Would You Rather
Would you rather start every sentence in your book with ‘And’ or end every sentence with ‘but’?
I’d rather start every sentence with “But” and end every sentence with “and.”
Would you rather write in an isolated cabin that was infested with spiders or in a noisy coffee shop with bad musak?
Noisy coffee shop. Because coffee.
Would you rather think in a language you could understand but write in one you couldn’t read, or think in a language you couldn’t understand but write in one you could read?
Um, wow. That’s so complicated I feel like you write in a language I can’t understand or read. Maybe the first one? How could I think in a language I don’t understand? Maybe I do, and that’s why people look at me funny.
Would you rather write the best book of your career and never publish it or publish a bunch of books that leave you feeling unsatisfied?
I’d rather write something excellent and put it away, yeah. That one.
Would you rather have everything you think automatically appear on your Twitter feed or have a voice in your head narrate your every move?
I kinda have the voice narrating my every move already. But oh god, no, not my thoughts on a Twitter feed!
Would you rather your books be bound and covered with human skin or made out of tissue paper?
Yuck. Tissue please. Next question!
Would you rather read naked in front of a packed room or have no one show up to your reading?
That’s already happened. The second one, I mean. The very first reading I ever gave was for my novel Seeing Dell. I drove from Bloomington, Indiana to Chicago. Not one person showed up. But the bookstore owner was amazing. She sat me down and told me to buck up. Gave me some tips for promoting my work, but mostly just said, “Get used to it.” I had a crush on her for years.
Would you rather your book incite the world’s largest riot or be used as tinder in everyone’s fireplace?
This makes me too deeply depressed to answer.
Would you rather give up your computer or pens and paper?
Pens and paper. Easy one!
Would you rather have every word of your favorite novel tattooed on your skin or always playing as an audio in the background for the rest of your life?
How about every word etched in frosting on cookies that I get to eat for the rest of my life?
Would you rather meet your favorite author and have them turn out to be a total jerkwad or hate a book written by an author you are really close to?
Um, both of these things have already happened. My biggest fear is that someone will feel this way about me.
Would you rather your book have an awesome title with a really ugly cover or an awesome cover with a really bad title?
Since I invent the titles but not the covers, this is rough. Of course I don’t want to write a bad title for my own book. But some of my books have ugly covers, and that breaks my heart. I feel divorced from those books, unfortunately.
Would you rather write beautiful prose with no point or write the perfect story badly?
Ohhhhhh I’m so on the Stein side of this question. Of course beautiful prose with no point. Of course.
Would you rather write only embarrassingly truthful essays or write nothing at all?
Would you rather your book become an instant best seller that burns out quickly and is forgotten forever or be met with mediocre criticism but continue to sell well after you’re gone?
Door #2, but really, door #3.
Carol Guess is the author of fifteen books of poetry and prose, including Darling Endangered, Doll Studies: Forensics, and Tinderbox Lawn. In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. Her most recent book, With Animal, was co-written with Kelly Magee and published by Black Lawrence Press in 2015. She teaches in the MFA program at Western Washington University.