My Writing Process | 6.30.14

Rae Bryant

Sometimes you meet fellow creatives who are both brilliant and heartfelt, both accomplished and grounded. Today, I’m going to share with you a few of these fellow creatives whom I call friends, confidantes and truly gifted authors/poets. I recommend them to you highly, not only for the genius they put into the world but also for the way they put themselves into the world: Rosebud Ben-Oni, Cris Mazza, Vallie Lynn Watson, Michael Nye, Luke Goebel and my writing workshop group at Aspen Writers’ Summer Words workshop led by Andre Dubus III. Rosebud invited me to this party, and she’s asked me to answer a few questions on my process of writing. Heheh. But first, I want to introduce Rosebud Ben-Oni:

Rosebud Ben-Oni is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists’ Collective, 2013) and a CantoMundo Fellow. Her work appears in The American Poetry Review, Bayou, Arts & Letters, Puerto del Sol, The Feminist Wire, Dialogist, B O D Y, Lana Turner Journal, Slice Magazine, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and elsewhere. In 2010, her story “A Way out of the Colonia” won the Editor’s Prize in Camera Obscura. Please read more about Rosebud at rosebudbenoni.comShe is super-talented and she does good things at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. If you don’t know her then that’s only because you are lame. Don’t be lame. Check out her book and her site. @rosebudbenoni

Now, on the Process of Writing…

On what am I currently working?
A drug-infused cult ride through a McDonald’s, a chapel, addictions, more addictions, sex, drive-thru redemption and snake worshipping. It’s a novel. Or it might have been my last book tour. I’m a little groggy on the details.

How does your work differ from others’ works in the same genre? 
Richard Peabody described my writing as “akin to doing the tango with a succubus.” Frederick Barthelme said my words “point you, by what’s left out, to a spot on this good earth where the heart might flourish.” Which is to say my work will dance with you and suck at you and will urge you toward some lighter space outside the confines of your dark room. I like this. I value dark and intimate spaces. They are the best way to know yourself and the best way to search out the light, whether or not you ever find it. Makes no matter. It is the journey. This is what I look for in my reading and it’s what I endeavor to inflict on my characters. Why is this unique? I’ll tell you a secret. I am a dancer and a succubus.

Why do you write what you do?
I read to contemplate. I write for the same reason. Contemplation. I have no patience for readers or writers who wish to be led by the hand. If I’m not challenged intellectually and emotionally by what I’ve read or written, I’m bored. And there is nothing worse than a bored writer.

How does your writing process work? 
Penelope’s tapestry. I’ll weave it and unweave it. Then I’ll weave it and unweave it again. For twenty long years I’ll weave and unweave the damn thing until it is smarter than me and figures out a way to weave itself. At one point, or several, it will piss me off and I’ll start mixing metaphors and throwing lip curls and beer bottles at it and then I’ll break it all to pieces. A real Sid Vicious. In the morning I’ll build it up again and sit down and get to work.

*How much of this self-interview is true?
Some of it. None of it. More. Or less. It doesn’t really matter what I say about myself as a writer. It makes no difference to the work. If you’re looking for writing advice or formulas, there are none. I mean, people will say things like write everyday (or whatever your rhythm is). And revision is the true art of writing. And they are correct. But most of it, the truly important pieces, you’ll have to work out for yourself along the way. Sorry. That’s the truth of it. Except for socks. I really like socks. I can’t wear shoes when I’m writing and if my feet are cold, I’m too distracted. Everything is lost in the discomfort of cold digits. So that’s my advice. Socks. Keep a pair of comfy socks nearby. They are your path to Pulitzer. I think. But I don’t now. I’m just writing. Oh. Oh. Actually. Here’s something Dubus (III) said in a workshop this last month, quoting Richard Bausch: “Dream dream dream.” Don’t overthink it when in the process of first putting words to paper. I like this. Dream it through. I think Dubus’ words were, “Dream it through, brother, dream it through.” He also meant sister.

