All Write Already!

A Completely Unpretentious Literary Podcast

Episode 50 – Cristina Henríquez, Plus What’s the Price of a Writing Career?

March 4, 2015 by karenshimmin
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photo credit: Michael Lionstar

photo credit: Michael Lionstar

It’s our 50th episode! We’re celebrating by talking to Cristina Henríquez, author of the story collection Come Together, Fall Apart, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection, and the novels The Book of Unknown Americans and The World in Half. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Scholar, Glimmer Train, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, AGNI, and Oxford American, as well as in various anthologies. She lives in Illinois.

If you’re in Chicago, you can catch Cristina at the Chicago Humanities Festival in conversation with Coya Paz on March 18th.

We chatted with Cristina about why she is writing her next novel by hand, her badass grandfather, and writing on instinct.

Book of Unknown Americans coverIn Cristina’s words:

“You’re anticipating the reader’s objections and responses to certain things as you’re going along. That’s part of it, but it’s also that you’re making these minute decisions which are subconscious – I’m not stopping and thinking each time I write a new sentence – I’m making them based on instinct. But the instinct comes from years of reading… After you read a lot you start to get a sense for what you like and the directions that you like when a story moves, and then you’ll start doing that naturally when you write.”

Plus, we get the show started by talking about what a writing career actually costs. In a recent piece on Salon, writer Ann Bauer discusses her frustrations with writers who don’t acknowledge the luck and privilege that helped them to become successful. Bauer names the things that have allowed her to succeed (namely, that her husband supports her financially) and ends with a call for honesty in the literary scene. We ask ourselves why writers don’t want to acknowledge these advantages and think about the advantages in our own writing lives.

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