Author Photo: Terese Svoboda © Joyce George
Ten Breaths of Inspiration for the Writing Life
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CORINNA BARSAN
“She will, of course, be compared to Willa Cather—and deservedly so,” writes Kurt Andersen of her most recent novel, Bohemian Girl. A “fabulous fabulist” according to Publishers Weekly, Vogue lauded her first novel, Cannibal, as a female Heart of Darkness. “Astounding!” wrote the New York Post about her memoir Black Glasses Like Clark Kent. Her fifth novel, Pirate Talk or Mermalade (2010), is “a strange and nastily beautiful book,”—The Millions. Svoboda has taught at Columbia’s School of the Arts, Bennington, New School, Davidson, Sarah Lawrence, Williams and elsewhere.
Author website: www.teresesvoboda.com
The Magazine of Yoga On The Lit Mat Interview
Who or what was your greatest influence in picking up the pen?
The roadster. Who knew what Nancy Drew could make me do? We roared our vehicle through dozens of books, until she drove her excitement with word and mystery into me. My uncle, an English professor, published poetry, which meant I had some reality to tie my Drew fantasy to.
In what ways do you make room for the creative process in your
Do it, do it, do it. Anybody can go to the grocery store.
Which one word, image, sound, feeling, or memory defines the act of writing for you?
The ancient clamor of an IBM selectric while its cryptically-encoded ball that snapped letters onto the page, its impatient hum awaiting the writer’s next thought—almost a dream now, given its vanishing.
Where do you find inspiration when the well runs dry?
Free-write—really free-write, no crossing your T’s, dotting I’s—as fast as you can for ten minutes without stopping totally eliminates the terror of the blank page. Can you talk? You can write. Edit later.
Is there a tidbit of writing advice that has stayed with you over the years?
Seeing me with a baby in a snuggly, Grace Paley told me the key to a long writing career is low rent.
What is something you know now about writing that you didn’t know when you were just starting out?
At the beginning it was all play. Now it’s work. Both are satisfying.
Whether you do yoga or another form of physical or spiritual practice, how does it affect your work?
Does going to the fridge count? Any time I leave my desk, I find refreshment. Lingering makes the refreshment go stale.
What is your most favorite guilty pleasure?
Counting pages. It means nothing, it means everything.
If you had to pick one book to recommend as a must-read,
which would it be?
If on a Winters Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino. He shows you every avenue possible for the reader to follow. This is not to say that Lydia Millet’s Everyone’s Pretty isn’t absolute fun.
What is on your nightstand now?
John Sayles’ 1,000 page A Moment in the Sun. Maybe I should say it is holding the nightstand up. He said he liked Bohemian Girl so I’m reciprocating, with pleasure. It’s an epic, a real masterpiece. The Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo Sacheri (okay,okay—it won an Oscar as a movie) all about suppressed love and murder, and Lydia Millet’s brand new Ghost Lights that starts: The walls were kittens and puppies.
The pause that refreshes! You can find Corinna Barsan’s musings and discoveries on her blog at Shiny White Page.
We may publish any content, comments or ideas sent to us.
Name may be withheld by request.
© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.