Next week, Tune into Cris Mazza, Vallie Lynn Watson, Michael Nye and Luke Goebel…

Cris Mazza | Cris Mazza is the author of Something Wrong With Her, a hybrid memoir published by Jaded Ibis Press in 2014, a companion piece to Various Men Who Knew Us As Girls.  She has authored over a dozen other books, mostly novels and collections of short fiction. She is the winner of the Pen/Nelson Algren Award. Mazza now lives in the Midwest and is a professor in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois Chicago. @crismazzaauthor

Vallie Lynn Watson |  Vallie Lynn Watson is the author of the novel A River So Long (Luminis Books, 2012). Her work has appeared in dozens of literary magazines such as PANKdecomP magazinE, andGargoyle. She is an editor at New World Writing, formerly Mississippi Review online. Watson received her doctorate at the Center for Writers, the University of Southern Mississippi, and is teaching part-time in the Creative Writing and English departments at University of North Carolina Wilmington. In her spare time she is earning a hot air ballooning license. @vallielwatson

Michael Nye | Michael Nye is the author of Strategies Against Extinction, his debut short-story collection, was released from Queen’s Ferry Press in October 2012. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in BoulevardCincinnati Review, Crab Orchard ReviewKenyon ReviewNew SouthSou’wester, and South Dakota Review, among many others. His work has been a finalist for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in fiction and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is at work on new stories and a novel. He lives in the Midwest and works as the managing editor of The Missouri Review. @mpnye

Luke Goebel | Luke B. Goebel is a fiction writer living in Texas. His first novel, Fourteen Stories: None of Them Are Yours, will be released in September of 2014 by FC2 as the latest winner of the Ronald Sukenick Prize for Innovative Fiction. 

And Then There Is Aspen…

 I must give a special shout-out to an amazing writing group at The Aspen Writers Summer Workshop this  June in Aspen, Colorado. A big thank you to Aspen Writer’s for bringing me out and a bow to Vannessa Hua, Alex Wilson, Cara Lopez Lee, Terry Dubow, Tom Bernard, Dennis Vaughn, Lija Fisher, Cristal Thomas, Kathy Conde and, of course, our truly spectacular leader, Andre Dubus III, who I now affectionately refer to as sensei. Also, it was a treat to meet Meg WolitzerMelissa Bank and Billy Collins.

Here we are…

And here is the bottle we shot and autographed after our last workshop story.

Rae Bryant is the author of the short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals (Patasola Press, 2011). Her stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in print and online at The Paris ReviewThe Missouri Review, McSweeney’s, Huffington Post, New World Writing, Gargoyle Magazine, and Redivider, among other publications. Her intermedia has exhibited in New York, DC, Baltimore and Florence, Italy. She has won prizes and fellowships from Johns Hopkins, Aspen Writers Foundation, VCCA and Whidbey Writers and has been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, The &NOW Award and multiple times for the Pushcart award. Rae earned a Masters in Writing from Hopkins where she continues to teach creative writing and is founding editor of The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. She also teaches and lectures in the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa and The Eckleburg Workshops. She is represented by Jennifer Carlson with Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. @raebryant | #mywritingprocess

The Next Big Thing | Mazza, Eurydice, ZoBell, Watson, Innis, Basile, Clammer, Giddings

The lovely Bonnie ZoBell tagged me for “The Next Big Thing” series, and I’m supposed to answer questions about a recent or upcoming work and self-promote and all that on my blog, which I run on Facebook and is private. Major author info is at, if you’re interested. Instead of pimping my published book or novel ms. here, I’m going to use this space to bring attention back to Bonnie and to several more female and talented writers, who I have had, or will soon have, the pleasure of publishing at Eckleburg, and who have not perhaps received as much wide-spread media attention as they should, or maybe they have received wide-spread attention, but they should receive more! Don’t get me wrong. Media attention for my book is great. Happy to have more ,and I’ve been fortunate to receive a bit of it so far. But there is a time and place for everything.

Ladies, I salute you, and I will leave it up to you to pay this forward, backward, sideways or not.


Cris Mazza

Cris Mazza’s first novel, How to Leave a country, while still in manuscript won the PEN / Nelson Algren Award for book-length fiction. The judges included Studs Terkel and Grace Paley. Some of her other notable earlier titles include Your Name Here: ___, Dog People and Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? She was also co-editor of Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction (1995), and Chick-Lit 2 (No Chick Vics) (1996), anthologies of women’s fiction. Mazza’s fiction has been reviewed numerous times in The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, MS Magazine, Chicago Tribune Books, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Voice Literary Supplement, The San Francisco Review of Books, and many other book review publications. In spring 1996, Mazza was the cover feature in Poets & Writers Magazine.



