The BRAVE Interview #4 November 2016: Kristen Conley Leighton

Hello and welcome to the next in the series of The BRAVE Interviews! It’s the Who, What, When, Where, How,  (and sometimes Why) of YOUR ‘one brave thing’!


Welcome to Interview #4 with Kristen Conley Leighton!

  1. WHO are you? Share whatever you want to about yourself personally.

Wow, so we’re starting with the hardest question!  Most days, I’m not really sure.   That statement can be traced back to the day I was born.  See, I was switched at birth.  Truly.  I was somehow confused with another baby girl born at almost the exact same time.  The next morning, a nurse arrived in my mother’s room with the wrong bundle. “That’s not my baby,” my mother said to her.  “Go back and try again.”   

The socially acceptable answer: My name is Kristen Conley Leighton.  I am a yoga teacher and a storyteller/writer. 

  1. WHAT is your One Brave Thing (so far!!) for 2016?

I destroyed a manuscript that I had been working on for seven years.  I’m not sure if that is brave or just plain stupid.

My trusted readers advised me to set the manuscript aside because so much of the story wasn’t working for them.  The consensus was that I should begin writing a new novel.  I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was born to tell THAT story, the one I’d just thrown away.  Instead of taking the professional advice, I turned to a blank screen and began rewriting the manuscript I had discarded.

  1. WHEN did you do it?

 It was March of this year. 

  1. WHERE did it occur?

The magic happened in the space in my home where I read, write, and practice yoga.

  1. HOW did you make it happen?

 I had burned the pages, permanently deleted all the drafts from my computer, and smashed the memory stick with a hammer before putting it in the trash.  I had no other choice.  It was a good thing, really.  

  1. WHY did you do it?

That’s a great question, and one my husband keeps asking over and over again.  It probably would have been easier to start working on something new.  That said, I had a pretty strong feeling that if I couldn’t save the drowning man in my novel, I’d never be able to save myself.  I felt like I had to tell the story.  And, based on feedback from the original manuscript, I had to find a better way to tell it.

This novel and its main character brought me closer to all of my well-guarded fears and insecurities than I’d ever come before.  The subject I was writing about could not be explored from a safe distance.  When I tackled the story in a more honest way and allowed myself to dive in and swim around in all of that fear and insecurity, well, I think it resulted in a more empathetic character in the final draft.   If you love a drowning man with a fierce heart, he just might figure out how to swim to shore on his own.  The first draft lacked heart.  Deep down, maybe I always knew that. 

So, that’s it.  It’s not glamorous…but it is my “one brave thing.”

Thank you so much for telling your story here, Kristen!

Check out Kristen Conley Leighton’s other writings here on her website:


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