SEVEN QUESTIONS FOR THE WORKING WRITER: SOPHIE ROSENBLUM
Sophie Rosenblum is the associate editor at NANO Fiction. Her fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, American Short Fiction, New Letters, Flash: The International Short Story Magazine, Matchbook, The Fourth River, New South, Wigleaf, Cousin Corinne’s Reminder, The Newport Review, Dossier Journal, Smokelong Quarterly, New World Writing, The Avery Anthology, and Fast Forward Anthologies Volumes III and IV. Her nonfiction has been published in Fast Company, The Houston Press, The Daily Meal, Spoon Magazine, The Dallas Observer, and The Cleveland Scene, among others. You can find Rosenblum at sophierosenblum.com or on Twitter.
Sophie Rosenblum! Do you ever publish your work without compensation or for a nominal fee? If so, why, and how do you feel about doing it?
I do. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, the idea that something I’ve spent time working on, something I have crafted and cared for, that is then published and (hopefully) enjoyed by readers, does not somehow end up helping me to pay for part of my life in order to continue to write is somewhat disheartening. On the other hand, there are many literary journals—especially places that focus on flash fiction—that can’t (yet) afford to pay writers. As someone who works for a literary journal, I know how much time and effort people who work on journals put into choosing and publicizing the writing that they publish, and that certainly makes it feel worthwhile. Clearly, it’s very important to be part of the larger dialogue that is happening in the writing world, and often, being published in a place that can’t yet pay will lead to being published in a place that can. At NANO Fiction, we’ve just begun to be able to pay writers, and it certainly makes us feel better about publishing the work.
Does your craft alone provide you with a livelihood?
In a way. Like many writers, I teach. I’m lucky not only that I have found opportunities to work at universities but that I really love teaching. Thankfully, I learn so much from my students that my teaching has become a large part of my craft.
If you have to hold a day job to supplement your income, or just make a living at all, does it leave you enough time to write?
It does. I write each morning alongside my husband, who is a poet, and then I spend my larger chunks of free time writing by myself.
How do you know for sure when something in your work still needs another revision?
I think pretty much everything could use another revision. Often two. Or ten. When it comes to my own work, I read everything I write out loud. I look for sound. I look for pacing. I read it out loud, and I look at my husband’s face. If he is smiling or crying, then I think, “I must be close.”
When revising something in your work, how do you know for sure when it’s truly time to stop?
It feels as if it’s time to stop when I read it over and over again without finding myself in any way bored.
Do you feel that being a writer was a choice or a calling for you?
I started writing because it was cathartic. I wrote down each and every feeling, every thought, every anger and joy. I made them into stories. At this point, having dealt with some of the issues I was initially writing about, it feels—happily—like a choice.
BONUS ROUND FOR PURE PLEASURE: What book did you probably read too young and it therefore haunted you forever after?
This is perhaps my favorite question I’ve ever been asked. I have a list: Crazy Days by Ed Leander, Ben’s Dream by Chris Von Allsburg, and Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak. Although these are children’s books, they all terrified me as a child so, of course, I was obsessed with them. It still scares me just to see the titles.