Melanie Sevcenko, Creator of I STILL GO TO BED WITH WATER, Answers a Few Questions About Being a Writer
If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
Off the top of my head, Rainier Maria Rilke. He’s one of my favorite poets of all time, though I’m certainly aware of how strange this could get… maybe he’d offer advice to the tune of “Letters to a Young Poet”... but more likely I could practice my German and blow his mind with Impossible (fake meat) schnitzel.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Hanif Abdurraqib is certainly up there on my list. A poet, essayist and cultural critic, his latest book “A Little Devil in America: Notes on Black Performance” took my breath away. It’s crushingly fervent, poignant, and essential. I think his prose is the closest anyone has ever gotten to conveying how it feels to live inside a movement or a song.
What books are on your nightstand?
I’ve got Adrienne Rich’s “The Dream of a Common Language,” TV writer Michael Schur’s book “How to Be Perfect,” which is basically a humorous and rudimentary guide to moral philosophy, and my e-reader is open to Joan Didion’s essay “Where the Kissing Never Stops” about Joan Biaz.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
From my memory I likely read all the books that were assigned, but I do remember skimming the whole way through “The Great Gatsby.” I felt it had little to do with what I was interested in or how I viewed life and the world around me at that time. And this line: “The more in tune with the times we were, the more we drank, and none of us contributed anything new” is brilliant, but I think is only found in that awful Baz Luhrmann remake. Go figure.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
Office supplies of all kinds. Or maybe the wine section at the Grocery Outlet.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It certainly does both. Similar to exercise, there’s the initial dread and exhaustion, just coming to terms with starting the process. But once you get going, and drain the muck from the taps, it feels incredibly rewarding to create something, no matter the volume… then onto the fun stuff, like getting out of your head and being with people.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
True crime podcasts and streaming content.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
I think I live in block form… and then only sometimes do I melt a little and the goods run off and onto the page.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I suppose my first trip to Europe, solo, as a 24-year-old. I farmed in the Pyrenees, connected with relatives I’d never met before in Ireland, and eventually found my home in Berlin. I’m still mining those experiences for my writing.
What does literary success look like to you?
Not having to work a day job; acquiring a large stone house somewhere on the Mediterranean and hosting a writing residency for people of all backgrounds; cooking together and sipping wine in the heat of summer nights; thinking, sketching, scribbling into the next day.
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