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5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH RACHEL COONCE

  1. What’s your least favorite thing about writing?

Everything leading up to the writing: the hemming, the hawing, the agonizing, the doing-anything-but-writing-before-writing, the existential crisis before every new piece. But once I am actually writing – crafting words around the inexpressible – it’s the most satisfying experience of my life.

  1. Which author would you like to have a drink with (Dead or alive. Them, not you).

I would love to have a drink with Dostoevsky! If the characters in the Brothers Karamozov have anything to say about it, it would be both great conversation and a raucous good time!

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

William Faulkner – His southern characters, rich scenery, and deep glimpses into the human experience… it’s everything I aspire to.

Vijay Seshadri – Amazing poet, amazing teacher, and great conversationalist: I just love his loooooooong pauses that somehow inspire people to stay quiet.

  1. What about your discipline (fiction, poetry, etc) do you wish you were better at?

I wish I were better at forcing myself to write even when I don’t want to write. I think there are two kinds of writers out there (and maybe other kinds of writers that don’t fit into these categories at all!): there is the writer who produces a lot of material, and then edits on the page, and there is the writer who edits in her head, and eeks out one perfect sentence at a time. I am the latter, and I am so envious of the former.

  1. What kind of creative rituals or patterns do you have?

Because I write in fits and spurts, I’m not sure I have any specific patterns. I like to write in my journal before actually writing, because it clears my head of all the daily sludge. I drink cups and cups of tea when working on any big project, because the five minutes it takes to make it provides me with just enough of a break to be rejuvenated, but not long enough to lose my momentum. Long walks before writing or in the middle of a project does wonders for getting past a stuck place – which always pleases my pup very much.

Bonus question: favorite Halloween costume? Either that you’ve ever seen or ever worn.

I went as Mia from Pulp Fiction, and was apparently unrecognizable. We had the whole crew: Vincent Vega, Jewels, and Marcellus Wallace (ball gag and all).

 

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Thank you so much for reading with us, Rachel.

Last Tuesday, Rachel read at Writers & Words. This Tuesday, her own reading series, Innerloop, will be celebrating the launch of The Inner Loop Radio on iTunes.  Head out to the Colony Club on Tuesday, October 17th at 7:30 and check it out!

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5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH TOM MCALLISTER

  1. What’s your least favorite thing about writing?

The occasional (or maybe frequent) moments when you spend all day wrestling with some problem like how to move a character across the street, and then you think: wait, this shit is pointless. Nobody cares. That can be disheartening.

  1. Which author would you like to have a drink with (Dead or alive. Them, not you).

I’m not sure why, but my first thought on this was Martin Amis. It’s not lik ehe’s one of my literary heroes, and I feel like we might get in a fight by the end of the night. But i bet he’d have some great stories. Plus, he must have access to high-quality booze.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Percival Everett is so good and so smart and Erasure is the kind of book I could never even dream of being good enough to write.

Because of the work I do with Barrelhouse, I’ve been able to become friendly with Stewart O’Nan, who is a really good writer, but also is a model for how a big, fancy writer should conduct himself in the world. He’s so generous with his time and humble. And he’s great company at a baseball game.

  1. What about your discipline (fiction, poetry, etc) do you wish you were better at?

I’m terrible about planning ahead, which means the plots in my early drafts are scattered and messy. Actually, more often than not, the plots in my early drafts barely exist, and then I have spent a ton of time trying to work some energy and movement into the story. I do compile a lot of notes before working on a novel, but then I start writing and half of them end up in the trash anyway.

  1. What kind of creative rituals or patterns do you have?

I don’t have many rituals, or at least not effective ones. I try to wake up early every day, whether I’m working or not, and get at least a couple hours of writing in before I log on to social media and fill my head with dozens of terrible stories about the world. Before I waste my day being angry at people I’ve never met. On days when I stick to this system, I can be very productive – 4000 or more pretty okay words in a morning. A lot of days, it’s much worse than that. Then my ritual is mostly about the cycle of guilt and self-flagellation and vows to be better the next day.

