This week’s blog features CWC panelist Christine Sneed, who will appear on The Process Panel at CWC 2016. Sneed is the author of the novels Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts, as well as the short story collections Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry and the forthcoming The Virginity of Famous Men. She has also written for The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune. She teaches creative writing at Northwestern University and Regis University.
1. What is your writing schedule like?
Most days I try to get writing done in the late morning and early afternoons. Sometimes I write a little in the evenings too, but in general, much of what I get down on the page on takes place somewhere between 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. I try to write every day, especially when I’m working on a new manuscript. If I have to travel, this schedule is interrupted, but if I have a quiet place to hide out in for an hour or two, sometimes I can get a few hundred words written.
2. Which writers do you draw inspiration from?
I love the short stories of Alice Munro, William Trevor, and Edward P. Jones, the novels of Scott Spencer, Jim Harrison, John Updike. Anne Carson and Rachel Cusk are also inspirations, as are the beautiful, melancholy, original novels and essays by W. G. Sebald.
3. What is one of the most useful pieces of writing advice you ever received?
I don’t remember who said the following, but it’s something I think about all the time: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a stick.”
And, as Mary Heaton Vorse said (if I remember correctly): “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”
4. How long do you spend on writing vs. editing your work?
It’s probably close to the same amount of time – I go over every story or novel manuscript that I write many times, word by word. It’s laborious, but it’s also the only way that I can feel some confidence that my sentences, the story, the diction are all working together in a way that won’t embarrass me if they are published.
5. What do you hope readers get out of your writing?
I hope they’ll find something truthful and memorable, and maybe that they’ll understand themselves and the world we inhabit a little better. It’s a coup too if on occasion I can also make them laugh.