We are thrilled to introduce Writers in Progress’s new intern, Cece Roth-Eagle, who is a Smith College English major. Cece is taking a semester off this spring, to avoid online classes, work on her novel-in-progress, and learn more about the field through Writers in Progress!
Cece would love to interview some of the writers in our community for a Q&A blog series she’s starting, to help WIP writers share knowledge and stay connected throughout the pandemic. So, she may be reaching out to you to see if you’re interested!
In the meantime, to introduce her and start the ball rolling, I’ve asked her to answer a few questions about her own writing life:
What is a book that changed the way you understand writing?
Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood was really pivotal for me. It’s a 1940s novella that is close to incoherent, and it helped me realize that writing isn’t always about conveying information/describing a scene, but sometimes simply about inducing a feeling for readers.
What does your writing process look like? Do you have any quirks when it comes to creating?
I’m basically always taking notes on my phone, which I convert into paragraphs in my journal, which I then type up into a scene. I try to be tuned in to the details around me. For instance, the most recent thing I have written in my notes is “Down baby Lon!” which is graffiti on the train tracks near my apartment, and which I want to make into a short story.
Have you traveled in order to find inspiration or further any of your pieces?
Pandemically speaking, not really… I do make a point of visiting a different thrift store every week, because I find they really stimulate and inspire me. I especially love the vintage Polaroid piles that a lot of thrift stores have hidden away in crates and baskets- they can be great prompts.
What’s a discovery that you’ve made about writing that you wish you knew earlier.
At least for me, everything I write will probably be bad on the first draft. And the second draft. Eventually it takes form, but until then, I’m trying to learn to trust my instincts around a piece until it does.
What’s one of your own pieces that you are especially proud of?
I wrote my first fictional short story last semester and it immediately became my favorite genre. It’s called “Oat milk gaze” and it’s about an identity crisis taking place at Trader Joe’s.
How do you see your work dialoguing with the outside world?
I’ve had to read a lot of Milton, Blake, Chaucer, etc., in my college career, and it’s been hard to see myself in my curriculums and English courses. By writing as honestly as I can, I’m validating my perspective and filling in the blanks of the canon.
What’s something non-writerly that you enjoy doing?
Water coloring is fun for me because it’s one of the few places where I give myself full permission to be messy and out of control. I actually find that this low-stakes mentality translates well into the playfulness of my writing process.
What are you working on right now?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m working on a gap semester novel, to try to teach myself long form writing… So hopefully I’ll be able to stick with my protagonist throughout the spring. We’ll see!!