Lit Fest 2022 Preview: Q&A with Leslie Jamison

Lit Fest 2022 Preview: Q&A with Leslie Jamison

Editor's Note: In advance of the March 12 deadline to apply for Lit Fest Advanced Workshops, we've asked the 2022 Visiting Authors for a preview of their workshop style, what they're reading, and more.

What’s the most surprising source of inspiration for you lately? My daughter's imaginative play! Lately she's been creating her own versions of a "county fair" where she designs all of these inscrutable and unprecedented imaginary rides: the ghost ride, the vacuum cleaner ride. I love the way she takes the banal and enchants it, the way she mixes up her favorite characters from Greek mythology and her buddies from preschool. She's constantly integrating different spheres. 

What are you working on these days? An essay about daydreaming. An essay about hospitals. A memoir about motherhood and divorce. 

What’s the best writing class you’ve ever taken? The writing class that has had the most impact on my life as a writer was a workshop I took with Charles D'Ambrosio in 2006. The things he said to us in that class, the rigor and deep, gutting faith with which he approached what writing could be—it's all been rattling around in my soul ever since. He said, "Abandon your citizen self," and I've been trying to do that ever since. 

Any unusual/interesting writing habits? I always feel like the great secret of my writing life is how un-bohemian it is—how I'm basically a Type-A personality trapped in the body of an artist, beholden to my To Do lists. Which is to say: I break writing projects into smaller tasks, self-assignments, so that I can make a list of them and cross them off. It's immensely satisfying to me. It reminds me of working at a bakery in my twenties, coming in to see my production list stuck to the side of the walk-in cooler, using my sharpie to cross off each sugar-cookie-related task...

Leslie Jamison is teaching Weekend Advanced Nonfiction Workshop: Writing Relationships. Learn more here. Apply via Submittable.