I’ve pursued dreams and achieved them, but I don’t think anybody should think their life is incomplete if they don’t follow some dream. Happiness doesn’t come from achievements, or money, or any sort of treasure. Happiness is a frame of mind, not a destination. It’s appreciating what you’ve got and building relationships with those around you.
THE WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR - MELISSA CHADBURN
I tagged Melissa Chadburn to participate in the Blog Tour and I’m hosting her answers here. I first met Melissa at the Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop where, to be honest, she intimidated the hell out of me. She’s a woman on fire, deeply passionate about social justice, animal rescue, and writing that matters. She also has a heart of gold. Whenever I find myself lying flat on my face, she magically appears to help me up. I adore her and admire her strategy and stamina in the literary game. Here she is in her own words…
1. What are you working on?
At this very moment I am in a Holiday Inn express in Phoenix, Arizona drinking really bad instant coffee. I’m writing a piece about airport workers across the country. The invisible people that work under the wings.
So really there’s the story and then there’s the story underneath the story. For airport workers the story is about poverty. It’s also about pride and hard work. It’s a story about miscarriages and pushing heavy carts and no seat belts on tarmacs and getting treated like a tipped worker. So sometimes it’s a story of making less than minimum wage— at some places 2.00 an hour. The story of urine drenched wheelchairs and weeds growing through rusted truck cabs and living in motel rooms and hanging out in convenience stores and super Walmarts and city busses and 120 degree weather and about refugee families kneeling at the graves of their unborn babies.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
Shit I don’t know. I mean in lots of ways, like me, my work aspires. Aspires to achieve some justice off the page. Aspires to accomplish some form of social arsonism, and light hearts and minds on fire.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I am so absolutely interested in finding the truth and then sharing that truth. Of course at times I am guilty of succumbing to the toxic effect of an idea. And then making that idea The World. And when that happens I feel so inclined to act.
Writing is one of my favorite tools in my arsenal. For example this idea that came to me just now: To me, poverty is essentially a failure of the imagination. Failure to devise a solution and for some, (The Haves), a self-deprecation in that it is a failure to realize the repercussions will soon affect you too.
4. How does your writing process work?
There’s a lot of running and reading involved. More than you’d think. I’ve never been more fit than when I grappled with a piece of prose.
Melissa has tagged Antonia Crane, so visit Antonia’s blog on 8/14/14 for insight into her writing process.
Antonia Crane is a writer, adjunct professor and performer in Los Angeles. She teaches Media Writing to students who know more about Tumblr than she does. Her memoir about her mother’s illness and the sex industry “SPENT” is available from Barnacle Books. She’s a columnist for The Rumpus, a contributing editor for The Weeklings, senior editor and founder of The Citron Review, and was a film consultant on Jill Soloway’s Afternoon Delight. As a winner of The Moth, True Stories Told Live, she’ll be competing in the Los Angeles Grand Championship 2014. Her writing can be found in The Heroin Chronicles, Soft Skull Press’ Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chickenhawks: Professionals & Their Clients Writing about Each Other, The New Black, The Rumpus, Dame Magazine, Salon, PANK magazine, Black Clock, The Believer, Frequencies, Slake, The Los Angeles Review and lots other places.
My Writing Process - The Blog Tour
A tremendous thank you to Rebecca Meacham (no relation although in truth there probably is because in the late 1800’s my relatives dropped the extra “a” from our last name) for tagging me to participate in the MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR. I think Rebecca and I “met” on Twitter but I was first introduced to her sharp writing on the Ploughshares blog.
I’m not sure by whom, where or how The Writing Process Blog Tour started but it’s a clever way to catch a glimpse of the writer behind the curtain so here goes.
1. What are you working on?
Once upon a time.
Me, my husband, and our daughters moved to a small, charming town in Connecticut. All trees and stonewalls and church steeples and old houses. I’d never lived in a place like that before. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to make it work.
Or, I convinced myself I did.
"Spaces survive the passage of time in the same way a person survives his death: in the close alliance between the memory and the imagination that others forge around it. They exist as long as we keep thinking of them, imagining in them; as long as we remember them, remember ourselves there, and, above all, as long as we remember what we imagined in them. A relingo—an emptiness, an absence—is a sort of depository for possibilities, a place that can be seized by the imagination and inhabited by our phantom-follies. Cities need those vacant lots, those silent gaps where the mind can wander freely."
- From “Relingos” by Varleria Luiselli, tr. Christina MacSweeney in The Brooklyn Quarterly
"However, there is nothing wrong with envy, maintained the philosopher. What matters is how we handle it. Greatness comes from being able to learn from our envious crises. Nietzsche thought of envy as a confused but important signal from our deeper selves about what we really want. Everything that makes us envious is a fragment of our true potential, which we disown at our peril. We should learn to study our envy forensically, keeping a diary of envious moments, and then sift through episodes to discern the shape of a future, better self."
- The Great Philosophers 4: Nietzsche
I cannot recommend this travel narrative about the American South enough. Read it. You must read it.
I encountered it first online and then drove to a bookstore to pick up a physical copy of the issue of Smithsonian Magazine. It’s Paul Theroux at the top of his game: a gorgeously written piece chronicling an important story about the underbelly of poverty in the South. And it’s a critical companion to one of my other favorite reads of late: this piece on reparations in The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
If Theroux’s piece doesn’t prove Coates’ premise right, then I don’t know what does.
But it was a particular section of the essay that caught my attention,
You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.