This week we talk to Lee Kofman about ‘Permanence’ which appears in Time, the latest Microlit anthology edited by Cassandra Atherton and published in 2018 by Spineless Wonders. In this interview, Lee talks about her approach to writing microlit, what she is reading right now and her favourite time of year for putting pen to paper
- Tell us about the inspiration behind your microlit for the Time anthology.
I wrote that piece while I was going through my second divorce and while it wasn’t a (tiny) memoir, it was an expression of some of the feelings I had then about the state of modern romance and the world at large too. I must say it’s quite unusual for me to write during a personal crisis, I’m much more productive when I’m settled, but if I do it usually comes in this semi-poetic form.
- When it comes to microlit, do you generally start wide and then cut down or do you always plan to write a particular piece as microlit?
I don’t plan nor do I start wide. Unlike with my longer works that usually live in some parts of my consciousness, and the unconscious too, for some time before I know it’s time to let them out, and then they come out in manymanymany words (at least a third of those words usually goes by the time I finished the work), microlit and poetry just somehow descend on me. I know this sounds pretentious, but the image I have in my head when I think of this process is that of a bird of prey. Something strong just hits me over the head, briefly, and it’s all out there. I never begin a microlit piece, then later return to it to complete or re-draft. While with my longer works I’m an obsessive re-drafter, my microlit usually only requires a bit of tidying up which I tend to do as soon as I write it. If I work at it for too long, or leave it unattended for too long, somehow these pieces tend to lose theirs shape and, more importantly, emotional urgency.
- How do you balance reading time with writing time? And tell us about the book/s you are reading at the moment.
For me the two are inseparable. I see reading as part of my writing process, so give them both an equal weight time-wise. And while I am writing a long work, as I am doing right now, I am very careful with my choices of reading. They all must, in different ways, feed into what I’m doing, or at the very least not interfere with it. The book I’m currently writing is a creative nonfiction work exploring how our appearance can influence our lives. I’m almost done with the research part of it and now that I’m writing in the interviews I conducted, I find myself reading a lot of so-called literary journalism to sharpen my craft, but also for inspiration – to enrich myself with voices of masters of my chosen genre. For these two purposes I’m currently reading Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote where he introduces readers to a series of fascinating characters he’d stumbled upon – an ageing aristocrat, Marilyn Monroe, a notorious killer. I’m drinking his wondrous prose in and trying to learn from his superb dialogue writing how to bring my own interviewees to life.
- What is your favourite season? Do you prefer to write in winter or summer and why?
My favourite seasons are the mild ones – autumn and spring – even though in my personal and writerly lives I want to believe I’m anything but a mild person. I
write all year around, so don’t have anything particularly intelligent to say on this topic apart from the most banal remark that of course in summer the outside world is more likely to tempt me out of my writing dungeon…
LEE KOFMAN is the author of four books, including the memoir The Dangerous Bride, and co-editor of Rebellious Daughters. Her next two books of creative nonfiction (via Affirm Press and Ventura Press) will be out in 2019.
You can listen to ‘Permanence’ narrated by actor, Whitney Richards and discussed by Emma and Ali on Coffee Podcast, here.