This is part of a series interviewing Society of Young Inklings’ mentors. This week we’re featuring Sarah Lyn Rogers.
Tell us two truths and a lie… but keep us guessing! We’ll save the reveal for the end.
- I don’t know how to swim.
- I met Guy Fieri at a concert.
- I lived in a Buddhist kingdom for a year.
What are you writing right now?
I always have a few poems I’m trying to work out, but my main project right now is a novel about a girl who falls in love with a local musician and artist who has recently died. More abstractly, it’s about loneliness, obsession, and finding community.
If you could put two books together to make the perfect book for you, what would they be?
Oh! I don’t know that this would actually sustain me forever on a desert island, but right now my answer is Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle smashed together with the Voynich manuscript. The former is a collection of essays about writing poetry and they are beautifully written and include a bunch of fascinating random factoids about life and art and language. The latter is a mysterious 15th-century book filled with bizarre illustrations of plants and stars and people. It’s written in a language or code that no one has been able to decipher.
What do you do when you get stuck creatively?
Whenever I get stuck, I take a break from my current project to work on something else, and to read. For the novel I’m still tinkering with, I stopped after I had written the first few chapters. Something about it wasn’t working, but I didn’t know what until I could step back for a couple of weeks and see it again with fresh eyes. The problem? I had written the whole thing in third person point of view (“She said this,” “She did this,” etc.), but my main character is shy. I wanted to show a difference between what she says and does on the outside compared to the rich, noisy interior world she doesn’t show anyone. Writing in third person POV didn’t make much sense for this purpose. I rewrote it in first person (“I said this,” “I did this,” “I secretly thought this,” etc.) and feel that it works much better this way. Reading other books written in first person POV reminded me that readers can feel really close to a main character who shares all of their thoughts with them.
Tell us about a mentor who made a difference in your creative life.
One of my writing mentors is the poet Sally Ashton. She was my professor at San José State and she wrote encouraging feedback on some of my early poems I wrote for her class. We’ve stayed in touch over the years and I’ve even been published in her literary journal, DMQ Review. Sally’s encouragement means the world to me.
What is your favorite color?
Right now it’s teal. It is often red.
What was your first job?
My first job was babysitting. For my first job where I was given a paycheck instead of a handful of dollars, I worked as an assistant for a community musical theatre program. Sometimes, when I supervised young actors backstage, this was a lot like babysitting. But I also helped to build and paint the set, teach vocal parts, run the lights and sound during shows, and facilitate games and warm-ups.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved (and still love) the Harry Potter series, but a singular favorite for a long time was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I’d heard different versions of the Cinderella story before (and of course seen the Disney movie). I love how Levine’s version gives a reason why Ella is so obedient, and shows us how this obedience is at odds with her clever spitfire spirit.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to go to concerts. Many of my friends are musicians and I enjoy seeing them play live. I also go to bigger venues to see music by not-my-friends. Some of my favorites are John Mayer, Tegan and Sara, and Angel Olsen.
So, which was the lie?
I really do know how to swim!
Are you interested in mentorship through Society of Young Inklings? Click below to learn more! We offer a free mini-course that explains our teaching methodology as well as a free introductory call with our Mentorship Coordinator.