Marianne Rogoff on the Solid Oak Table and the Early Vote of Confidence

Marianne Rogoff on the Solid Oak Table and the Early Vote of Confidence

An interview with Marianne Rogoff, from The Write Stuff series:

Marianne Rogoff first felt the pleasure of writing when she read her fifth-grade class a story she wrote about her brother flying from a backyard maple tree with a self-made parachute, and the kids laughed! Her writing since then has evoked an equal mix of tears, questions, and reflection along with laughter as her life and travels have led to more global and complex experiences. Her books, essays, and stories explore nature, cities, art, music, love, grief, and the possibility of joy. Marianne enjoys reading, roaming, music, and movies. Her body likes to walk, swim, float vertical, sit still, do sun salutations, kiss, hug, and dance salsa. Links to her writing are found easily here.

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

I am a writer. Yes, published. And I teach college students how to write: creative writing, all kinds of essays, writing for artists. I also lead Studio-Workshop trips for writers to exotic locales, most often to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Have taught weeklong and weekend retreats in Palm Springs, San Francisco, Tomales Bay, and Inverness, plus ten days at a working finca in the hills north of Madrid in Spain. In June 2017 we are going to Porto, Portugal. If you would like to come, I would say, check out my website.

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

Enjoy the learning curve.

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

When I was in graduate school a professor told us not to expect to succeed because becoming a writer or professor were both highly difficult, competitive enterprises. I thought if a guy like him could do those things so could I, and better, and I have, so there, Mister Professor Whose Name I Have Forgotten. We succeed and then have to keep succeeding, each day with the writing, each course with new students, a lifelong practice of trial and error and failures amidst the successes.

When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?

I would tend to unplug and go for a walk somewhere along the water, over a mountain, or cobblestoned streets in a foreign city. If I must YouTube, I like laughing babies.

Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?

Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, Nancy Drew, The Beatles, Lois Lane: intrepid, adventurous, mischievous sleuths with a sense of humor and curiosity, who knew there is always more to the story than meets the eye.

Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.

I hiked Grand Canyon from North Rim to the bottom in new hiking boots and the blisters were uncountable. But I did it, all the way down and back up on foot: unforgettable, magical place. And there have been many more wild journeys, of course, including the wilderness of urban sites and domestic life.

How much money do you have in your checking account?

Exactly just enough

What is your fondest memory?

Phone call telling me my 30-page chapter won $10,000 Individual Artist Grant from Marin Arts Council and using the money to buy a solid, round, oak table to write on, travel to Baja, decide to get married, and fund our backyard wedding. (Though no longer married I still have the table and what I have written since that early vote of confidence.)

How many times do you fall in love each day?

A thousand

When you have sex, what are some of the things you like to do?


What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?

Peace on earth

What are you working on right now?

Short stories, flash fictions, old novel, new essays

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


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

Weekday Wanderlust at Hotel Rex; teaching summer night class at CCA-SF then meeting my son for late meal on Haight Street; rush-line movie at film festival; moonlight boat ride across the bay; martini conversation with intelligent stranger; salsa dancing on Sunday

What are the strangest things you’ve ever seen?

Leaping dolphins, diving pelicans, rows of swimming whales all at once at sunset offshore at Stinson Beach; millions of anchovies who missed the outgoing tide dying along the edge of Bolinas Lagoon; thousands of migrating monarch butterflies fluttering at the top of a grove of eucalyptus trees; Muir Woods giant redwoods; my newborn baby boy

What are some of your favorite smells?

Men, boys, lilacs, coffee, storms

If you got an all-expenses-paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?

Peace on earth

Here to read all The Write Stuff profiles; here to watch all the videos