I read more fiction than nonfiction. Having said that, I think people, all of us, are odd and intriguing, and in my everyday life, I can’t help but try to coax stories out of the people I talk to. I want to hear your stories, all of them. In that same vein, there’s an intimacy that forms between writer and reader in personal essay that I don’t think is as common in other forms. I dig it.
How does this published piece fit in with the larger thematic concerns that you see in your overall work?
I have a problem with memory. It’s hard for me to write long, linear accounts of some of the things I’ve experienced in my life. A lot of my writing has been trial and error of me figuring out the best ways to overcome that, telling a complete story without having to write anything that feels less than entirely true just to fill in the gaps. I think the form that this essay took was a useful way for me to do that. Most of the lines are spare, and I was more beholden to the structure than to conventional storytelling which, while constricting by design, freed me up to bounce around from one burst of memory to the next. Additionally, just answering this question to this point has put me well beyond my comfort level where serious and sincere communication is concerned; the form this essay took let me sprinkle in a little levity, I hope, without it being too jarring or feeling like too much of a defense mechanism.
What are you influenced by?
I don’t think I’ve written one decent thing that wasn’t a blatant attempt to make someone love me. Is that what you mean by influence? Also David Rakoff, Joan Didion, George Saunders, early Elton John (but not too early (his first album is terrible)), Sam Cooke, Mel Brooks, Lily Tomlin, Madeline Kahn, Carol Burnett, the film Roxanne, and existential dread.
What does your typical writing schedule look like? What aspects of working do you look forward to? What aspects frustrate you?
I’m writing this in an almost entirely dark room, late at night, while watching the clock tick ever closer to the point at which it will no longer be feasible for me to get up and go to the gym before work in the morning and trying to decide which is more important, submitting this or going to the gym. Also this is due back to you tomorrow. That’s pretty much my process.
I look forward to hitting some sort of flow that makes more than five words a minute leave my fingertips. Imagine Captain James T. Kirk delivering a monologue, and that’s me getting . . . words . . . onto . . .
The aspects that frustrate me are all the other parts.
If you could pick one meal that matches the piece we published, what would it be and why?
Half a can of sour cream and chive Pringles, retrieved from under the driver’s seat of my car, because my bulimic ex-wife can’t have that kind of food in the house, eaten while I’m speeding to the hospital to see if they’ve managed to save her life again. Okay, fine, the whole can. The narrator in this piece is almost always hungry and does not have her shit together. It’s a miracle she’s still alive.
CARRIE KOSICKI’s work has appeared in Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Art of Persuasion. Her essay, “Unanimously Happy” won the 2008 Reba Elaine Pearl Burkhardt Roorbach Award for Creative Nonfiction. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her wife, Jen.