Three Interesting Interviews

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A conversation with Lydia Millet, from Willow Springs (I might be biased here, because I was one of the interviewers, but throughout the conversation Lydia dazzled me with her wit and intelligence; if you haven’t read any of her fiction, I highly recommend you do).

I think any writer of substance is a cultural critic by nature. Almost any. I think books should have an agenda, but I don’t think you should be able to deliver a one-liner about what that agenda is … I just want to feel that it’s there, pulsing behind the bones.

An interview with Aimee Bender, from The Rumpus–an especially interesting read for writers with children, especially writers who are mothers, especially writers who are mothers who have read a good amount of Bender’s work.

Rumpus: How has being a mother of twins affected your writing routine?

Bender: So far no routine at all! But they’re very new and very little so I’m just taking a break from writing, which actually feels good. It’ll be different, though—my two-hours-in-the-morning routine can’t work like it has for a while

An interview with Amy Poehler about her memoir, Yes Please. Though the last two writers are both very funny, there’s such a difference between humor and comedy. I thought this would be a good contrast with the other two interviews. I certainly won’t posit that Poehler is an author in the same league as Bender and Millet, but she is a cultural icon in a way that the other two are not, and her book is memoir while the other two write fiction.

I’m used to writing in characters and not really writing about myself. And it was easier to share the early parts of my life rather than my own current events.

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How to Get Through a Writer’s Block (or, How to Be a Healthy Writer)

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For writers of all genres, “writer’s block” is as inevitable as death and taxes.

All artists experience this. The brain needs its rest, the muses need their vacations, and everyone who’s ever been serious about creative endeavors has sat staring at a blank page, canvas, brick wall, stage or computer page and thought, “I can’t do this.”

But did you notice that I put “writer’s block” in quotation marks? That wasn’t a typo. I “know” how to “use” “quotation marks.”

Seriously, though: I believe that the phrase “writer’s block” is a crutch we use to make our creative clogs seem more serious than perhaps they are. I’ve known writers who treat it as an illness; when they’re blocked, they can do little more than sit around drinking soup and binge-watching Netflix. They spend a lot of time nursing themselves back to health, so to speak. This can last indefinitely.

Of course (to extend my metaphor) there are people who vegetate through an illness and there are those who just keep truckin’. Then there are those of us who used to vegetate but have had to learn to push through. Continue reading → How to Get Through a Writer’s Block (or, How to Be a Healthy Writer)

Writing Prompt: Falling Apart

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I’ll keep this one brief, because today’s writing prompt is something I want you to feel more than think about. Look at the picture of Mr. Potato Head. Really look at it. How does it make you feel? What does it inspire? Laughter? Sadness? Dread?

Okay, now add to that the opening line, “I’m falling apart.” See where it takes you.

I’ll share mine in the comments if you share yours!

The Writer Who Doesn’t Write

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I have not written in a couple of weeks.

Sure, I’ve rattled off a few blog posts, though you’ve doubtless noticed a decline in quality. And lists: ’tis the season for list-making. But my novel has sat, neglected, inside my laptop. My journal is empty, my mind filled not with whimsy and dreams, but numbers, time frames, estimations.

For me, this is an aberration. It happens occasionally, but pragmatism is not my status quo. It baffles me that there are people who always live in this mind space and not just because they have to. Perhaps it shouldn’t–my husband is one of them, and without his attention to detail we would be in a whole heap of trouble–but while I understand the necessity of all this infrastructure and organization, and even revel in it from time to time, it will never give me the thrill I get from creativity.

At least, I hope it won’t.

A lot of the numbers and lists lately have had to do with my online business: selling vintage books and handmade creations, attempting to figure out what people want to buy, trying to learn to think like a business person. It’s the kind of thing I’ve long known I could do, but have avoided because of the immense amount of time and energy it requires. For me, writing has always come first. I’ve had mostly mindless jobs, partly because I didn’t want to drain my brain and come home too exhausted to write.

It has occurred to me several times over the last few months that what I’m doing now, pushing for an actual career outside the literary world, is a form of giving up. Continue reading → The Writer Who Doesn’t Write

NaNoWriMo Recap

cropped-pen-and-paper.pngI have to confess something, you guys.

I totally failed at NaNoWriMo this year.

I was doing so well for the first week, never letting anything get in my way–you could practically hear “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. When I didn’t know what to write I wrote anyway. I really started developing my characters.

Then I realized that my characters were me and my husband and it was getting too personal and convoluted and I was using it as therapy and I really didn’t want to write this story because it dug too deep and it felt inaccurate and I got overwhelmed. I tried to switch gears, start a new project. Then I got busy. I did what I told you all not to do; I skipped a day. Then I skipped another. I slid all the way down that slippery slope.

BUT: Do you remember what I said about NaNoWriMo being a writing exercise more than a quick way to produce a novel? Even when you don’t finish it, it is. And the point of writing exercises is to open up your creativity, give you fresh ideas, and maybe help you learn about yourself as a writer. For me, it was the latter. Continue reading → NaNoWriMo Recap