How Writing is Similar to Worship, Influenced by Place, and Inseparable from Reading

This is excerpted from my induction interview as a Professional Member of the Boulder Writers’ Workshop. 

What kinds of writing projects are you working on? 

Amy Segreti:  I’m constantly working on a myriad of things. When I was younger, I didn’t finish as much as I started; now, I’m getting better at doing my work and keeping commitments.

I work with clients on writing/editing projects, everything from press releases to book-length pieces, to private company branding and messaging. I started a print magazine of longform journalism on place, palate and pleasure in 2012, then moved it online. I also write a lot of narrative nonfiction and what I call “passion journalism”—I love writing in an inspired way, whether that’s about my life or about someone who is sharing their passion with me.

Whether I’m writing a news story, personal poetry, or a food and travel article, the purpose I strive for is to be the conduit for a genuine connection between my subject and readers.

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What do you like about being a writer in Colorado?

I came to live here through a serendipitous car accident in June 2007, in which my ex and I flipped over three times going 90 mph. We were both fine, and I don’t regret it one bit. It was how I found Boulder.

Boulder is my soul home—I can be all of myself here, every wacky, gratuitous, painful, electrified cell of me.

There is a quote I love by Stephen Elliott, founder of The Rumpus, “There is no new leaf; turn yourself over.” That is what Colorado did for me; it turned me over, literally, and in the most important ways a human can be.

Who or what are you reading right now? 

I’m glad I’m answering this now and not in 2013; I barely read anything substantial last year, shamefully. This year, I’ve made a focused effort to be more involved in literary circles.

I need to continue blossoming as a writer, and reading is the other half of my writing: it is the folded-over blanket, the curve of the body so different from the back than the front, but it is still the same body. I’m currently reading Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore, which I’m absolutely in love with and I must always read in the company of a luscious cappuccino.

My top three ever are: Self-Help by Lorrie Moore, Conscious Loving by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I dive into these again and again for inspiration, to help me think outside of the box, to remind me that I craft my own work and play, that I alone am responsible for guarding space for my creative life.

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What’s the best piece of writing advice you’d like to pass on?

Be aware of your Writer Life as an entity. Writing is a practice in the way that worship, yoga or religion can be. You can go to your place of worship or practice—you have the faith, you believe in the deity or guru. But, you also have to perform little rituals to keep the faith: put on your Sunday best, pray, meditate, do half-moon pose. These daily practices help you maintain the faith, the connection, the fire.

What do you hope to get out of [joining a literary circle/writer’s group]? 

I deeply want to connect with and be inspired by other writers in the community. I’m sure everyone says that, so I’ll add something else; I want to welcome this into my life so I can get more comfortable with my own writer self.

I want to give my inner writer a name, to talk to her, to nourish her. I believe that personifying the things that are sacred to us (or the things that scare us—interesting how “sacred” looks a lot like “scared”) is such a useful tool. This is part of me telling the universe, “I’m ready to step up my writer game. What do you have for me?”

Photo credits: (1: Rebecca Close) (2)

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