Bonus question: favorite Halloween costume? Either that you’ve ever seen or ever worn.

I was a bad Halloween participant, because I was one of those annoying surly teenagers who just put on an Eagles jersey and said I was dressed as a football player. But when I was younger, I dressed as Destro from G.I. Joe four years in a row. I wrote a little about that in this essay.

My true favorite Halloween costume probably is the one designed by my father-in-law, who was an enormous, gentle man who loved Halloween more than anyone I’ve ever known. It’s sort of hard to describe. It’s like a mixture of a goblin and a member of Jem’s backing band. He put so much effort into it, and every Halloween he had to explain exactly what it was supposed to be. Mostly, he loved how shiny and purple it was. I don’t know. Here’s a picture.

Tom's father-in-law .png

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Thank you so much for sharing this picture, Tom. A true Halloween champion and inspiration.

Come out Tuesday, October 10th and hear Tom and our other readers at Writer & Words! 7pm, Charmingtons. It might be a spooky good time. Or just an ordinary good time. I guess you’ll just have to come out and see for yourself.

Ink and Words: Writers & Words and Ink Press Productions Present “The Woods”

Hello Friends of Writers & Words,

Last night was yet another fantastic reading – thank you, everyone, who came out to Writers & Words! Charmington’s was full of stories about childhood drama, poetry with true heart, an epic Science Fiction excerpt and an expertly performed two person play: it was a night for the books (pun intended). We would be nothing without you, our friends, supporters, and readers.

Back in March, we had an opportunity to get to know a bunch of you better at our first-ever writing retreat. The long weekend was more successful than we ever dreamed, and from the moment it was over we were itching to do it again. So, lucky you, we are.

We’ve brought on the wonderful poets and artists from Ink Press Productions to co-run our second retreat, Ink and Words: Writers & Words and Ink Press Productions Present “The Woods.” We are excited to partner with Ink Press Production and bring you, even more, ways to cultivate your best writing self. Sounds almost too good to be true, right? I promise this email is not a dream: here are the details.  

The retreat will run from December 7 – December 10 at Cacapan State Park, West Virginia and include:

  • A long weekend of writing and meeting other writers.
  • A shared, communal cabin
  • Optional activities per day to get your blood pumping and your artistic juices flowing
  • Heat and electricity, comfort, no internet
  • Copious fireplace usage
  • Games of the literary kind
  • Optional workshops and activities
  • Camaraderie

The cost for 3 nights and 3 days is:

  • $175 for shared room
  • $225 for single room

Cost includes (vegetarian) meals, some booze, swag and valuable writer time with access to editors and friends.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: September 30, 2017. Click here to apply today!

If you have any questions send them our way! Thank you again for your continued support, and we hope to see you in The Woods.

 

Inkpress Productions & Writers & Words

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5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH ALEX HACKER

  1. What is your first memory of writing for fun?    

In high school I filled countless notebooks with poetry to kill time whenever I was bored—on the bus, at school, during downtime at work where I loaded groceries into suburban station wagons—immortalizing my friends, enemies, and crushes in laughably horrible rhyming verse that I dashed off with an ease and agility that I now find almost impossible to fathom.

  1. How many drafts = done?

I endlessly revise as I am writing so that a first draft has typically been through a long series of mutations before I have reached a provisional ending. After that it depends on the circumstances. Working in the theater on a strict deadline has meant that I am often in rehearsal before I am satisfied with whatever draft I am on, and oftentimes seeing what actors do with their lines is a huge and welcome influence on the final result.

  1. What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?

For some reason I pulled Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure off the shelf yesterday on my way to get my driver’s license renewed, and it proved a perfect escape from the bureaucratic torments of the MVA. I also just finished three small gemlike books by Fleur Jaeggy, whose strange, often morbid turns of thought are beautifully rendered in sentences that repeatedly astonish. A totally unique voice.

  1. What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?

Dreaming about actually acquiring discipline, which is something that eternally eludes me.

