Happy Monday! We’re kicking off our week with this discussion with Steve Mitchell, author of the short story collection The Naming of Ghosts. Steve talks to Press 53 about writing, inspiration, and cow birthing, below.
P53: What was the last thing to inspire you?
SM: There’s this: http://sigur-ros.co.uk/valtari/videos/solace-floria/
While the video could be seen as pretentious, there are a thousand revelations in the face of John Hawkes.
The thing that inspires me most is that individual people have hope. Not a blank faith or nodding acceptance, but a visionary, constructive energy that demands they create.
P53: What is your favorite color and why?
SM: There’s a certain blue, it’s a dimensional blue, as if a deep blue were filtered with an airy white and charged with a jolt of electricity. It has a depth to it, a sense of space, and it’s very hard to come by.
But the easy answer is purple. I’m pretty sure due to early exposure to Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon.
P53: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
SM: I was in love with books from the beginning. They held secrets about the world I couldn’t immediately see. There was something sacred about it all from the start. And I wrote from an early age but, at some point I had to walk away from it and for years and years I didn’t write at all.
Once I began again, it seemed the writing was very important and the idea of ‘being a writer’ much less so. This is a sort of cycle I recognize in myself: that I have to walk away and re-approach to find my own way.
P53: How do you deal with writer’s block?
SM: I think writing seriously requires a ruthless patience because each piece has its own rhythm of coming into being. I don’t have as much control over that as I’d like to think I do. Some pieces take time, a lot of it; some require life events to bring a part of the puzzle. They often require waiting, boring, bus-station-without-a-book kinds of waiting. And waiting can be incredibly frustrating if you don’t feel you have enough time to begin with; a state I find epidemic among most writers.
I tend to have a number of projects going at once in various stages and dabble in other media. This helps, but nothing really makes it less painful to wait and wait and wait as the minutes tick by.
P53: What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?
SM: Leos Carax’s Holy Motors. I’ve always been a fan of his films and was excited about this one. I was not disappointed. It’s wonderful, beautiful, confusing, confounding: what more could I want?
Three Facts About Steve:
1. I was once a birthing coach for a cow.
2. In high school I was editor of a student newspaper called The Daily Fish, which was neither daily nor fish related.
3. Sriracha is my favorite vegetable.