Why do you write?
Not writing isn’t an option. I started very young, too young to have an idea of a “why.” So, I think maybe there isn’t one. Or that I’m too tired to remember it right now. Maybe both.
What books do you read?
Honestly, right now, I don’t very much anymore. I read so many in graduate school (both times) that I’m sick of reading. I read poetry and essays by women who send them to me for a book I’m editing with Lara Lillibridge. Oh, wait. Maybe that’s why I’m sick of reading.
What inspires you?
Everything. Pain. Misery. Love. Also hopscotch with my youngest niece or listening to my oldest talk about her photographs or discussing life with my very inquisitive nephew.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?
I started writing very young. Seven. So, I have no real memory of the day I knew I wanted to be a writer. seems like I always knew. Now, the better question would be, “when did you tell your parents and how?” Because I have actual photo evidence of that below.
THAT is me in my mother’s velvet suit jacket. I’m nine-ish. I have on her giant, awful 1980s sunglasses. Pen and notebook in hand. That’s the day I told them I was going to be a writer. Because, you know….you have to look like you know what you’re doing. Apparently, I really knew the hell out of what I was doing judging by that swanky velvet jacket, bad perm, and over-sized glasses. Any writer worth her salt owns an outfit exactly like this and wears it to any and all writerly functions or people will just never take her seriously.
How do you deal with rejection?
I started sending letters to publishing companies when I was 14 asking them if they would publish my “collection of short stories.” Yes. A “collection” of maybe 5 stories by a 14 year old. Naturally, I had a heaping bag of rejection letters that I kept for years, until I finally threw them out because I couldn’t remember why I had been keeping them. Since I started so early, I have little reaction to rejection of that sort now. I think, shit, that sucks. Then, move on. Now, you didn’t specify, so maybe you meant rejection from men? That has never happened to me. I am basically flawless. It’s ridiculous how many people are in love with me right this second. I mean. Right. At. This. Second. (For people who don’t understand sarcasm that was a joke.)
Who are some writers you admire?
whomever will get me into magazines and an agent if I mention them. Pfffft. Kidding. I admire so many. That’s an impossible list to compile. It begins with personal friends of mine to someone whose work I only read once, to someone I’ve never met and whose name I forgot who posts one poem online that strikes a chord at the right time. I also love writers who are new and trying and lost and striving. I love seeing that kind of passion that so many experienced writers have lost, you know, the ones who are so accomplished they’re bored or they aren’t famous, so they’ve given up. I love writing. LOVE. Your gift can never let you down.
Is writing the only artistic medium you do?
Nope. I was in a little duo for many years and sang in bars with a guitarist who wrote songs. We sang lots of covers, too. I was not trained in it but I loved it. I also just started to paint this last year, which I don’t know anything about. I prefer to keep it that way. I’ve studied writing and I’m glad I did but it also made it more difficult. Painting is easy. You have to keep something easy.
What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?
To my high school self. To keep writing. But maybe also to go out and do other things as well. Don’t be afraid to make friends. And don’t date seriously until you’re in college. To my college self: these are possibly your best years so stop complaining and also, drink less!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
To pay attention to the world. All the material you need is right there. Observe others. Oh, and talk to children. They know it all.
What is your writing process?
Usually, I get an idea. Then I write. Well, I sit first. But I write after sitting. You have to sit otherwise you’ll be standing. And it’s not really that easy to write standing. I guess you could.