Writing Advice from Ottessa Moshfegh–STAY NUDE!
New York Times Bestselling Author Ottessa Moshfegh was at Interabang Bookstore in Dallas last night promoting her new book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which is number 15 this week, and when she signed my book, she offered me encouragement to keep writing and to “Stay Nude!”
Now you’re obviously wondering what in the world this could mean. Let me explain.
During Q&A with Interabang‘s book club master Lori Feathers, the audience was given a chance to ask Ottessa questions. When it came my turn, I had a special question in mind.
You see I recently read Ottessa’s first book Eileen with great interest. It is quite an odd book, with a deeply puzzling protagonist. The woman, Eileen, is troubled, there are few kinder words to offer.
In the writing program at Southern Methodist University, The Writer’s Path, the director of the program, Suzanne Frank, often told us that writers often bare their souls in novels. That we transform large parts of ourselves into our protagonists when we write. Suzanne has called it, “Full frontal nudity of the soul.”
And so, my question to Ottessa Moshfegh was simple. Between Eileen and the protagonist in her new book, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, how much of what we’re reading is “Full frontal nudity of her soul.”
She didn’t even reflect very much before she blurted out the answer: “You’re definitely getting some side boob action.”
So when time came for Ottessa to sign my book, we talked about writing styles. She knows I’m a writer as well. I’ve even sent off a query to Bill Clegg at The Clegg Agency and I’m waiting for an answer. The conversation was fun. I enjoyed meeting her, we said our farewells and I walked away happy to have met her.
When I got to my car, I opened the book out of curiosity to see how she had signed it. “To Donny, best of luck with your writing. Stay nude! Ottessa Moshfegh.”
She understood my question in a much deeper sense than she’d allowed in her answer. I’m reading Peter Carey’s A Long Way From Home at present but hope to start My Year of Rest and Relaxation before the weekend starts.
And of course, do some writing. I have a new mantra for when I’m in front of my typewriter making the magic flow onto the page. STAY NUDE! Thanks, Ottessa for the encouragement. You do the same, though I don’t think you’ve had any problem.