Women Who Write: Karishma Jobanputra, interviewed by Paulina Pinsky

I have put this interview off three times, and when it finally did end up happening, I was two hours late. It isn’t because I did not want to interview my subject, that isn’t the case at all. It’s just that I am struggling with sustaining the momentum that this project started with. A noble cause by a lazy woman, I constantly swallow what I can’t chew. Intense conversations are hard to have and transcribing an hour and a half conversation word-for-word is it’s own special kind of masochistic torture. Four weeks in, I think I’m starting to get it: women who write have a hard time calling themselves a writer. Nevertheless, I’m still not satisfied and I’m incapable of not finishing things that I start.

A little after 11 AM. A snowy Monday morning in April (something only the devil could dream up for the start of spring), fiction writer Karishma Jobanputra waits in the far back corner of Nussbaum & Wu in front of her open laptop, a small coffee by her side. Spindly limbed, her dark hair blankets over her, protecting her from the snowy world. When Karishma speaks, her accent makes you forget that she’s only twenty-two–  a British accent adds an air of elegance to the simplest of people. But of course, Karishma is far from simple. Her sardonic wit, self-awareness, and undebatable elegance makes her interesting and compelling independent of her vocal inflections.  I have made a habit out of standing in front of the Chair’s Fellows in the Writing Office. A Chair Fellow herself, she politely asked, “How are you?” and I replied, “Alive.” To which she said, “I am barely hanging on by a single thread.” To have brutal honesty reflected back at me was the signal of friendship, and we haven’t looked back since.

When she sent me the image for this interview, she clarified, “If you pick the last one we’re gonna have to put in a line at the start of the interview to be like ‘she is never gonna have a music album that would allow her to use this picture as the cover and that is the only reason why she is using it here. please note she does not think she’s cool enough to use this as a photo of herself for things like this. She was also not trying to pose. It was just very hot.’ or you know, something.'” That throat clearing alone is a taste of Karishma– self-deprecating, hilarious, lightly self-conscious and painfully self-aware.

Heading into this interview  there is one thing to know: do writers who make things up– fiction writers– feel more worthy of calling themselves a writer? Does imagination breed confidence? Or are they equally as stricken by this imposter syndrome that everyone seems to be sick with? Karishma is kind about my lateness, I sit down with a coffee and a bagel, and I start recording.

I will probably get anxious halfway through this interview to check and see if it’s still recording, because that’s what I do.

That’s my biggest fear in life.

I unwrap my cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and mutter, “Oh my god, yes.” Karishma laughs

Lis [Harris] tells this story of when she was interviewing this super impressive judge, she was fumbling with her recorder. And so the judge said, “Stop fumbling.” So she stopped fumbling. And when she got home she realized it hadn’t recorded anything.

What did she do?

She couldn’t re-do it. Nothing, I guess.

I’m gonna have nightmares about that now.

I know! I guess iPhone’s a bit more dependable. But–

That’s horrible! I have nightmares about that kind of thing. It’s so stupid, when I write things I’m like, “Am I actually writing?” And then I get home and I’m like, I need to make sure I wrote it down. Like, is it there? Is it there?

What a beautiful segue way.

She laughs

We’ll start with where are you from, what’s your story, what’s your family like–

What’s my story? How long do you have?

I laugh

Okay, okay! I was born in London and I grew up in London. And then I moved for my undergrad. I went to Warwick, which most people don’t know but I describe it as– It’s Warwick.

Warwick is its name and its description.

It’s in Warwickshire, which is where Shakespeare was born. So I did my undergrad there, and then I graduated, and then I moved here. Um, I feel like that’s my basic resume story. Is that okay?

You’re still a fresh babe.

I know.

I always forget that about you.

I’m twenty-two and a half. Well. More than a half. But, you know.

That’s crazy. It’s crazy that you’re in graduate school at twenty-two.

It’s kind of insane, and people kind of ask me, like, do you feel like you did it too young. Which I feel like… yeah? But also, if I didn’t do it straight after my undergrad, I wouldn’t have done it otherwise– so I’m glad that I did it.

I get paranoid about the recording, I adjust the phone to be closer to Karishma as I say, “I’m paranoid and always screaming,” to which she replies, “No, I am quiet.” I say, “I’m sorry, go on.”

But I do kind of feel like I’m only learning the things I need to be learning about myself and my writing this semester. Which is great? But also kind of sad because this is the last semester. But I don’t know, maybe that’s part of the process. Maybe everyone kind of just grows and it hits now.

