Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kim Addonizio "Borrows" from Real Life

In the 43rd in a series of posts on 2014 books entered for The Story Prize, Kim Addonizio, author of The Palace of Illusions (Soft Skull Press), discusses her writing habits.

If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing?
I think if I weren’t a writer, I might cease to exist, or anyway shrink down to a single-celled organism like a slime mold. Though the other thing I’m involved with is music. Without writing to obsess me I might have more time to practice. I’d be a world-class harmonica-playing slime mold.

Describe an unusual writing habit of yours.
Sometimes I’ll literally turn my face away from the keyboard as I type, trying to access my unconscious a little more. Like if I don’t look, I can fool it into coming out of its cave.

Do you ever borrow characters or situations from real life, and has anyone ever confronted you about it, been angry or pleased? 
I borrow—it’s more like steal—things all the time. Then I use them for my own purposes. I worry about it, but I do it anyway, and try to explain to the people I care about that this is how writers work, using the stuff of the world and filtering it through our imaginations. 

What's the worst idea for a story you've every had?
Any time I start with an idea for a story it’s pretty bad. I like to just find my way in and then see where I am.

Where do you do most of your work?
In bed, where I feel far from the world and thus able to engage in the aberrant act of writing. Sometimes, for variety, I move to the couch. I haven’t worked at a desk for a couple of years now.

What do you do when you're stuck or have "writer's block"?
Freak out, mostly. It’s like being an athlete with a broken leg and worrying it will never heal. Then I remember I’ve been there before, and try to trust that it will come back.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Do the work. Understand that it’s a very long road. Strive to be a good writer rather than a published one.

What else (beyond books and writing) informs or inspires your work?
Every creative and/or fucked up act by other human beings. Mortality. The need for love. And beauty in any form.