Elissa Washuta on Tweeting Her Way to Her Voice
In Conversation with Brad Listi on Otherppl
Elissa Washuta is the guest. Her new essay collection, White Magic, is out now from Tin House.
From the episode:
Elissa: The structure was exactly what I wanted, with no really significant concerns about will this sell or not. And even more so than that, I really put a lot of work into getting the voice to sound like me, rather than trying to make it sound like a voice of a memoir. That was a lot of work. It required a lot of stripping down my prose.
Brad: I was going to ask specifically, what do you do to sound more like yourself?
Elissa: Well, I tweet. I realized this a couple of years ago that, you know, I don’t write every day. Just because of the demands of my job and what writing requires of me, I just don’t write every day, or even every week sometimes. But I do tweet just about every day. And I realized that I was putting a lot of work into voice in those little—what is it? Like 140 characters or more now, I don’t remember. But I was trying to sound exactly like myself consistently, and I think that was a really good exercise in distilling the essence of how I sound—trying to be myself online, trying to be myself in person, trying to be myself on the page. I wanted to be myself everywhere because I was so sick of persona in my writing.
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Elissa Washuta is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a nonfiction writer. She is the author of Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules, named a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. With Theresa Warburton, she is co-editor of the anthology Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the Ohio State University.