Two years is not enough. Just when you figure out what you’re doing, they [Columbia] kick you out.

Yeah. I had a meeting with my workshop professor last semester, Sam Lipsyte, and I was saying exactly that. I was saying, “I feel like I’m only now working out what I want to write and what I want to write about.” And he was like, “Honestly, that’s kind of the point. Like if you leave here after two years ready to write something– well, at least knowing what you want to write– you’ve done it right.” And I was like, “That’s great because that’s exactly where I am.”

So maybe now I’m ready to write, which feels stupid because I’ve spent two years apparently doing that.

No, but you were getting the tools!

Exactly.

So your family, they’re still in London?

They’re in London.

Siblings?

I have two younger brothers. My mom, my dad, two younger brothers– one of them is two years younger than me and he has special needs, and one of them is seven years younger than me.

Wow!

I know, it’s quite…

Wow!

I know, it’s a lot.

Seven years? Was that on purpose?

I’ve never asked. I’m gonna skip past this question because– I’m British.

I laugh

I love offending your British sensibilities. I love seeing how far I can push you.

I mean, it’s… keep going, keep going! I’m really enjoying it.

We laugh

It’s funny cause I’m so not British anymore? And it’s like changing everything, and I love it. I really love it.

Interesting. What does that mean?

I mean, I’m losing that sensibility. I used to be so uncomfortable with making other people uncomfortable that I would prefer to be uncomfortable if other people were comfortable– I said comfortable a lot in that, I’m sorry. But now, I don’t care. And it’s great because it’s very much because of my writing. I wrote a short story that I got workshopped last week about sex, and it was insane. I was just like, “Oh my god! This is what it’s like to just write about anything. I can do anything now!” It’s amazing.

That’s so freeing.

Yeah.

I think that also comes with age, though.

I think so. I mean a lot of it is kind of, a lot of it is culture, I think. So a lot of it is kind of a mix of general– and it sounds kind of stupid, but like general Britishness. Like that culture. But also, I’m originally from India and we don’t talk about things that are uncomfortable or rude or whatever. And a lot of it is personality stuff. So I’ve been actually showing up to therapy this year.

Yay!

Which is very exciting.

So exciting.

And I figure that a lot of the stuff that I feel is being uncomfortable taking up physical space. I guess that discomfort with taking up space in reality spills over into my writing And so like writing about certain things and using the “I”, is something that I find so hard, but finally doing that– I’m taking up space and I’m finally owning that space.

I… The coffee is slowly hitting me, and I am so into this conversation. Actually, this semester I wrote about using the first person–

Same!

Because it’s so hard to do. Especially in nonfiction. What I wrote was discombobulated and not entirely fleshed out, but essentially the idea was like, I don’t feel legitimate using “I”.

Same.

And I wonder if that has to do with academic writing. Because to use the first person is to weaken your argument.

Oh yeah, a hundred percent.

Which, now, I think the opposite. Like, no. I am speaking to a specific individual experience, I’m not trying to make grand academic claims.

Exactly. And a lot of that is part of, sadly, the patriarchal culture that we live in because to use the “I”, there’s an undertone of emotion.

I take a bite of my bagel, it falls out of my mouth and I catch it in my hand. Cream cheese side landing in my palm. Karishma laughs and says, “Nice.” To which I reply, “Nailed it. At least I didn’t drop it.” She laughs again

Using the “I” is speaking to my personal experience and my feelings, and like a lot of the time when you feel something or have a specific emotion it’s so associated with being a female and being “hysterical” and not being intellectual and logical about things.

Mhm!

That’s also a problem I have with writing nonfiction and using the “I”. But I’ve finally passed it, which is great!

That’s amazing! Well you wrote a column last year.

I did!

And that was the first person.

But the stakes weren’t high because it was a humor column. And so it was very much like I can be fun and breezy– it’s so easy to be that person. I feel like that’s how a lot of people curate their instagrams. Like “I’m this fun loving person and I’m funny all the time!” And I was that person. But now I’m writing things that are much darker in subject, but they’re very real. And it feels like the stakes there are higher. I’m talking about something that is actually very difficult to talk about, and I’m still doing it, you know?

I mean, that’s the writing that I do non-stop, which is why I walk around like a fuggin’ peeled onion all of the time.

I’m joining that club.

It’s hard–

It sucks! It’s so hard.

That’s something that isn’t widely talked about– the emotional tool that writing takes. And like, and I don’t know, maybe it’s different when you’re writing fiction. But like, for me, it constantly requires me to… I don’t know how to explain it.

