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Author Q&A: Jody Keisner

Jody Portrait Pink BackgroundJody Keisner is the author of the essay Fisheye View, which appeared in our October 20915 issue. We connected with her about the writing process. Here are her answers.

What inspired you to write this essay?

The absurdity of the situation I found myself in: driving in the snow, panicky, with a bag of fish on my lap and my daughter in the backseat wondering what was going on. I wanted to explore why keeping those fish alive mattered so much to my sense of well-being.

What was the greatest challenge in writing it?

I did quite a bit of research for this essay, mostly by foot: I made several visits to two pet stores during the process so that I could get my fish-facts straight and accurately describe the various species.

How do your children inform your writing?

Even if I’m not writing directly about her, Lily is there, at the periphery (or center) of every essay that I write these days. It sounds cliche, but I look at the world differently because of her. Things scare, delight, fascinate, inform, and surprise me now in ways that, perhaps, they did when I was a child but that I’ve since forgotten. She helps me to remember. Recently, during a drive, she asked me if we were looking at sound-waves through our car windows. Were we? Were there ripples or vibrations visible to the naked eye? I’m re-seeing and re-thinking the world because of her.

How do you balance writing and motherhood/fatherhood?

I don’t! Often when I’m engaged in writing, I’m thinking about parenting. And vice versa. The great thing about parenting is that it forces you to root in the very moment that you’re standing in. This is also the hard thing about parenting, at least for me. I don’t have time to linger on emotions or contemplate when Lily wants me to be fully present. So instead I write notes everywhere–the back of a bill lying on the kitchen table, a scrap of paper Lily has colored on, in a book on my nightstand.

Do you share any of your writing with your children (if they are old enough of course)

Lily is four years-old, so I haven’t shared my writing with her. I do think, however, that I have to be careful to write my story and not hers. Of course she’ll be in my writing because she’s smack dab in the middle of my hours, my days, and my heart. But I anticipate that she’ll want to tell her own story someday.

Return to the October 2015 Issue

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