  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

The ones that send me to the dictionary because I realize I only think I know them or I want to know them better. Appeal, for instance, I just discovered comes from the Latin appellare which can mean to address, to accost, to name (an appellation), among other things all involving words and speaking, and which broken down literally means to strike at, from pellere, to beat or knock or push or set in motion, which gives a physical reality and action to the use of words and the naming of things that I find very appealing.

Bonus question: The apocalypse starts tomorrow – what are the first three steps to ensure your survival? 

I’m not sure I want to survive the apocalypse, so I’ll probably just write about it until it kills me in the hope that whatever I write will survive in my place.

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Good call on the apocalypse, Alex.

Come out TONIGHT, Tuesday, September 12th and hear Alex and our other readers at Writer & Words! 7pm, Charmingtons, don’t miss it!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH WALLACE LANE

  1. What is your first memory of writing for fun?    

I’m not your traditional poet. I didn’t start off writing love poems to or about ex girlfriends. In my most recent podcast interview I explained how my earliest attempts at writing, which was in middle school, consisted of me scribbling rap lyrics in composition notebooks. Back in the early 2000’s we called them “rhyme books”. I admired rappers like Nas for that storytelling flow and made it my business to imitate that style each time I wrote a bar. That was when I was most happy with writing: writing raps, telling a story while rapping and staying on beat while reciting what I wrote. Eventually, I accepted that I wasn’t that good at it, but I took that same passion and put it into writing poetry.

  1. How many drafts = done?

DRAFT! DRAFT! DRAFT! I didn’t learn to appreciate the concept of drafting until my time at UB. Before I would write a poem and boost on how I thought I composed “the realest shit I ever wrote”. But man oh man, the workshop has a way of humbling that. I think you need at least 3 good drafts before you consider yourself done.

  1. What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?

Favorite book of all time, hands down is Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Favorite Book of the moment is Not Without Our Laughter by The Black Ladies Brunch Collective.

  1. What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?

I think I’m most excited with my discipline when I’m comfortable with the fact that I wont always “get it” on the first attempt. There’s something valuable in coming back to what you previously started. So for me, starting a new poem is what motivates me but finishing it is what pushes and disciplines me. And by finishing it, I mean bringing new concepts, ideas, sounds, different styles and vernacular to what I started. One thing I admire most about my discipline is that I’m constantly reading. Constantly dissecting other writer’s work. Most times I read before I write.

  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

I love all Baltimore Slang words. Words like “lor” which evolved from “lil” which really means “little”. “Ard” is another one of my favorites, because it means is much more easier to say than “alright”. Oh and can’t forget about “dummy” which is a term of endearment used amongst black men in Baltimore City when greeting other black men. Example: “yooo what’s up dummy?” or “ard dummy” or “love you dummy”.

Come out TOMORROW, Tuesday, September 12th to hear Wallace and our other fantastic readers at Writer & Words! 7pm, Charmingtons, be there or be something else. Just be there.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH ADITYA DESAI

  1. What’s your least favorite thing about writing?

Short Answer: Titles. Not good at ’em.

Long Answer: Going back in. Which is weird because once I’m in, revisions are the best – it’s like being on a train. The track is there, you just have to chug along. But getting that engine going again, after all the coal has cooled and hardened, after you’ve taken a halt at the platform, working through a second cuppa, that’s hard. [END LABORED METAPHOR]

  1. Which author would you like to have a drink with (Dead or alive. Them, not you).

#3 if I’m being honest, but to avoid redundancy I’ll give a cop-out answer: I would have loved to have met one of my granduncles, who wrote a book chronicling the history of the little corner of India my family comes from. What’s more, it’s not written in our native Gujarati, but in Persian, a language I’ve been trying to teach myself off/on for years. I hope someday I’ll be able to read it, but I think it would be pretty cool just to chat with someone who I share both passions & genes with.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Answer for both, I don’t know him personally but I met him once in a personal setting: Junot Diaz, because a) I think Oscar Wao is the book of our times and b) I still have a chip on my shoulder from that time he told me to give up and proceeded to rip into the current writer industrial complex (It’s my one & only cool writer story. You should totally ask me about it. It’s not I tell everyone I meet to seem more interesting than I am. No really. Pretty please? )

  1. What about your discipline (fiction, poetry, etc) do you wish you were better at?

One the one hand, conciseness – I suffer a compulsive need to use numerous multisyllabic words as feasibly possible in a given sentence, not to mention tacking on additional clauses.