I fully get it.

And it’s like, people expect me to be a friend– a functional human being– after I’m done writing? Like? I describe it as unzipping my rib cage and spilling out my guts and looking with a magnifying glass.

That’s exactly it. And also trying to be coherent doing that, which is insane!

Right! Like, let me spin a narrative out of my pain.

Exactly.

We laugh haphazardly

Which, I feel like people don’t– it’s hard because a lot of people read it as confessional writing or writing a diary, but actually it’s not that at all. It’s so painful, it’s so painful.

The thing that frustrates me about even the word “confessional” is that it undermines the act itself. It makes it seem like it’s an indiscretion and not a deliberate choice– it’s just spilling out of your mouth and you can’t contain it. Whereas–

Good writing isn’t like that. Good writing is you’re not just letting it spill out of you, you’re honing it and making a narrative and a delight to write and read.

Everything is a deliberate choice.

Exactly.

Especially in this current climate of think piece, where this is so much confessional writing– some of which I have done myself– it undermines those who do it deliberately.

Yeah, yeah.

I’m sorry, I’m hijacking your interview.

No, I’m loving this. Please keep speaking.

I laugh

I’m just gonna listen to your words of wisdom.

Well, I’ve just been really interested in the place where you have to access to write. And for fiction and nonfiction, is it the same place? Or no?

No. It’s definitely a different place for me. It’s funny because I don’t think I’m a fiction writer at all. And I’m realizing that now because I’m finally writing all of this nonfiction. But for workshop, I’m still submitting fiction. And people are reading it and going, “Here were all of the things that I thought were present,” and they start listing things– I had workshop last week, and they kept saying, “Oh, hunger in this is so prevalent, and insecurity in this is prevalent, what it means to be a woman, culture, expectations, tradition”– all of these things. And I was like, “Wow, I think I’m just using fiction to say all of the things I want to say, but I’m too afraid to say using the ‘I’.” But now I’m at a point where I’m not afraid. So it’s like, fiction’s great. But I’m just using it as a veil and I don’t need that veil anymore.

I mean, there’s a different freedom with fiction in terms of being able to make things up and have a narrative that feels complete and cute or whatever. With nonfiction if the end of what you’re writing doesn’t feel like it ends in a way that lands how you want it to, well then, you have to write it in a way that makes it feel like it does, you know? But you can’t make it up.

That’s fascinating. Well because i’m not a fiction writer, and sometimes I’m like, “Oh, I’m not a writer because I am pulling from real life rather than out of thin air.” Sometimes I feel like fiction or poetry is more of a craft– which I know is not true.

It’s not true at all.

But I feel like it’s popular conception– if you’re making it up, it’s somehow more artistic.

Because people think you need that imagination part? It’s such a contentious thing to say– and I’ve had arguments about it– but I do honestly think that genre is relatively pliable. So I don’t know if there really are that many boundaries between fiction and nonfiction. Poetry, maybe.

Because it’s so stylized.

Because of like form, right? But I don’t know if I could ever write fiction that didn’t have any of me in it, right? And with nonfiction, I spoke to Taleen about this and I took a class with Leslie Jamison last year and she was talking about this, too.

The siblings class, right?

Right, right, right! You were in that!

It is so weird to think we were in the same class but we didn’t know each other.

I was so afraid of you because you were so cool–

What?!?

I was like, “Oh my god, this girl is cool I can’t speak to her.” And you were sitting next to Peter all the time, and I thought you guys were so cool and I wanted to be your friend.

Oh, well Peter’s really cool–

I love him! We’re going to dinner now! Why did it take me so long to realize?!

Well, I was so afraid, of like, the Leslie Jamison cult aura in that room.

Same, same!

I think that she’s fantastic, but the cold feeling of being in her classroom–

It makes me wary.

Everyone is performing and it’s so viscerally apparent to me.

It actually makes me kind of nauseous.

Me too! It’s just like, “Everyone, get the stick out of your butthole.”

Yes! I am fully with you!

We laugh

What was I going to say? Right! When she was talking about when you write nonfiction this idea that is anything actually nonfiction? Because everyone remembers things differently so what actually is nonfiction? Because if I remember something, someone else will remember it really differently. So like, I don’t know. Is anything really fiction or nonfiction? I don’t know, but I love playing with that line. The subjectivity of memory and all that.

I love that. So that leads nicely– do you identify as a writer?

