I want to thank Lauren for answering my questions. Learn more about her here!
What was the first story you remember writing about?
The first story I remember writing was in third grade. It was called “The Candy Man,” and it was about candy, which has always been a strong influence on my life. It is still my sister’s favorite story of mine.
The first story I remember writing as an adult might have been about candy, too. Honestly, I just dabbled until somehow I didn’t, which was in 2008, so I find snippets of things. Oh, I wrote this thing before then, in maybe 2006, when I was mad at some guy and drank a bottle of wine and wrote something about a girl who always spills stuff on her white clothes – pretty much a pathetic, really bad story. Then I sent it to the only journal I knew – McSweeney’s – and passed out. Ten months later, I received a form rejection and almost died. I responded to the form rejection with an apology and didn’t write again for a while.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t think I knew. I was very, very shy. I read a lot, but I didn’t think about being a writer. I think I just wanted to be able to communicate. I might have wanted to be a singer. I remember listening to music in my room and singing and not wanting anyone to hear me. I was pretty good. Despite the shyness (which I now keep pretty well hidden), I have never been afraid of performing – acting, singing, public speaking. Maybe I just wanted someone to write my life for me.
Do you think writing is intuitive, a taught skill, or both? Why?
I’m probably not the best person to ask. I haven’t had a writing class since college, which was not recent. And I’m kind of uncomfortable with answering with the implication that I have skill or talent or whatever it should be called, but I’ll answer anyways. I think you can teach technical skills, but you can’t create talent. Which is not to say you can’t teach or be taught anything. Not at all. I am desperate for learning more or anything, really. I just mean there has to be something there before teaching will take hold.
What was your least favorite class at any point in your education? Why?
I really hated chemistry. I took it in high school and moving forward in the class made me very anxious because I hadn’t learned the foundation. I think I didn’t like it and wasn’t good at it because I couldn’t see any human element in chemistry. It wasn’t relatable to me, which is not to say that it’s not those things. I think I needed more spoon-feeding at the time.
Are you reading anything right now?
I am reading a few things. Actually, I just finished Meaty, by Samantha Irby (also a Curbside Splendor author!), who is pee-your-pants funny. I have notorious sleep problems, so I used to read her blog on my phone in bed and couldn’t fall asleep because I was laughing so hard. Now, I am savoring Jess Stoner’s I Have Blinded Myself Writing This. I just moved to Austin, where Jess lives, and we swapped books and I am in awe of her writing. It is unique and challenging and so utterly compelling. I take little bites, so it won’t end too soon. And I was reading Infinite Jest, but I was moving and couldn’t haul that thing around for a while and gave up. But I was far in enough that I’ll go back to it.
Are you writing anything right now?
I wish I had a neater answer to this one. Sort of. I am very excited to have joined a writing circle. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this. I’ve never done a workshop or a real class or a writing group. I’ve worked with friends, mostly online, but being physically in the same space makes it different. I love it and I need it, because I’m having a hard time focusing lately, and it makes me write because that’s what we do. We have two sessions of writing, and check in before, and during a break, and after. I was so happy to have opened my tiny beginning of a novel and added about 200 words of it last night during the group. I am pushing back against a lot to write anything at all right now, especially the unknown, but I’m going to try to keep going. I’m invested enough that I need to see what happens.