On the other hand, expansion – I stubbornly like to stick to the A-story, and envy those Proustian writers who can use any plot moment to open up new streams of thought, then snap back.

  1. What did you enjoy the most about the Writers & Woods writing retreat this year?

It’s an obvious answer, but just meeting everyone. I grew up Baltimore, but had been living in DC for basically since college. Now that I’ve recently moved back, it was a great crash-course intro to the variety of voices and personalities that we have in the city. Look forward to getting to know people’s writing – and people themselves – as time goes on.

Bonus question: Desert Island Disks: you’re stranded on a desert island, all you can take is one item of clothing (which is all you’d ever get to wear), one condiment (which is all you’d be able to eat beyond what you found on the island), and one issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine (look it up): what, of each would you take?

Clothing: What they call a lungi, or a sarong. All you need is the one piece of cloth. I already hate doing laundry as it is.

Condiment: Does chili powder count? I feel like you can get max use out of it on an island – sprinkle it on some fruit for a kick, or mix it into water or something if you need something saucy. And I mean, if at some point you succumb to eating rodents or maggots or something, blasting your tongue on fire is a great distraction from the rest of it.

MSL: Oh, fuck if I know. Did Snoop Dogg guest edit an issue? I imagine he knows how to pass time on an island.

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I will totally ask you about Junot Diaz.

If you didn’t hear, all of our wonderful August readers attended our very first writing retreat back in March, and we are excited to announce that we are doing on again in December! Click here to check out the details, and apply if you’re interested. Come out TONIGHT, Tuesday, August 8th at 7 pm to hear more about the retreat, hear our readers share their words, and of course indulge in some summery treats at Charmingtons.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH NATALIE KO

  1. What’s your least favorite thing about writing?

Doesn’t everyone say writer’s block? Writer’s Block. Or the moment when your stomach collapses in on itself because you’ve been writing for twelve hours straight without blinking. Actually, I love that part of writing. So yeah, writer’s block.

  1. Which author would you like to have a drink with (Dead or alive. Them, not you).

Euripides.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Favorite authors that I don’t know personally: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Haruki Murakami, and Roald Dahl. Favorite authors that I do know personally: the neighborhood kids who play outside my window and have more gruesome, eleventh-hour plot twists in their stories than Game of Thrones.

  1. What about your discipline (fiction, poetry, etc) do you wish you were better at?

 I wish I were better at transforming commas into periods, and I wish I were better at finishing stories. I want neither sentences nor stories to ever end.

  1. What did you enjoy the most about the Writers & Woods writing retreat this year?

Oh, the luxurious Hot Springs for sure. (Just kidding.) The people, the fire, the boxed wine, the ah hoc poetry reading. The relaxed, supportive atmosphere as a whole.

Bonus question: Desert Island Disks: you’re stranded on a desert island, all you can take is one item of clothing (which is all you’d ever get to wear), one condiment (which is all you’d be able to eat beyond what you found on the island), and one issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine (look it up): what, of each would you take?

One item of clothing: tactical jumpsuit. One condiment: Cholula hot sauce. One issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine: October 2009 The Magic of Fall.

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Thank you, Natalie! We enjoyed the boxed wine too.

All of our wonderful August readers attended our very first writing retreat back in March, and we are excited to announce that we are doing on again in December! Click here to check out the details, and apply if you’re interested. Come out next week, Tuesday, August 8th at 7 pm to hear more about the retreat, hear Natalie and our other readers share their words, and of course indulge in some summery treats at Charmingtons.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH DAVID OLIMPIO

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

If I start sweating, then I know I’m doing it right.