I hate this question, I hate this question so much! It’s the worst! And I love that you’re so happy about this!

I laugh as I dance in my seat

I went to my first ever Barre Class last week, so this (she mimics my dance moves, flailing her arms) is painful, this is so painful.

Did they make you do a million tiny movements?

Yes! With weights! And it was not fun!

I don’t understand the type of woman it takes to go to that every day.

Every day? People go every day?!

Oh ya!

Ew!

I know! You must hate yourself a little bit, you know what I mean? That is an act of self-hate.

That’s upsetting to me.

We laugh nervously

But, back to the question– I feel like I’m having to deal with that question because I’m graduating. And so like whatever it is that I do, people are gonna be like, “Right, but you got your graduate degree in writing, so are you now a writer? What are you doing with that degree?” It’s hard, I don’t really know what I need to do in order to feel like I can say that I’m a writer. But like, it feels to me– and I think it’s just a personal stupid thing– it feels like it’s tied to making a living from it to be able to say I am one. Because if I’m not making a living from it, then how am I different from anybody else who’s doing another job and writes in their spare time? Because that’s what I would be doing if I wasn’t making a living from it, so. I don’t know.

Right now I think I’m a writer because I’m in grad school and I’m writing and I spend the majority of my time doing that and I know that’s what I want to do.But once I graduate and have to get a job in order to pay for things because writing doesn’t do that, then I don’t know.

You’re not alone in that sentiment. You’re really not.

And I don’t know what it would take to say, “Yes, I’m a writer.” Would I need a best-selling book? Do I have to like– I don’t know what I need.

I feel like it’s the only thing that I care about. I know that I’m a writer, but to say it to other people– to say that it’s the only thing I care about doesn’t justify saying that I’m a writer to other people. But it’s enough for me, do you know what I mean?

Yeah. I mean, I’m doing all of these interviews– I don’t know. It’s just another element of identity that we each have to figure out. And especially since it’s not easy to publicly be a writer, it would be so much easier if it was fifty years ago and we could all live on the Lower East Side for like $50 a month and practice our craft, or whatever.

That would be amazing.

It’s such a different world.

It’s such a different time.

And it’s disheartening.

I think there’s such a difference now between your job and your career. My career is writing, but like, my job may not necessarily be writing because I may have to do something else in order to live and to pay for things.

That’s an important distinction.

That feels important. And I think I’m still figuring it out.

You’re the youngest person that I’ve interviewed– and I’m not that much older than you. I’m twenty-five.

We’re both basically twenty-two.

Seriously, yeah, I am still twenty-two. No, but I mean like, when I was twenty-two, I had just graduated from Barnard, I was moving to Chicago, I was gonna be a comedian. Which, obviously is not what I’m trying to do now. So the fact that you knew that you wanted this at twenty– you got here when you were twenty!

Yeah.

That’s crazy! I would never have been able to do this at twenty.  

I tell her a story about when I was twenty.

I wish I knew you when you were twenty, wow I wish I knew you.

That’s Barflina, she’s another girl.

She laughs

I wish I could get to know her, she sounds amazing.

She comes out every so often.

Beautiful! I mean, my undergrad was Law. In England, you can do Law as an undergrad and it’s only three years.

So you could be a lawyer.

I’d have to do a year of like qualifying stuff, and then I could. So I was in my second year and I applied to Columbia because I wanted to come straight after I graduated. And I think I just knew because I was so unhappy. I was so unhappy doing my undergrad that I was like, “I don’t actually care anymore about doing what is considered the right thing or what will make me a lot of money or what will be a stable career.” Like actually, those things aren’t important to me. And maybe I just think that right now because I’m twenty-two and maybe in ten years I’ll be like, “Wow, maybe a stable career is something that I want.”

I’m willing to forego that if that means I can write because it’s the only thing that makes me happy. I’m not as free anywhere as I am on the page, so I was like, “This is what I’m want to do.” I can write anything I want, and it’s all separate from the narrative that everyone else creates for me, and I love that. It’s unbelievably liberating.

I think that so many people are afraid of doing that because of what is perceived as the right thing to do.

Oh, definitely.

That’s what I love about this program– it’s full of people who are committing to what they love. A group of people saying, “I’m not gonna do what people expect, I’m gonna do what I want.”

Which is a really hard thing for people to do. And actually, a lot of people don’t actually step back and think, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” I think if they did, they might do what they want to do. But I think a lot of people think that what they’re doing is what they want to do? Maybe it is! Maybe it is and I have no idea. But so many people say to me, when they hear what I’m doing, “That’s insane, I could never do that!” And it’s like, “No, but you definitely could! Do what you want to do, it’s fine! What’s the worst that’s gonna happen?”

