Monday, April 10, 2017

Where Writers Write: Jill McCroskey Coupe

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a weekly series that will feature a different author every Wednesday as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Jill McCroskey Coupe

A former librarian at Johns Hopkins University, Jill McCroskey Coupe has an MFA in Fiction from Warren Wilson College. She grew up in Knoxville and now lives in Baltimore. 

Jill's debut novel, TRUE STORIES AT THE SMOKY VIEW, is refreshingly unconventional—a novel primarily about family and friendship that includes a search for justice, a story of Pinochet and international politics, and an attempt to challenge tyranny in all its guises.

Where Jill McCroskey Coupe Writes

Even though my computer resides on the desk in my guest room, I welcome overnight guests. During their visit I won’t be able to write, it’s true. (I don’t have a laptop.) But before their arrival, I’ll have cleared all papers, folders, books, etc., off the bed. I’ll have organized the clutter, recycling what I no longer need and filing away what is still useful. I’ll have cleaned off my desk and be feeling unusually virtuous.

There’s a bookcase beside my desk, but somehow it seems so much easier to spin around in my chair and park a book on the bed rather than reshelve it. (And I used to be a librarian.) Yes, many reference books are online now, and hooray for that! Still, I like to turn pages. Roget’s Thesaurus, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, The Reader’s Encyclopedia (the older, hardback version), and my trusty American Heritage Desk Dictionary have all napped together on the bed. I know l can pull up calendars for different years online, but the perpetual calendar in The New York Public Library Desk Reference is just so cool! And The Chicago Manual of Style is an absolute necessity. Also within reach are The Art of Fiction, by John Gardner, the first person to encourage me in my writing, and The Lie That Tells a Truth, by John Dufresne, in whose workshop my recently published novel, True Stories at the Smoky View, was discussed. Two esteemed writers with similar careers and eerily similar hairstyles.  

A crucial part of my writing takes place away from my computer. What I’ve composed online, and then revised and revised again, will benefit, I’ve learned, from a different sort of read-through. So I print out my pages and take them into the living room. There, seated in my great-grandfather’s rocking chair, I see sentences that need to be reworded or deleted altogether. I notice that a character’s eyes have changed from blue to green. If I’m lucky, I find solutions to problems I hadn’t even known existed.

I then return to the guest room and make these changes. Print the dang thing out again and return to the rocking chair.

Repeat. And repeat again. 

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