— Before I Wrote: A Collage Of Former Selves | Beyond The Margins
On self-sabotage and writing, by Robin Black. Very intense and important read for me.
I interviewed, and was interviewed by, my friend Jamie.
Interviewed by Sarah Seltzer
J.E. Reich is a young writer who—in my humble opinion—produces work that combines soul and erudition, wide-ranging imagination and fearlessly unadorned reality.
We met in Ehud Havazelet’s workshop at the Yiddish Book Center, and since we’ve both returned to NYC to try and live authentic writing lives she’s become a mentee and mentor, social media buddy, Jewish daughter stand-in (are you packing a sweater J.E? Pack a sweater!) and inspiration.
Don’t miss her stunning story “London, 1973” in the latest issue of fwriction : review.
So J.E., I have read, with pleasure, the opening of your novel To Build A New World, which takes place in the present day, but this excerpt takes us back in time to a new voice and perspective, Emil’s. How do you get yourself in his headspace?
Well, I have a strange headspace to begin with, so that partly aids it, I suppose. I would say that there are two halves of this process. Part of it has to do with a voice that I can hear in my head, and then transcribing it on the page. Sometimes I read aloud to myself to get the nuance and cadence of voice just so, to get it to sound as authentic as possible. And the second half is just constant tinkering with the way it reads on the page. For instance, Emil is more of a rambler, so his sentences will obviously be longer, riddled with commas and pauses. Mischa, the narrator at the beginning of the novel in the present day, is an approximation of the way we speak now. A little curter, and a little more lost. So basically, what I’m trying to say is that a large portion of my novel-writing time is spent talking to myself like an old Jewish European man.