Failure. People are afraid of failure.

Oh, I’m terrified of failure! And yet! I decided to choose this career! It’s great! It’s really great!

I laugh

So then, do you identify as an artist?

What does that mean? I’m sorry, I just answered your question with a question. I’m a lawyer. What does that mean, Paulina?

I don’t know! It depends on what it means to you.

I feel like being an artist is that you practice your art, and I think of writing as an art, so I guess, yeah– if I identify as a writer, then I also identify as an artist, but I’m still working out if I identify as a writer. So I still don’t know. Is that an answer to your question?

She laughs

Is that at all helpful?!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Absolutely.

Do you? Can I hijack this interview?

Some days, some days. Something I talked about with Catherine is that she feels like calling herself an artist is posture. So on the days that I feel confident– like, if I submit a workshop and it’s well-received, I feel like an artist that day.

I get that.

But like that today, no. I couldn’t get out of bed.

I get that, too.

I was like two hours to this interview, which maybe makes me more of an artist?

She laugh

It does. I feel like you’re really committing to who you are, and I love it!

I think that’s something the comes with age– is it a phase or just a personality trait? I’m just always gonna be late. I’m going to actively work against it, but at this point it’s a part of who I am. Time gives that to me, that knowledge.

Everyone says that to me, so I am very much looking forward to being older because then maybe I’ll have my shit together? At least I’m hoping so?

My best friend always says she is so ready to be thirty for that very reason– stable income, a home, and hopefully a cat to call her own. Because being in your is so painful.

Thank you so much for saying that! That is, just my god, thank you. Thank you so much.

Oh, they’re so painful.

Everyone I know says, “Oh, your twenties are the best time of your life! You should enjoy them! And you’re young!” And I don’t know, maybe it’s part of being a writer and that’s painful, and that’s a part of it. I feel like I’m trying to do the work of figuring out who I am and what I want and where I want to go– all of the important things. And it’s so painful. It’s exhausting all the time.

But it feels like it’s worth it? But that doesn’t mean it’s not painful. And then having to write about it– it’s like, let’s rip this open further and make a narrative from it.

I think it is the difference between writers and non-writers because, as you said, your fiction is still saying things that you believe. And maybe it’s not coming from the same emotional space, but you’re still saying exactly what you’re thinking. And that is more self-exploration than most people have to or want to do.

I think you have to have a certain level of introspection if you’re a writer. And I… I met someone relatively recently and the second time I met them they said, “You know, you’re pretty introspective.” And I was just like, “I’m not pretty introspective, I’m so introspective. But thank you?”

It’s hard because people get that confused with writer’s wanting to be alone–

Yes! Being introverted and being introspective are two very different things.

Right! Like being alone and loneliness are separate things– they’re very different! But I think they get mixed up a lot. And I love being alone. I love it so much, it’s so restorative for me. But a lot people don’t understand that. And I think it’s hard for people who aren’t writers, they don’t understand what it’s like to spend so much time in your own head. Like, don’t you want to spend that time out in the world? And it’s funny because actually, I don’t. I write to live, as opposed to live to write. I am more alive when I write than when I am living.

I’m well aware that that’s not a normal thing to say. Objectively, it feels like that is not healthy or like– but I don’t care because that’s when I feel most alive, so. So I’m gonna do it.

I feel like Hilton Als wrote a quote like that. Was it Hilton Als?

It was. Was it for the Guardian or something? It was like, “I half-live so that I can really live when I write it.” I’m really butchering it, but it’s something like that. And when I read it, I was like, “That’s exactly what it is.”

I love, by and large, I love words more than I love people. And I think that a lot of people that I love that are in my life would take that as a slight against them, like our relationship isn’t that strong, but really it has nothing to do with them. It’s me. I just love words. Unreasonably. The way a sentence works, the syntax, the punctuation. And then how sentences work in a paragraph and then on a page. How it all works together and sings, there’s nothing like moulding words and whitespace and then seeing it all do what you want it to do. After you switch things around and play for so long and then it clicks together. That feeling is something else.

And I just love control. When I’m writing, I have complete control. I have control of the words I’m using, the syntax, what the people– what the characters do or don’t do. You are creating a world, and you’re controller of that world. And I think that’s the only place that I feel that.