Her work has been widely exhibited, anthologized and published. She has published a book of poetry, the novel f/32, for which she received the Fiction Collective Two Best Fiction Award (in England it appeared under the title f/32: The Second Coming with Virago Press in 1993, in America it briefly became a Kasak Books pocket), and a book of nonfiction, Satyricon U.S.A.: A Journey Across The New Sexual Frontier, published with Scribner. Her books have been reviewed in Time, Newsweek, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The N.Y. Observer, Wired, and many other venues. She has a BA in creative writing from Bard College, an MA in creative writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder, an MA in comparative literature and an MFA in creative writing from Brown University; she has taught creative writing at Brown University, lived and worked in India, been a staff investigative writer for Spin magazine. She lives in Miami, Manhattan, and the isle of Crete, and is raising a sunkissed daughter.


Vallie Lynn Watson

Vallie Lynn Watson is the author of the novel A River So Long (Luminis Books, 2012). Her work has appeared in dozens of literary magazines such as PANK, decomP magazinE, and Atticus Review. She is an editor at Blip Magazine, formerly Mississippi Review online. Watson received her doctorate at the Center for Writers, the University of Southern Mississippi, and teaches creative writing at Southeast Missouri State University. In her spare time she is earning a hot air ballooning license.


Julie Innis

Originally from Cincinnati, Julie Innis now lives in New York. Her work has appeared in Post Road, Pindeldyboz, and Gargoyle, among others, and has received several awards and mentions including two Pushcart nominations, a Glimmer Train Top-25 New Short Fiction designation, and, most recently, a Notable Story recognition in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012 anthology, edited by Dave Eggers. She holds a Master’s in English Literature from Ohio University and is currently on staff at One Story Magazine. Three Squares a Day with Occasional Torture is her first book.


Lisa Marie Basile

Lisa Marie Basile is the author of a Andalucia (Brothel Books). Her book, A Decent Voodoo (Červená Barva Press) will be released in 2012. She also authored the chapbooks Triste (forthcoming, Dancing Girl Press) and White Spiders (Gold Wake Press, 2010). Her work can be seen in PANK, Word Riot, elimae, Metazen, kill author, Prick of the Spindle, Moon Milk Review, Pear Noir! decomP and others.


Chelsey Clammer

Chelsey Clammer received her MA in Women’s Studies from Loyola University Chicago. She has been published in THIS, The Rumpus, Atticus Review, Sleet, The Coachella Review and Make/shift among many others. She received the Nonfiction Editor’s Pick Award 2012 from both Revolution House and Cobalt for her essays “BodyHome” and “I Have Been Thinking About,” respectively. She is currently finishing up a collection of essays about finding the concept of home in the body. 


Megan Giddings

Megan Giddings is  presently at Miami University where she’s working on a MA in fiction and writing a novel. Her work appears in >kill author, and the Eckleburg Salon.




Bonnie ZoBell

Bonnie ZoBell has a flash fiction chapbook, THE WHACK-JOB GIRLS, forthcoming from Monkey Puzzle Press in March 2013 and is completing a collection of connected stories set in the North Park area of San Diego. She’s received an NEA for her fiction, the Capricorn Novel Award, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award for a story that was later read on NPR. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Night TrainThe Greensboro Review, New Plains Review, PANK . . .


Rae Bryant’s short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals, released from Patasola Press, NY, in June 2011. Her stories have appeared or are soon forthcoming in StoryQuarterly, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, BLIP Magazine, Gargoyle Magazine, Wag’s Revue and Redivider, among other publications and have been nominated for the Pen/Hemingway, Pen Emerging Writers, and Pushcart awards.  She writes essays and reviews for such places as New York Journal of Books, Puerto del Sol, The Nervous Breakdown, Portland Book Review and She teaches writing at such places as Johns Hopkins and Iowa’s International Writing Program and is editor in chief of the literary and arts journal, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review.