Allison Landa

Allison Landa on Loving Your Life Not in Spite of the Difficulties but Because of Them

An interview with Allison Landa from The Write Stuff series:

Allison Landa is a Berkeley, CA-based fiction and memoir writer who earned an MFA in creative writing from St. Mary’s College of California. A MacDowell Colony Fellow, she has also been awarded residencies by Writing by Writers, Playa Summer Lake, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and The Julia and David White Artists Colony. Allison teaches at The Writing Salon in the Bay Area and has performed on stages in San Francisco, New York, and Austin, Tex. Visit her online at

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

I write. I get up way too early. I drink a lot of coffee.

What’s your biggest struggle—work or otherwise?

I take everything too personally. If the wind rustles through the trees in a discordant way, I get all huffy. It’s a work in progress.

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

Get your butt in the chair and write. Then read. Then write some more. Understand that progress is not linear. Know that you will get rejections. Push forward not in spite of them, but because of them.

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

All of the above! Education is the real world; the real world is education.

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

Be exactly as you are. You’re innocent and silly. Enjoy it.

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

If success means loving your life not in spite of the difficulties but because of them, then yes, absolutely.

Why do you get up every morning?

Because I love my life not in spite of the difficulties but because of them.

What’s wrong with society today?

How much time have you got?

What is the relationship between your identity and your desires? Perhaps related, perhaps not: why is sex (un)important to you?

Sex is a carnal and emotional means of connecting. It’s an opportunity to get out of your head and into your body, which is crucial.

What’s your relationship to clothes? Or: describe the shoes you’re currently wearing.

What shoes?

What are some of your favorite smells?

Vanilla, coffee, jasmine, fresh-baked cookies. Basically, the same ones everyone else likes.

What are you unable to live without?

My family, my friends, the written word, my janky laptop, cafes … even though the latter has been off limits for nearly three months now. Laughter. Music. Something to fiddle with in Those Moments.