Kristen’s blog, Little Lodestar, is one of my regular reads. Last week she asked as series of nine provocative questions that I have not been able to stop thinking about. I wanted to share them here, along with my answers, and pose them to all of you at the same time. I’m endlessly fascinated by and hungry for the details of the lives of writers, the sources of their inspiration, and the particular decisions they make on a given day. I am impressed by Kristen’s deliberate effort to call herself a writer as that is something I struggle with myself.
This blog, and the online world I found through it, has brought me many surprises, but one of my most favorite has been how supportive the blogging community is. My interest in Kristen’s questions and in your answers is just a further manifestation of that support and community. I found the comments on Kristen’s post engrossing and look forward to learning more here. Another way this community works is that it was my friend Nina Badzin who originally gave me the idea to share these questions, and my answers, here. She did the same yesterday and I hope you will click over and read her thoughts on the writing life and on Kristen’s questions. Nina and Kristen are both writers for whom I have the utmost esteem and affection, and I am grateful every day to have met them in this online world.
Without further ado, I’m happy to share Kristen’s questions and ask any of you who are willing to answer them here in the comments (or on your blog!).
1. Do you share your work with your partner or spouse? Does it matter if it’s been published yet? (I share with my husband something that I submit elsewhere only AFTER it’s been published, and I am pretty certain he does not read my blog 90% of the time.)
My husband reads my blog most of the time, though I think the attention that it receives varies depending on the day. I show him my published pieces too, though don’t know that he’s really focused on most of them.
2. How much of your family and/or closest “friends in real life first” read your stuff…let alone give you feedback about it? (Comments from my family and friends, either online or in person, are overwhelmingly rare. I’m totally fine with that, but I am curious if this is the norm for others.)
Many of my family members and close friends do not read my blog, though some do. Those who do rarely comment but when people do reach out to me it means a huge amount (enormous thanks to those of you who do this!) My feelings about this topic are complicated. Agree with Nina that it’s a lot to ask that people read. On the other hand, I’m deeply grateful that some people read.
3. What do you do with the pieces that continually get rejected–post on your blog? Trash? When do you know it’s time to let it go?
Sometimes I post on my blog. Sometimes I just let them go. The truth is I don’t submit a whole lot.
4. Are there pieces you write for one very specific place that, once rejected, you just let go of, or do you rework into something else?
The only specific place I really write for is my blog, so I don’t run into that much. Or, if asked specifically (for someone else’s blog or for a magazine or something). I have written a complete memoir and half of another one, both of which I let go of. I wrote about that particular letting-go process a couple of years ago. That was a big one.
5. What is your main source of reading-based inspiration (especially you essayists)? Blogs? Magazines? Journals? Anthologies? Book of essays by one writer?
Blogs, books, and poetry. I read several blogs religiously, many more regularly, and I read fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. I always have a book on my bedside table and read before bed almost every single night. Actually I do read every single night, but now and then it’s a magazine instead of my book!
6. What tends to spark ideas more for you: what you see/hear in daily life or what you read?
That’s such a good question. I would say I draw inspiration from both of those sources; what I see and experience as well as what I read.
7. Who have you read in the past year or two that you feel is completely brilliant but so underappreciated?
Another excellent question. There are many bloggers writing today whose work I think is as good or better than what I read in more traditional channels; I think many are underappreciated. I wish more people read poetry, because as a genre I think it’s wildly underappreciated.
8. Without listing anything written by Dani Shapiro, Anne Lamott, Lee Gutkind, or Natalie Goldberg, what craft books are “must haves”?
I would sincerely love to hear any of your answers to any of these questions. Thank you Kristen for the inspiration!