5 Burning Questions With Tyler Mendelsohn

  1. What’s the easiest thing about writing?

The easiest thing about writing is what to do after you’ve found the right words.

If you live in an older house, usually the right words are buried inside the walls. You’ll have to go spelunking inside your walls for them. If your living space is modernized, words are more likely to live inside electronic devices. You’ll have to press your mind against each device and slurp the words out, as though your brain were your mouth and each device a water fountain. A word-er fountain.

Once you find the words, just sprinkle a bunch of ‘em onto the page in an inventive way that clearly articulates complex thoughts. After that, you’ll basically be unable to do anything without getting hit in the face with a literary award. The awards will pile onto your face and obscure your vision. This will make it harder and harder for you to even LOOK for the right words, let alone to find them.

But no matter, you’ll be RICH; you’ll be able to buy new words

  1. What are you doing when you’re not writing?

Working through my daily to-do list of subjective, threatening tasks like “learn something new (OR ELSE)”.

  1. Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using no adjectives.

Writing can be a verb and a noun. That might be why it appeals to so many of us.

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poverty/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?

I can play with any combination of the myriad things I experience, observe and think every day. The act of writing often teaches me something about my worldview. And, when I read other peoples’ writing—no matter the genre—it feels like insider access to another person’s brain.

  1. Have you ever done something unusual for the sake of your writing? What was it and how did it work out?

I haven’t necessarily done something unusual for the sake of my writing. But, while something unusual is happening to me, I’m often already framing it into a story. And the way I see it, most things are unusual.

And a bonus question because 6 Burning Questions just doesn’t have the same ring to it. 

When asked “What do you do?” do you talk about your writing?

Like with writing, my answer depends on my intended (or actual) audience.

I think many writers find it’s uncomfortable to self-identify as a writer. People will often ask you follow-up questions like, “What do you write about?” And then you have to quickly “brand” yourself: ‘I’m the one who writes about angry cats; go to my website.’

But sometimes, it’s great. You and your intended audience laugh, cry, sing and hold hands in a circle of togetherness for the rest of time.

So, it depends.

To learn more about Tyler Mendelsohn, come to our next Writers & Words on March 8.

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