Abigail Stewart on Pushing Beyond Your Own Juvenilia and Finding Something Unexpected

Abigail Stewart on Pushing Beyond Your Own Juvenilia and Finding Something Unexpected

An interview with Abigail Stewart from The Write Stuff series:

Abigail Stewart is a fiction writer from Berkeley, California. Originally from Houston, Texas, she studied Literature at Sam Houston State University before going on to earn an M.Ed. at Lamar University. Her short fiction has been published widely and The Drowned Woman (Whiskey Tit Books) is her first novel. Her short story collection, Assemblage, is forthcoming from Alien Buddha Press later this year.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?

When I quit teaching, I realized I no longer had an easy answer to this question, or at least not one that people immediately understood and could provide them quick context to my life and livelihood. Now, I tell people: I’m a writer, and attempt to do so with confidence and without additional qualifying statements.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

You don’t have to be perfect to try. Still, you should steel yourself against ‘no.’

What’s been most important to your writing: education, or the real world? Why?

Certainly the real world. Although my formal education was interesting, it didn’t provide the context necessary to push beyond my own juvenilia.

If you could give advice to your 15 year old self, what would it be?

Keep the blue Doc Martens and ditch the tanning bed.

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

Yes, I have managed to carve out a life for myself that allows me to live in a place I love, with a person I love, practicing my art.

Why do you get up every morning?

I get up early, even though I don’t like it, because I do enjoy the quiet routine of morning. I like to exercise, make some strong black tea, and have a conversation with my partner before we go about the business of the day.

Where do you go to find sanctuary?

I find sanctuary in reading and movement; between the alternating moments of stillness and activity my mind finds rest.

What’s your relationship to clothes?

Clothes are performance art.

What are you working on right now?

I am writing a collection of interconnected novellas.

If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?

I wish there was good Tex-Mex food.

A night on the town: what does that mean to you?

An ambling walkabout is my favorite sort of evening out. You start out with dinner and drinks somewhere medium fancy, then let the ambiance of the evening carry you outward. Maybe you find a reading, an art opening, cheap karaoke, or end up impulse buying an armload of used books that seemed like a good idea at the time. Ideally, you find something unexpected.

What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned?

No matter how much you may long for it, there are no do-overs. All you can do is push forward.

What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?

In fifty words I can paint you a picture, with fifty dollars I could be rich in happy hour oysters.

What are some of your favorite smells?

The moment right before it rains, night jasmine, coconut sunscreen, the sweaty crush at a concert, the sizzling onions and peppers accompanying street hotdogs afterwards.

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