Hello and thank you to Annie DeWitt for inviting me to participate in this “My Writing Process” blog tour, and to the writers who’ve come before. Please visit them: Rae Bryant, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Tessa Fontaine, and Luke B. Goebel. Next week, you’ll be treated to Jane Liddle and Marina Blitshteyn.
1.) On what am I currently working?
I’m always working on Two Serious Ladies. The magazine is a little more than two years old, and the submissions have really picked up in the last year. It’s great to have the opportunity to read writers I admire, and also to “meet” high school writers, retirees just starting out as writers, and people from outside the U.S. It’s a lot of fun, but it can also be frightening to see the unread submissions pile up. I’m just one person and I don’t want to fall behind or feel burdened by the project. I’ll tell myself, “go as slowly as you like,” (which is already v. slowly) and I’ve recently decided it’s “ok” to accept fewer pieces. I love making TSL and I don’t want to stop loving it or see it as something to check off my list of boring life tasks. When I get some cash, I’ll call up Amanda McCormick and give the site a little makeover.
I’m excited about the work coming out in the next month or so from Carrie Vasios, Keegan Finberg, Rachel Trousale, Claudette Bakhtiar, Elizabeth Goetz, Dana Inez, Sarah-Jane Martin, Liz Dosta, Rachel Levy and Halie Theoharides. Everyone who submits is really kind, and I feel like they “get” what I’m trying to do, and are open when I propose cuts or changes. If I don’t accept a piece, I hope everyone remembers I’m just one opinion.
In terms of my own writing, I’m nearly-done with several short stories and nowhere-near done with a novel. I have some unfinished essays. I’ve set a goal to complete ten stories by my birthday in January. At the encouragement of the great poet Seth Landman, I’m reading Moby Dick for the first time, and it’s by far the most disruptive experience of my writing-life: “Oh, Time, Strength, Cash and Patience.”
2.) How does your work differ from others’ works in the same genre?
One thing I know about this question is that I would have answered it differently when I lived in New York and hung out with a bunch of very funny, wonderful writers. Then, I had a lot of writers to talk to and plenty of things to say about myself as a writer. I moved to Durham, NC three years ago I don’t know many writers here, and don’t have the opportunity to go to readings, and so my relationship to “others’ works” feels less knowable. It might be a very good change, but I’m not sure yet. I can say that I used to go for writing that was transparent about its writtenness and peculiarity. I’m less attracted to that these days. I’m pretty attracted to Moby Dick.
3.) Why do you write what you do?
In The Possessed, Elif Batuman contrasts creative writing and criticism. She says that criticism has a “collaborative premise” and that “each work of criticism is supposed to build on the body of work, to increase the total sum of human understanding. It’s not like filling your house with more and more beautiful wicker baskets. It’s supposed to be cumulative – it believes in progress.” She goes to to say that in creative writing workshops, “signs of that process are systematically effaced from the finished product.” This is right, I think, and one of the ways in which I believe poetry is radically outpacing fiction, but I take it as a good provocation.
4.) How does your writing process work?
I write very poorly and then I revise for many, many weeks. I’ll show my work to writers like Yuka Igarashi or Anya Yurchyshyn, and when I’m miserable I’ll play on Twitter or go swimming in a pond and try to make use of southern living.
Lauren Spohrer is a writer and public radio producer living in Durham, N.C. Her fiction has been published in NOON, Unsaid, the Mississippi Review, GIGANTIC, and some other places. She’s the founder and editor of Two Serious Ladies, an irregular online magazine to promote writing and art by women. She also makes a true-crime podcast called Criminal.
Annie DeWitt’s writing has appeared in NOON, Guernica, BOMBlog, Esquire’s Napkin Fiction Project, The Believer Logger, art+culture, Everyday Genius, The Faster Times, elimae, and Dossier Magazine, amongst others, and is forthcoming in Tin House and the American Reader edited by Ben Marcus. Her work was recently anthologized in Short: An International Anthology of 500 Years of Short-Short Stories, Prose Poems, Brief Essays, and Other Short Prose Forms, edited by Alan Ziegler. Ann holds a B.A. from Brown University and an M.F.A. in Fiction from Columbia School of the Arts. She was a Founding Editor of Gigantic: A Magazine of Short Prose and Art in 2008. She currently teaches in the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Columbia University. For more of her work, please follow her column at The Believer: http://logger.believermag.com/tagged/various-paradigms
Rae Bryant: Rae Bryant is the author of the short story collection The Infinite State of Imaginary Morals (Patasola Press 2011). Her stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in print and online at The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, McSweeney’s, Huffington Post, New World Writing, Gargoyle Magazine, and elsewhere. Her intermedia has exhibited in NYC, D.C., Baltimore, and Florence Italy. She has won prizes and fellowships from Johns Hopkins, Aspen Writers Foundation, VCCA, and Whidbey Writers and has been nominated for the PEN/HEMINGWAY, Pen Emerging Writers, the &Now Award, and multiple times for the Pushcart Award.
Rosebud Ben-Oni is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists’ Collective, 2013) and a CantoMundo Fellow. Her work appears in The American Poetry Review, Bayou, Arts & Letters, Puerto del Sol, The Feminist Wire, Dialogist, B O D Y, Lana Turner Journal, Slice Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and elsewhere. In 2010, her story “ A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor’s Prize in Camera Obscura. Please read more about Rosebud at rosebudbenoni.com She does good things at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.
Tessa Fontaine graduated from the University of Alabama’s MFA program and joined a traveling circus sideshow. As an instructor for Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project, she taught creative writing and performance in prisons across Alabama. More of her work can be found in Creative Nonfiction, The Normal School, Seneca Review, DIAGRAM, Pank, and more. Stay tuned for more updates from the road
Luke B. Goebel is the author of Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours (FC2 2014). He won the Ronald Sukenick Prize for innovative fiction for the above-mentioned novel. He is a fiction writer and an Assistant Professor. His fictions are forthcoming or have appeared in The American Reader, PANK, The New York Tyrant, Unsaid, Elimae, The Collagist, Greenmountains Review, Gigantic, and elsewhere. He wont the Joan Scott Memorial Fiction Award in 2012.