Writers on Writing: Glory Szabo
As a writer, I find it’s too easy to become so set in my ways (as far as writing style and techniques are concerned) that I forget how beneficial it is to learn from others. Hence my newest series on this blog, Writers on Writing. I plan to periodically (and pretty informally, I might add) interview writers I stumble upon in the blogosphere, innovative writers, writers with a distinctive style, voice or personality that piques my interest. And in conversing with them, see what writing–or life–advice they have to offer. First up is the illustrious Glory Szabo, creator of the decidedly literary blog I READ INTO THINGS. She’s the literary equivalent of a triple threat; funny, beautiful and one hell of a writer.
We’ll start with the quintessential about you questions: where are you from, where do you live, what do you do etc?
G: I am originally from Budapest, Hungary, but I have spent the past 8 years of my life in Virginia, in the United States. I moved to London, United Kingdom, two months ago and I absolutely adore it here.
I studied marketing at uni so for my day job, I work in digital PR, social media marketing, and copy and content writing and editing. To un-nerd these terms, I write stuff mostly online that makes people buy things… but I am working freelance so I am struggling to support myself. I guess it’s still a little more commercially viable way of being a writer -which I will have to go with as long as I don’t “make it” as a novelist. The only practical achievement my blog has accomplished so far is putting a major damper on my dating life 🙂
If you could choose one literary figure to paint the town red, share a cup of coffee and philosophical ideas, or cuddle up with, who would that be and why?
G: Well, a literary figure can be a writer or a character depending on your definition so I’ll answer the question both ways… I suppose if there is cuddling involved I would prefer the writer to be of the opposite sex although it still might be awkward especially upon first meeting. But umm… my favorite male novelist is Milan Kundera and my favorite male poet is Charles Bukowski so we’ll go with those two.
As far as fictional characters are concerned, probably the main character in my book -whom I made up. It’s weird because, you know, I have been single for the majority of my life and sometimes I think that I create these ideas of people that I fall in love with, and then I get disappointed when I find out that the person I am with is not the person that I thought he was, not the person in my head. When you make up something in a book, you know that it’s not real, so that’s nicer. But you still kinda hope that this ideal person exists in real life too… but I am going to stop talking now before I start sounding coocoo.
You give a brief description of your novel idea on your blog. Can you expound on that some?
G: Haha, yeah I think I kinda accidentally did that in the previous question but basically the book is about a guy who is a writer at the end of his rope, and he wants to write this novel before he kills himself -somewhat as his own eulogy or suicide note, if you will. So within the book, there are two different stories/layers of narrative: 1) the guy’s and 2) the girl’s in the novel that the guy is writing.
There is also another personal layer on my blog for a potential future autobiography but readers probably have a hard time distinguishing one from another because that is not the purpose of the blog… but will probably be a goal in the novel). Basically nowadays I spend a lot of time figuring out the narrative texture of my novel and how it is beautiful and how it makes sense.
I have been a little stuck on the technicalities -I haven’t talked about this much publicly so I guess this is an exclusive confession- and I think the reason why it takes so long to finish this book is because I have a hard time making my mind up which narrative will be in first and which will be in third person, and also if there should be another level of narrative (similarly to novels by Kundera, where the writer’s autobiography is also part of the book on a meta-level). I have been struggling with those aspects… I guess I just need to make up my mind instead of waiting for it to come to me like some revelation, which would be much nicer and closer to what I had in mind; but I guess you can’t always have what you want.
Your writing style intrigues me. It’s reminiscent of Louise Erdrich in Love Medicine, where disjointed parts make a fleshed out, cohesive whole. What made you choose this structure for your novel?
G:This is not necessarily the structure for my novel. But it is the structure for my blog. I just decided to use this out of laziness because it is not chronologically organized according to the plot but according to inspiration and when a thought comes to me I just write it down. My blog is more like a notebook and all my writing is like thought doodles for my novel. You might have noticed that I use two different type fonts: American Typewriter and Bell MT. This is for me to track which thought is suitable for the male and which one is more along the voice of the female character. Basically, by using this format, I made compiling my own notes for my novel according to the plot as difficult as I possibly could for myself without thinking about it up until when I started editing 🙂
Coffee or tea?
G: Coffeeeeee forever.
Best bit of writing advice you’ve ever received?
G: Oh goodness… I read a lot of literature on the subject and I am sure that there’s one that has profoundly changed my writing but I think the one bit of advice that I would like to pass on to anybody who reads this would be by Ralph Waldo Emerson, because this advice has chanced not only my writing but also my life in a profound manner, and it is this: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” For me, this is a guiding principle for my writing in this form “always write what you are afraid to write” and as a matter of fact, I conjured a motto for myself to go by when writing, which is “Art over dignity. Always.” I think if you want to be a writer you have to be brave enough to say the things that nobody wants to say but everybody wants to hear.
To read Glory Szabo’s inspired writing be sure to check out her blog I READ INTO THINGS. I often lose track of time when reading her work, as her voice is at once strong, sonorous and surprising.