A Delicious Debut

I recently chatted with Linda Anger about her fresh off the press debut collection of poetry and stories Sweeping the Floor at the Full Crumb Cafe.

Some of these poems and stories of the women who pass through The Full Crumb Cafe have language so gripping, words and ideas so remarkable, that the reader can rest in their comfort even as the tension of the piece moves through them. Part bright fantasy, with splashes of terror and the possibility of freedom, this solid collection rests on the final, triumphant story of Cindy, the girl who never had a chance but made one for herself out of sheer determination. Is this collection a caper or a cautionary tale? I’d say in Anger’s capable hands, it is both, and more.

You can read my full review of Linda’s collection on Amazon and Goodreads. Meanwhile, here’s what she had to say to my burning questions about poetry, stories, and the writing life: 

Cindy: When did you write your first poem?

2014 LindaLinda: 1960. I was nine years old. It was rhymed and childish, of course – something about horses. More often than not, though, I wrote short stories when I was a child. It wasn’t until I was in high school and took my first creative writing course that I began to be serious about poetry.
Cindy: Do you write/work on petty daily or consistently or is it something you need to feel inspired?
Linda: Both.  I make my living writing for others – blog posts, magazine articles, websites. For those, I am very disciplined and consistent. My poetry and fiction is a bit different. I do write every day, but it is not always a “moving forward” process. Some days I don’t work on a poem or a story, but spend time mapping out concepts I want to explore.
There are the moments of inspiration, of course, and I have pulled to the side of the road to write down a phrase or a story idea more than once in the last ten years, or forced myself out of bed in the middle of the night to copy down a conversation some characters decided to have while I was sleeping! Once those “inspired” thoughts are on paper, they may simmer in my internal cauldron for hours or weeks before I sit down to write seriously.
One poem – “Wallpapering,” which is in “Sweeping the Floors in the Full Crumb Cafe” started out as a 7-page, handwritten rant. Seven months later, after tinkering with it almost every day, I put down my pen, stood up to read it out loud to myself, and realized it was done.
Cindy: Talk more about how the short stories fit into your writing life.
Linda: Short stories were, in my mind, my strong point as a writer of fiction. I still believe that, but find that when I share my shorts with my critique partners, they all want me to keep going – they want novels based on the shorts. So I have two novels in the works right now, and I flip back and forth between them, as well as continuing to write shorts on a regular basis. I’m also in the midst of writing a manuscript that is a series of shorts that relate to each other but are complete stories in their own rights.
Cindy: You also write for others as a business. What’s that like? Does it help or hurt or have no influence at all on your creative writing?
Linda: I think the work I do through my business – The Write Concept, Inc., brings huge benefit to my creative work, and my creative work makes a huge difference in my business writing. Ghostwriting – whether it is a complete manuscript or a single blog post – requires me to listen intensely to the language, cadence, and intent of the people I ghost. This comes in really handy in writing believable dialogue! I love my business work – every day is different, every project is different, there is nothing “routine” about my work life, and that is, I believe, part of the reason I can also be successful in my creative work.

Thanks, Linda! Readers can check out Linda’s website and take a look at her Book Launch page, too.

#1 Fear Banished

098Among my many phobias, I’ve conquered only one. But it’s a biggie. The #1 ranked fear shared by so many: fear of public speaking. I hated presenting in college and high school, suffered through speech classes, shuddered to even introduce myself in a group.

That’s why I’m a writer. I work alone, communicate easily online, love my blog, am addicted to Twitter. The first time I walked into a classroom and realized that I had to actually talk to these people, I wanted to turn around and run back out. What was I thinking?

I was thinking a degree or two in English would be fun: lots of reading and writing, my favorite things. And I could teach, which to me seemed like discussing exactly what I loved. Ha. I was in denial about the “talking” part, and to this day I work really hard to get my students to do most of the talking in class.

xmas 09 001When I published my first book in 2007, I realized I needed to promote it at least a little bit. I had 1,000 copies in my closet that were not going to move themselves.

I arranged to give a two-part talk at my local library, and I only got through it because I took a pill that many actors and musicians use to stop the fear of public performance. I felt energized on that stage with a room full of people who had come to hear me. This was a very different audience from a room full of teenagers forced to read poetry and novels. I liked those talks and wished I could feel that way without meds.

Duty done, I went back to routinely refusing all offers to speak about my books. I read one poem at a writer’s function, because it won a prize and they paid me. When the hostess asked me to read the longer piece, which had also won, I declined. The poem was hard enough!

Just last week I was invited to read a poem or short bit of prose with a group of writers and I declined, automatically. And then I remembered: I wasn’t afraid to speak in pubic anymore. Magically, that fear had evaporated.

It happened at a workshop called “Public Speaking for Writers” facilitated by The Write Concept‘s Linda Anger (pronounced Ahn-Jay). Sounded like something I needed, so I signed on. Right away she had us warming up with partners in preparation to speak in front of the group. I am fine one-on-one but was dreading the going to the front of the room and claiming the floor part.

I walked to my doom, clutching the notes I’d taken. And suddenly, something lifted. I felt it. I was as comfortable as if I were in the last weeks of a semester with a great, engaged class. I was having fun. I loved it.

So, maybe teaching for many years helped, maybe Linda has some kind of magic not in pill form, probably both. I don’t think it was a coincidence that my life-long fear of public speaking vanished at the moment I stood in front of Linda’s DWW workshop. I think, between the two of us, we banished it.