My interview with Ingrid Rojas Contreras is up at CRAFT, where I interviewed her as judge for our current Creative Nonfiction Contest. She is a finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction, and it just so happens that the winners were announced on Wednesday night, and since the CRAFT EIC Courtney Harler and I were corresponding about something while we watched at home we did some realtime back and forth while the suspense built. I would have loved to see Ingrid win for her amazing memoir THE MAN WHO COULD MOVE CLOUDS, but when Imani Perry won she gave a gorgeous speech and now I want to read her book too.
Organizing my WIP THE LUNATICS' BALL has been so difficult, and I have often wished I'd started with a plan, instead of trying to create one after so much was written. I particularly appreciated Ingrid's insights on planning and structure, as her memoir is long and extremely complex: “One of the things I’ve learned about structuring a book is that we tend to want solid answers too early. I’ve also learned that the creativity of our subconscious mind is much more interesting than anything we can come up with analytically. For this reason, I am not the type of writer to come up with a plan before writing. I like to show up to the page and sort of walk into the dark cave of what I am writing, discovering what is interesting about it as I go.…. My advice to any writer is to lean into the counterintuitive space of not-knowing. It’s uncomfortable, but each time I’ve allowed myself to be lost in the woods of discovery, the results have been more surprising and creative than anything I can come up with intentionally.”
I'm so glad I suggested Ingrid for our contest, as I think she's just perfect and will stretch the boundaries of creative nonfiction in all the right ways.
I'll be introducing Myna Chang, a flash writer I love, at CRAFT's first-ever salon the week after next, where Ingrid will be our featured reader. Register on our Submittable page if you want to attend (November 30, 4pm PST, 7pm EST). Just click that link as if you were submitting something and you'll get a return email with the Zoom info. Don't worry about the tip jar. It's free.