  1. How often do you get new ideas? A thousand a second, or every 12 years when the moon is full and the stars align?

I get ideas all the time. A great many of them I never execute on because I’ll be in no situation or condition to write them down. For this reason, I will forget many ideas. But I’m not sure if that’s totally true. (The forgetting.) It’s possible that when I “forget” an idea it’s because it was not ready to come out, yet. And so I just have to wait until it does come out as something else later on.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Favorite author I don’t know personally: Martin Amis (I don’t know him, but I did speak to him in a Barnes and Noble once)

 Favorite author I do know: Sara Lippmann

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

London Fields. It reminds me of the end game—what I want prose to sound like.

  1. What kind or creative rituals or patterns do you have?

My healthy ritual is music. I need loud music to clear out self doubt.

My unhealthy ritual is alcohol. It serves the same function as music, but it’s more foolproof.

Bonus question: If the last thought you had last night before falling asleep was an animal, what would it be?

A rabbit. A frightened rabbit.  

(Also the name of my favorite band.)

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I like that idea about ideas. I’ll have to remember that. Or rather wait and see if it’s worthy of being remembered (I suspect it is).  Here’s something worth remembering: Writers & Words is tomorrow, July 11th at Charmingtons!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH MEGHAN PHILLIPS

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

Getting to dig into the “what if?” of all the weird ideas I get.

  1. How often do you get new ideas? A thousand a second, or every 12 years when the moon is full and the stars align?

I get ideas a lot. I’ve worked in an archive for the last two years, and a lot of times when I’m processing a collection or doing research for a patron I’ll see something that feels like a story. The problem is, I get ideas, but then I have to let them hang out in my brain for a while. Sometimes it’ll be over a year before I can find a way into an idea.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

This is an impossible question to answer with only one name. My favorite authors that I don’t know personally are Margaret Atwood, Sarah Waters, Kelly Link, Laura van den Berg, Amber Sparks, and Kevin Wilson. I’m lucky to know so many talented writers through the magic of the Internet, and they are all my favorite, but writers that I have a deeper relationship with than trading GIFs on Twitter are Amy Rossi, Laura Citino, Tyler Barton, Erin Dorney, and Matthew Kabik.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster. I find this book really comforting. It’s weird and a little disturbing and it’s got great pictures. Plus, my copy was my godmother’s, and it has her notes and doodles in it from when she was in the 6th grade.

  1. What kind or creative rituals or patterns do you have?

Um. I do almost all my drafting longhand. I like to make playlists of songs that feel like what I’m writing.

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Come out and hear Meghan read at Writers & Words, July 11th at Charmingtons!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH DORA MALECH

  1. What’s your favorite thing about writing?

My favorite thing about writing is its capacity to defy my intentions and take me somewhere unexpected.

  1. How often do you get new ideas? A thousand a second, or every 12 years when the moon is full and the stars align?

I rarely get ideas at all, but I gather input (words, sound associations, images, and juxtapositions) all the time. When I play around with those raw materials, sometimes their friction sparks an idea.

  1. Who is your favorite author that you don’t know personally? Who is your favorite author that you do know personally?

Favorite author(s) I don’t know personally: Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood.

Favorite author I do know personally: Denis Johnson, who just passed away. I didn’t know him well, but I feel lucky to have met him.

  1. What is your most re-read book, if any, and why?

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, because her words are endlessly electric and resonant and mysterious.

  1. What kind or creative rituals or patterns do you have?

I think following “phonic echoes” (rhyme, word play, etcetera) is its own creative ritual and pattern, and it’s the one I use the most.

Bonus question: If the last thought you had last night before falling asleep was an animal, what would it be?

A little noisy monkey.

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Now that the 4th is over, get ready for the next exciting thing – Writers & Words, July 11th at Charmingtons! Yes, Writers & Words is as exciting as fireworks. You don’t need to believe me, come out on Tuesday and see for yourself.