5 Questions with Susie Bright

Q: What is your preferred environment for writing?

A: My office, when I’m all alone. Or, in bed with my MacBook on a pillow.

I’ve often wondered about writing retreats; they sound so luxurious. But I’ve never been to one.

I can “disappear” with my writing in a crowd. I’ve worked at news desks (back when press rooms were crowded) and at airports, cafés, libraries.

What I don’t like: working on planes. The commerical air systems today rub me the wrong way, every way. I have to take a Valium and read a trashy magazine and listen to music. I feel about as original as a plank; creativity is impossible. My first priority is to keep from going into a rage.

Q: What punctuation mark are you fondest of?

A: Oh, do I ever love this question. In terms of its versatility—the em dash. For handwriting, I always liked drawing question marks and ampersands. In Spanish, I relish that you begin and end exclamations with the same thrilling mark!

Q: What punctuation, spelling, grammar, style, or usage error annoys you the most?

A: I’m not annoyed by anyone’s first draft for themselves. My first drafts are obscenities of typographical errors and awkward constructions. When I compose, I’m in the “pouring out” stage. What I object to, what galls me, is writers who think that THAT unholy mess is what you turn in to an editor.

There is no writing without self-editing. I wish I could drop cases of Elements of Style out of a helicopter over large student populations.

Q: If you weren’t in your current line of work, what would you be doing instead?

A: My line of work has lots of costume changes. How many people get to hole up with their one singular passion anymore? I’m a mother, publisher, advisor, blogger, editor, author, performer, teacher, organizer, chief bottle-washer.

When I was little, I liked to sing and dance when I wasn’t reading and making up stories. My daughter’s stage-managing a play right now, and I daydream about how fun it would be to grab one of those scripts. Sign me up for a Broadway musical.

Q: What drove you to become a writer?

A: Politics. I wanted desperately to convince people of something I was in a lather about. Outrage at an injustice. Wanting to share something hilarious. Argument. Poetry. Lyrics.

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5 Questions with Nancy Garden
Nancy Garden is the author of Annie on My Mind.

Q: What is your preferred environment for writing?

A: My study in Maine, when it isn’t being used as a guest room. It’s in a cabin where my partner and I spend several months every year—in a spruce and birch forest on a little cove. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a separate little cabin in the woods—a studio all to myself—but this is a good second best, and I get more work done there than I do the rest of the year in Massachusetts, where I have a bit more space but many more distractions.

Q: What punctuation mark are you fondest of?

A: The dash, which I use constantly. My next favorite is the semicolon.

Q: What punctuation, spelling, grammar, style, or usage error annoys you the most?

A: The misuse of “lay” for “lie”—which I’ve even seen, to my horror, in the New York Times—and sentences like “Her and I went to the store.” I accept that the English language is changing and always has—but these “changes” make me cringe!

Q: If you weren’t in your current line of work, what would you be doing instead?

A: That’s very hard to say. Teaching (which I’ve done and enjoyed)?  Directing, acting in, and/or lighting plays (the career possibility that battled with writing when I was in high school, and which I actually did for a while)? Being a veterinarian (which I wanted to do when I was a small child)? Or a vet tech? But I suspect that I’d go on writing anyway, regardless of what else I was doing, as I’ve always done.

Q: What drove you to become a writer?

 

A: A love of reading, and a need to create with words.

 

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