- The high school classroom is standard issue. I’ve grown up in this mill town, but it’s really dying now. None of the students around me in this creative writing class have aspirations to become a writer. They want to go to college and get a job that they won’t get laid off from. My teacher Mr. Moore tells me: it doesn’t matter where you go to school. Anywhere you go, you’ll find great professors to work with. He says, yes, I think you have what it takes to become a writer.
- I’m in a standard issue professor’s office for my mid-semester conference in fiction 101. It’s probably the first workshop I’ve ever taken in my life. The professor looks up at me, squints, and says: The problem with you is that at some point in your life someone told you you were creative.
- I’m 23 years old and about to get into my boyfriend’s puke green Chevy. It’s parked in my parents’ driveway. We’ve stopped to visit them as we head west after I’ve graduated from the University of New Hampshire. We’ll travel across the country for months without any real destination, although we end up in San Francisco for 4 years. My parents don’t understand what in the hell I’m doing, although they wouldn’t say it that way. My dad tells me: always make sure you’re making enough money per month so that one week goes to rent, one goes to utilities and bills, one goes to savings, and one is for spending money. I follow this advice for years and in many ways it’s how I am able to write and work and live and be happy in many different places.
- My friend Pam on many different occasions: If you’re not having fun, leave.
- I’ve just met my roommate Mallory Tarses at Sewanee Writers’ Conference and by dinner time everyone thinks we’ve been friends forever. I write flash fiction, have been writing it for many years. Everyone tells me I need to write a novel. Everyone. Mallory says, or why not just get really, really good at writing flash fiction?
- At that same conference Tim O’Brien says: Don’t forget to look around while you’re in there writing the story, take the time to look around.
- My friend Jonah Winter: Knock it off.
- I’m four years out of graduate school and living in Pittsburgh with a real job working in museum education. It’s 40+ hours a week and stressful. I feel lost so I email my mentor Marly Swick (See #1) and tell her I’m ungrounded and out of touch with any kind of national writing community. She says, “Why don’t you apply to some writing residencies? I think it’s time for you to do that.”
- I’m at Atlantic Center for the Arts studying with Jim Crace and a great group of fiction writers. Armadillos rustle through the grasses below the boardwalks. Jim Crace says: “Slow down. Look at each sentence. Craft each sentence. Vary the length. Think about word choice. Avoid repeated words. Use active verbs. You already do this instinctually, now I want you to do it deliberately.”
- Pam Painter: Start with a list. A list is never intimidating.
- I’m running the Gist Street Reading Series in Pittsburgh. The writer John Dalton gets up to read from his debut novel Heaven Lake. He finishes and immediately sells out of books. Later he tells me: Summarize the novel in your introduction and then read a strong section that doesn’t logically follow from the summary. People buy books because they want to find out how the two connect.
- There’s a big round table and 21 of us sit around it. The Creative Capital retreat is like a boot camp in professionalism for artists. They tell us: Always introduce yourself using your first and last name. They tell us: Have a 1-year plan and a 5-year plan. They tell us: If you’re not being rejected, you’re not working hard enough.
Today we are pleased to share news about past contributor Sherrie Flick. Sherrie’s essay “Contagious Empathy” has been recently featured in Creative Nonfiction’s Fall Science and Religion Issue. The essay can be read on their website here. Purchase Creative Nonfiction’s Issue 65 by clicking here.
To read “Not Talking About Sage” by Sherrie in Issue 10 of Superstition Review click here.
Today we are pleased to feature authors Sheila Squillante and Sherrie Flick as our Authors Talk series contributors. Sheila and Sherrie were brought together by Superstition Review after they were both published in Issue 10.
In this podcast, the duo starts with reading portions of their essays before discussing their story and the importance of literary friendship. Their conversation is filled with charisma, laughter, and camaraderie as they discuss the heartening feeling of knowing that you’re part of a larger world. As Sheila tells Sherrie, “Every time I talk to you, I feel like this greater sense of possibility…because I’m not just one writer, one worker, one teacher in my little cube staring at the screen…I’m reminded that there’s this larger network.”
Sherrie parts with one last piece of advice: “Remember to be kind and you never know what’s going to happen.” Before they sign off, Sheila chimes in, “Make friends!”