Sunday, June 23, 2013

1/2 Dozen with Anne Leigh Parrish

I don't think anyone in these Q and As has ever said so succinctly that writing is a psychologically healthy place for writers to be as Anne Leigh Parrish does here. I've talked about it a good bit, especially with a few friends who seem to do best while engaged in the novel -- the extended imagining that spans long stretches of time. I'm a writer whose mind seems to like to control a controllable world -- the real world doesn't comply. I also love her take on the omniscient point of view. I've never heard someone speak of it that way before -- and I'm currently writing something that veers omniscient, something I've always feared.

And so now Anne Leigh Parrish -- 6 questions, 6 answers.

Current obsessions -- literary or otherwise.  
I seem to be obsessed with narrative voice – the omniscient point-of-view, to be specific.  I'm tired of what I call "the cult of the individual," where a story follows the inner life of just one person.  Nor am I thrilled with the first-person voice, it's just too self-centered.  In an omniscient point-of-view, everyone has a seat at the table, as it were.

What’s your advice to someone who’s fallen in love with a writer? 
To be patient with the long, disappointing stretches when she's not placing her work and she's beginning to wonder why no one wants to publish her.  Patience is also required when inspiration fails.  A writer who's not writing is a fearsome thing!

Writing Tip #17 for Aspiring Writers – or #47 or #2. Your pick.  
That's easy – never give up.  Just keep writing.  And learning from the writers you admire.  Also to be ruthless, which means being willing to tear what you've written apart, right down to the bone, and put it back together again in a better, more beautiful way.

Pep talk (or bootie-kicking) for the downhearted writer. Let fly.  
Oh, this is right up my alley!  Write because you know, you KNOW, that you're crazier when you're not writing than when you are.  Write because it gives you joy, not because you want to be loved (although you obviously do).  Understand that whatever you write will be more important to you than it ever will be to anyone else, and that this truth makes whatever you write yours and yours alone.  As writers, we lend our work to our readers, but we never really give it away.

Criticism. It’s part of the territory. How do you handle it? Is this the way you’ve always handled it?  
I used to be terribly sensitive, and that sensitivity was no doubt born of fear that I was, in truth, a talentless hack who was kidding herself about her gifts as a writer.  Now I look at a review as information gathering.  I'm curious about how someone else responds to my work.  And I think I can tell when a reader isn't particularly astute or discerning, and misses some subtle point.  That said, I can still get cranky if someone's praise isn't instant and overwhelming!

This is a vast question. Interpret it at will. What’s the future of publishing?  
It's all going digital, for one thing, and it will be more and more driven by the author.  With the huge number of authors now self-publishing, traditional publishers aren't the gatekeepers they once were.  Readers need new places to find out what worth readying and what isn't.  I see a boon to reviewers in this, also contest and awards – anything that validates a few out of the sea of the many.  Another boon, if you will, will be for free-lance editors, graphic designers, anyone who's involved in the business of producing a book.

Anne Leigh Parrish’s new story collection, Our Love Could Light The World, (She Writes Press, 2013) was declared a Finalist in the 2013 International Book Awards.  Her first story collection, All The Roads That Lead From Home, earned a silver medal from in the 2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards.  She has new work forthcoming this summer in Nomos Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Whiskey Paper. You can buy her new book by clicking here.