9 Questions for Writers (Originally Posed by Kristen M. Ploetz)

One thing I love about being a writer among writers is the common struggle we all share no matter where we are on our paths. Like a wonderful chain letter, Lindsey Mead answered the following questions on her beautiful blog A Design So Vast after Kristen M. Ploetz originally posed them on her blog and Nina Badzin answered them on hers. And so, I’m picking up the baton and inviting all you lovely writer friends to answer Kristen's "Nine Things I Wonder About Other Writers" here in the comments or on your own blogs and websites. With gratitude to Kristen, Nina, and Lindsey, here are my answers:

1. Do you share your work with your partner or spouse? Does it matter if it’s been published yet?

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I share with my husband when a piece is complete and submitted. I’m not looking for a close read or critique. In fact, I don’t really want his critique. I have other writer friends who I rely on for that. My purpose is to share an important part of my life and thinking with him. He’s a writer too so he understands. I read his work and critique only if asked.

2. How much of your family and/or closest “friends in real life first” read your stuff…let alone give you feedback about it?

My mother, husband, college-age daughter and a handful of my friends from college, graduate school, yoga and parenting circles regularly read my published essays and comment. I can count on my husband and a few writer friends to always read my blog too but I don’t post that often.

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?

I revise, rethink, remake until a piece is accepted. I’ve got one story that has been “in the drawer” for awhile after rejection but I know I’ll come back to it in some way. The novel I wrote a couple of years ago is “resting” – not sure if that one will ever rise again but it taught me I could complete a novel so it was worth it.

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?

I often write with two or three specific places in mind. So far that’s worked out.

5. What is your main source of reading-based inspiration (especially you essayists)? Blogs? Magazines? Journals? Anthologies? Book of essays by one writer?

It used to be collections like Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard, Maps to Anywhere by Bernard Cooper, Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick, as well as the Lives column in The New York Times and Best American Essays.  Now I read a ton of personal essays online as well in The Rumpus; Full Grown People; Brain, Child; Creative Nonfiction; Cleaver Magazine; NYT Opinionator and Motherlode.

6. What tends to spark ideas more for you: what you see/hear in daily life or what you read?

Daily life but if I get stuck I might turn to the work of others to loosen me up and see new ways forward.

7. Who have you read in the past year or two that you feel is completely brilliant but so underappreciated?

What Happens Next? Matters of Life and Death by Douglas Bauer.  I got to work with Doug at Bennington. Some of the scenes from his novel The Book of Famous Iowans have stuck with me always. Reading this new memoir was amazing. I loved it so much and it helped me think about a structure for my own memoir.

8. Without listing anything written by Dani Shapiro, Anne Lamott, Lee Gutkind, or Natalie Goldberg, what craft books are “must haves”?

Without a doubt Charles Baxter’s Burning Down the House – it’s a must. Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande, What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter.

9. Have you ever regretted having something published? Was it because of the content or the actual writing style/syntax?

I’ve got a new essay coming out about writing about my kids and realizing that knowing who they are today – almost grown up – I would not have written some earlier essays.