What is a current project you are working on?
I’m working on a huge sprawling mess of a book about racial and socioeconomic
inequality in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
What is the one piece of writing advice, good or even bad, that you have received that has impacted you the most?
I was really helped by the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Basically, it
recommends a kind of “filling your tank,” and taking care of your creativity to get the
juices flowing to write.
What are some of the greatest influences upon your writing, whether other
writers or outside influences?
I am really influenced by George Orwell, Maxine Hong Kingston, and John McPhee. I
think I’m influenced by everything I’ve read.
Do you have a favorite place to write, or are there any habits, inspirations, or
rituals that help you?
I try to write for an hour a day in the morning (weekdays only), but I put no
conditions on that. So I can have a good writing day or a really slow one where I only
write a few sentences, but as long as I try, I’m doing my job and I don’t worry about
How do you find inspiration for your work, particularly this piece?
I have been thinking a lot about voice, and the various voices that run through my
head. So I try to catch them as they flit by, and this one was just watching my internal
monologue as I sat there meditating. I try to put on the page things I’m embarrassed to
say, things that catch me in the act of being a human.
You mention in “I am Showing Up for the Apocalypse” that there is no good
meditating, but did you find writing the piece meditational? Did the title come to
you first or did you find it within the piece?
This is a larger issue, but I’ll say that all meditating is good meditating. What I meant
was that there’s no “getting an A for being perfect in meditation,” and that even when
my head is like this essay, it’s fine. Sometimes meditators talk about not striving for a
particular state of mind but just observing. So I guess it was very helpful to write this
essay as a way to observe what was going on in my mind without judgment. I have a
hard time coming up with titles for things, so I’m glad to have found it in the piece
itself—that’s my favorite technique.