Meet Eileen Pollack

Editor’s Note: All this week we’ll continue posting micro-portraits and/or interesting news about this year’s 2013 presenters at The State of the Book Literary Symposium, which will take place in Ann Arbor on Saturday, September 28, in Rackham Auditorium. All events are free and open to the public. Thank you!

Eileen Pollack. Photograph by Nina Hauser

Eileen Pollack–brilliant author, sage writing professor, and State of the Book presenter, spoke to me about  her writing rituals, the universe, and the rewards of passion.

On getting to work: I get to my desk early every morning, then ease myself into writing by reading my email, perusing Facebook, reading the New York Times online, and AnnArbor.com. Then I get really serious and play computer solitaire. My rule is that after I’ve won one game, I have to start writing. Unless I don’t feel like it yet, which means I get to play another round of solitaire until I win. But then, really and truly, I do start writing. 

On staying inspired: What inspires me? Reading a metaphor I wish I’d written. Remembering the details of a place that’s rich in meaning for me. Fear that I’ll die without having published anything that makes anyone remember me after I die. Also: reading about the origins of the universe (or universes), what goes on all around us at the quantum small level, the possibility that there are really ten or eleven dimensions to reality instead of only the four we can experience. 

On the challenges and joys of writing Breaking and Entering: The most challenging part of writing Breaking and Entering was making sure that the Militia guys didn’t come out as caricatures and the liberal New Yorkers as saints. Also, getting the alternating points of view right. The most rewarding parts were writing about sexual passion. And getting the damn book published!

Read Eileen’s most recent Ploughshares piece, a daring, funny, and wise non-fiction essay, here.