Dear Writers and Readers,
I have embarked on two new projects! The first is an interview project, designed to help us get to know our regional writers and writers who are friends of our region better; interviews will be posted here, at Kate’s Miscellany (the first is below!). The second is a pop-up guest writers series!
Both launch this month as I welcome Kate Carroll de Gutes, whose debut essay collection, Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, won the Oregon Book Award for creative nonfiction and is also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award! Read on for (first) the event information, and (second) the first of my new interview series, in which Kate graciously participated!
June 17: Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear: Reading and Q&A with Kate Carroll de Gutes (& Social! & Book Exchange!) ~ FREE
Friday, June 17 at 7 PM – 9 PM
Studio J ~ Midtown, Sacramento (RSVP to receive address and parking info)
Join the Facebook event or email me at kate @ kateasche (dot) com to RSVP and for additional details! The critical info is:
Bring Books to Give Away! Bring Food/Drink to Share! Join Kate Asche as she hosts award-winning creative nonfiction writer Kate Carroll de Gutes for a smorgasboard of literary delights! Appetizer: Potluck munchies and mingling. First Course: de Gutes reads from her debut essay collection, Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear. Entree: Who doesn’t love a good Q&A? Ask de Gutes anything you want about writing, process and the writing life! Dessert: Book sales, signing and chatting with the two Kates, writerly fellowship and fun, and…drum roll, please…the *BOOK EXCHANGE*!
Yes, that’s right, step right up and pour your used books, your forgotten books, the books you said you would read and never did, the books you never wanted that people gave you…all these and more, pour them right out on the big table with everyone else’s. Then? Jump in and find some new treasures! All books left behind at the end of the night will be collected by Kate (Asche) and donated to the Friends of the Rancho Cordova Branch of the Sacramento Public Library (Kate’s home branch).
Meet The Writers of Our Neighborhood: Occasional Interviews with Sacramento Valley Writers (and Writers who are Friends of the Sacramento Valley!)
Using questions developed by a group of Kate’s students, these interviews aim to connect writers at all stages in their practice. The first five questions will always be the same, and the sixth question–a “wild card”–will always be different. In this first interview, Kate (Asche) gets personal with Kate (Carrol DeGutes). Enjoy!
How did you begin writing?
I’ve always written as a means of self expression. In fact, I can’t remember not writing. But I did get an undergrad degree in writing, worked on my college newspaper, and, after graduation, took a job as a feature writer for a Seattle-based magazine. I took a few years off to work in corporate America (salary won out) and then spent five years in the late 80s and early 90s running my own espresso bar, but even then I continued working on essays. In the mid-90s I began freelancing, writing for the tech industry. Interestingly enough, I don’t really consider that “real” writing. I call it “paid work” but it doesn’t feed my soul like essay writing does. I’ve been doing it 20 years now and I have a great deal of freedom and a nice stable of clients, but it is sucking the life force out of my own creative work, so some time in the next two years I’m planning to transition to a different job. I’m just not sure *what* that job might be.
Describe your writing process.
Well, it’s changing. I used to write in the morning before work, but now I’ve got a new client and I’ve got an early morning meeting 5 days a week–and once I’m at my desk for paid work, it’s very hard to get away. Now, I’m trying to take time every Saturday and Sunday afternoon to work on writing and at least one evening a week. It’s working right now because I’m single, but I can imagine this dance would be difficult to do if I had a partner.
What are the easiest and hardest things about writing?
The easiest thing is the writing itself. Really. The hardest thing is getting my backside in the chair and doing the writing. I like to say that I procrasti-clean before writing. You know, do every single dish, make sure the grout on the counters is clean, sweep and vacuum. Basically, any way I can procrastinate to keep from writing. In fact, I’m late getting this to you because I just had to fold some laundry.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Stop trying to hit it out of the park every time you sit down to write. My friend, the poet David Biespiel, makes an analogy to baseball. He says, if a player is hitting .356 he’s a star. What that means is 35% of the time he’s hitting the ball and making a base (and not necessarily even a home run). But writers, we like to think we should write a “perfect” draft each time we put pen to paper. But that’s impossible. You have to write a lot of crap to get to a good draft — and there’s no such thing as perfect, there’s just the latest iteration (h/t to Fred Mills for that one). So, stop taking yourself so seriously. Play around. Practice. Hit some foul balls. Strike out. The more you’re willing to do this, the better you’ll get.
What books have you read recently?
I’ve got three books going right now. Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” which I am loving because it’s full of practical advice on how to be creative in a world that doesn’t necessarily value creativity. I’m also reading “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield — again about all the ways we distract ourselves from creating (are you sensing a theme here). Finally, I’m reading some fiction because everyone needs a good escape: “The Amateur Marriage” by Anne Tyler
Describe your ideal writing day.
Coffee and the New York Times to wake up my brain. A few hours of early morning work, then a bike ride and lunch, then a few hours of afternoon reading, finally dinner and then two or three more hours of early evening writing. I think good writers are always good readers, so I try to make time for that every day and my ideal day would include at least 3 hours of it.