And here’s mine.
What are you working on?
This morning I got a text from a friend in my MFA program.
Friend: How’s the writing?
Me: Oh ha what writing
(Texting without punctuation on purpose is the future and the present. )
Actually, though, I’m working on short stories now, a series of them that I imagine to be linked, although I’m really trying to just make the best stuff I can make, and not let myself get too far into the tunnel of terror that has to do with writing a book. I’ve been working on the same characters, more or less, for about a decade, writing them down sometimes, but mainly letting them keep me company and unfurl themselves in fits of beautiful, frantic joy. I’m only now starting to put them on paper with intention, which is really scary, but it’s also fascinating to see what can happen, what they can reveal to me about themselves, if I’m giving them attention and space and also relinquish some control.
How does your work differ from others of its genre? What a question. I think I’m still learning the answer to this, the way I’m perpetually learning what kind of writer I am. I hope we all are.
Why do you write what you do? I like writing about people’s inner lives, and I like to steep them in details. I want to write people like those I like to read about, who are difficult and shiny and lush. I think it’s important that my relationship to my writing and my characters always be changing, as scary as that sometimes is to release them. It’s for their own good, and mine. I don’t know why these people, or why people like them, or why things like these things. Other than to say that I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to have experiences I’ll never have, to be different people in different worlds. In that sense, and I don’t mean this melodramatically, there has been more than one time that writing has saved my life and made me better at living it.
What is your writing process? Before I sat down to write this, I ate my way around the free olives and cheese in the market Then I took some photos and looked at some dogs. Then I had a coffee, whilst rattling around on the internet, treating my email inbox, Facebook, and Twitter like they are the most important and holy things on earth. I have to turn off the internet if I’m going to do anything serious. (“The hardest thing in the world is to write fiction instead of doing business.” Dorothy Allison) Then I took a long, grumpy walk before I sat down again, got another coffee and started typing.
This is to say that my process involves caffeine, movement, music, and crankiness. Also perpetual seizures of love for my characters and all their weird beauty. Anxiety that I will never be able to do them justice. Frustration, fear, and then, eventually, something I can only liken to punching through a wall. I try to write something everyday- it lowers the stakes for the next day, and it takes the teeth out of my deeply imbedded fear that writing is based in luck and/or magic.
It’s not always so dramatic, though. I wrote a piece that I still love very much while walking to the subway. I think the best things happen that way- hard, fast, relentless, based in pure instinct.
Tagged: Leah Falk, the poet and genius behind MFA Day Job, Tucker Rosebrock, fiction writer and creator of Soundtracks for Books and Beard, and Joshua Michael Stewart, cat wrangler and poet, whose full length collection, Passage to the Orchards, will be published by Hedgerow Books.