Thanks to Anna B. Sutton, writer & co-founder of Porch Writers’ Collective, for inviting me to be part of her blog tour. Anna was born in Nashville and received her BFA from the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN and her MFA in Creative Writing & Poetry at the University of North Carolina. Check out her beautiful website at www.annabsutton.com .
Everyone on the tour is answering the same questions:
1. What are you working on?
A series of essays on hot issues for women in which I use scenes from my past life to highlight the urgency. Check out my essay about weddings and the tyranny of the wedding industry, “The Unveiling of a Lesbian in Love” at www.EquallyWed.com. Others are about ISIS taking over parts of Iraq and the media ignoring covered women, a visit to the Blue Mosque just before Taksim Square, abortion, names, and one about fashion freedom and a pair of jeans.
No, what am I really working on? Making sure the lessons of my past make every new situation I see or find myself in absolutely glow, in this glorious world of freedom.
2. How does your work differ from other work in your genre?
Genre? Show me a genre! Others have written about leaving fundamentalism. Is that my genre? But no one I’ve found puts that experience into a broader context to highlight the urgency and frailty of our freedoms. Or takes it from there to solidarity with covered women across all religions. Or connects that experience to being an immigrant and explores those voices to show who “we” truly are.
3. Why do you write what you do?
Someone once asked Robert Rauschenberg when he was going to stop making art. The artist had worked steadily through illness and far into old age, never slowed. He looked startled, then tilted his head as if he had to translate. His response sounded like someone guessing at a correct answer to an illogical question. “When I stop breathing?”
Why do I write? Writing is how I understand the world and I am compelled to try to understand, sometimes by creating other worlds filled with characters that don’t. Writing is how I breathe.
Why do I write what I do? What else could I possibly imagine writing?
4. How does your writing process work?
For fiction, I listen for the quietest voices saying the oddest of things, in me and in the world, and consider those to be the loudest. I put the voices into characters and set them on the page, then I close my eyes and become them. After that, I don’t write—I simply move and see and think and feel through my fingers on the keyboard.
For personal essays, I listen for the quietest oddest voices inside the me of today, but I also have to become the me of long ago. The two share and converse.
Writing, I am female, male, straight, gay, young, old. I am myself and others, past and present—I live them, breathe them, feel them. Even when they don’t know themselves, I have to know what they want and want what they want until their desire/need drives their every move, word, thought on the page.
Then it’s easy.
Next week, same day same time, check out these great authors:
Cami Ostman is the author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents and co-editor of Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion. She lives and writes in Washington State. http://www.7marathons7continents.com
Angélique Jamail‘s poetry and essays have appeared in over two dozen anthologies and journals, and she is the author of FINIS. Find her online at www.SapphosTorque.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @AngeliqueJamail.
Nishta Mehra likes bourbon, Tex-Mex, cooking, reading, and playing dinosaurs with her two-year-old son, Shiv. She is the author of The Pomegranate King, a collection of essays, and lives, writes, and teaches in Houston, Texas. Check out her great website at www.bluejeangourmet.com .