Like, unadulterated control–

Which, makes me sound like a complete psycho.

No! No, but it’s so true!

But it’s so funny that you can say, “I’m not– I don’t know, I don’t know if I’m a writer.”

We laugh

Well, but the thing is even if you love words that doesn’t mean I’m a writer. I feel like I have to be good enough to be a writer.

Will you ever feel good enough to be a writer?

Oh, no! Obviously not!

I laugh

Listen, I’m okay with it being an aspirational thing.

I’m totally fine with that.

I mean, I think that the identity of being a writer is so romanticized.

Oh, for sure. For sure.

If anything, it doesn’t feel romantic– it’s a compulsion.

Yeah, I don’t have a choice. My parents sometimes say to me, “Don’t let it control you, don’t stay up until 2 AM writing because that’s not self-care.” But also, it doesn’t feel like I have a choice some of the time– I’m not going to be able to fall asleep anyway, so I’m gonna write this because this actually matters more than self-care right now. This is actually kind of self-care, it makes me happier than anything– even though objectively it probably is not.

My best writing happens when I’ve laid down to sleep– so tired– and all of a sudden the words start going. And I’m writing in my head. And I have to get up. And it’s annoying, it’s really annoying because I want to go to fucking sleep. It’s almost like a meditative state. I wonder if it’s just because we’re letting our guard down…

Yeah, I think so. I really think so. And I think that’s why I’ve only really learned how to do it recently because I didn’t ever do that– I just didn’t have feelings. And then I went to therapy this year and I was like, “Oh my god, I have feelings.” And they hurt.

Yes!

Oh my god, this is what it’s like. It’s the worst, but it’s also great.

That ties into Antoinette’s experience of silence as a generative space. I feel like silence is the theme of all of these interviews.

It definitely is.

I wonder if, especially for women, it’s all about connecting to ourselves when we let our guard down.

I think it’s definitely some of that? I mean, it feels hard to be okay on a whole bunch of different levels. One being that like I just have this aversion to being like the cliche that men and society like to make me– like, “Women are emotional and in touch of their emotional selves.” And I hate being that. But also maybe without gender it’s just hard on a general level to be so introspective and to need that alone time. Because living in the world and relationships and getting things done require you to not be so introspective all the time. And I’m like thinking about what I’m going to do when this program ends, maybe staying here, maybe moving home, maybe moving somewhere else. Like the idea of moving home or even going home is hard for me because I don’t get quite as much alone time– obviously– as I do here because I live alone here. So I need that alone time. But it’s so hard to carve out that space around people that I love, not because they make me feel bad about it or not because they don’t allow me to do that, but because it feels alone. It feels like I need to not be around you, and I need to do this instead. And that feels somehow selfish.

This just makes me think about those articles or essays about female writers that say, “This female writer wrote this book when she was twenty-five. But then she got pregnant and raised a family. Imagine all of the books she could have written if she had had the time!” And then they compare it to Hemingway who wrote, like, a million books despite having children. It’s so gendered.

Being a female writer is really hard.

Because everyone calls it selfish.

When actually, it’s not? People think it’s selfish because you’re a female. It’s more nuanced than that.

It’s definitely– it just feels weird that it’s 2018 and that this is still a conversation.

Yeah, it’s sad. It’s really sad. But, a lot of the time– I was reading, I can’t remember where I was reading it, but it was something about Virginia Woolf. And the line was something like, “Well, she didn’t get married and have that family life because she gave herself fully to her art.” And I’m just like, by using the word “because”, you’re saying that it’s because she didn’t get married and have a family life that she could give herself to her art. It’s the idea that you can’t have it all as a woman.

Which is never the conversation surrounding male writers. I remember in college, that was the first time I encountered women who were just like, “No way. I’m not having kids.” And that just blew my mind.

But I think that’s what’s so powerful about having space on the page– it’s about choice.

It’s so liberating, it’s amazing.

It feels so small, and yet it’s so large. I mean, think about all of the choices we’ve been talking about– family, where to live, how to make money. Writing is such a simple choice to make– it doesn’t impact anybody else. Which, I guess is a feminized version of choice– making choices that don’t cause stress on anybody but yourself.

But it goes back to that thing that I was saying before. Like I can just make those choices now, even if other people aren’t going to be happy with them or uncomfortable with them or like or whatever. I feel like I’ve just reached that point where I’m just gonna do the things that I need to do because actually that’s more important than anything else, you know?

Wait, that’s a really good line.

Thanks. I mean, I’m a writer, so…

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