As part of the launch of our Spring/Summer 2018 issue, Let Us Gather: Diversity and the Arts, we sat down with contributors to talk about their work in the issue and more. The following interview is part of this series. Please visit our website to see the complete list of contributors to Let Us Gather, to purchase the issue, or to subscribe.
Tell us a little about your work in Let Us Gather: Diversity and the Arts: what inspired it, how you came to write it, etc.
I started “The Rickies” when my daughter was 3 weeks old. It was the first time I was away from her. I snuck out to a coffee shop and I needed to be back in 90 minutes to nurse. Instead of feeling guilty or pressured, I just got down to it and wrote–having absolutely no plans or even knowledge of what I was about to write. What came was a younger voice, a so-not mom voice. It wasn’t guarded. It was weird and honest. I’m not sure if I wrote that piece because I needed a space free of spit up; or there’s freedom in sleep deprivation; or or if there’s some truth to birth being a trauma that can awaken the past for you. Heck, maybe I just missed my girlfriends. I’ve been part of a group of 4 best friends twice in my life and there’s a power to it. You don’t need to worry about what anyone else thinks. You might as well be your own town.
Do you have a favorite line, image, or scene from this work?
Besides the image of the Rickies living in the box of discarded thing under the bed, I really like “caterpillar soup.” Next time, you see a butterfly I want you to clap for it because it has gone through some hard work to get here. Would you eat yourself to transform? And this is no Jonas and the Whale scenario–you’ve got to digest yourself too.
You were a finalist in the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers, which means that this is one of your first pieces of published work in your genre. How long have you been writing, and what did being a finalist in the competition mean to you?
I’ve been writing since I was little kid and I even went to an arts high school where I got to spend two hours a day writing. I took a couple workshops in college, but I never revised. I just wrote and wrote. I actually didn’t write for a lot of my twenties because I was an immigrant rights advocate and that took a lot of my heart and my mind. But at a certain point, I realized I liked the world better when I was writing. It’s easier to find humanity, absurdity, and beauty in the world when you slow down to put things to the page. I was so fortunate to be able to take 3 years off from the real world to write stories and a novel in VCU’s MFA program. Now that I’m back to working full time, being a finalist just meant I took my full lunch hour and treated myself to a plate of chicken shawarma. But I totally plan on showing my kids my name in print.
What is your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
If you’re a writer with very little time, see what writing you can get done with one hour less sleep a day. But make sure to sleep too.
Tell us something fun, strange, or interesting about yourself. It can have to do with writing—or not!
I coach my four-year old daughter’s soccer team. When I was getting ready to coach, I told her some stories from my glory days and how I was nicknamed Killer and Terminator because I was a very tenacious defender. She lowered her voice and leaned in, “Mama, we better not tell the other kids that.”
Bonus tidbit: I work on sexual violence prevention at a college. Some students I work with recently suggested that they form a group of active bystander women and call them “The Angies.” They have no idea about this story, and something about that felt so full circle.
Sarah Curry earned a M.F.A. in fiction from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her fiction has received Honorable Mentions from The Masters Review and the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, and she was a finalist for the Center for Women Writers International Literary Award. She is at work on a novel. She lives in Kentucky with her children and husband, a mathematician.