m also working on finding the time to get the third Digit book out of my head and into my laptop. Any idea where I can rent a cabin on a lake, preferably near Justin Timberlake?