The downside of an unusually warm winter in New York City is that for every inch of snow you would have accumulated, you instead endure an equal amount of rain. The night of Sloane Crosley’s event at NYC’s School of Visual Arts was one of those cold-but-not-quite-freezing, unbearably drizzly evenings. Admittedly, if I hadn’t been working in-office with a client in Chelsea, there’s a great likelihood I wouldn’t have dragged myself out of the comfort of the indoors.
Despite the weather, public transit was running smoothly, and I arrived to the complex early. As I was signing in my “reason for visiting,” I glanced over my shoulder to see Sloane Crosley herself right behind me. Your name has two s’s and hers has one, I reminded myself. I turned around, extended my hand to her shoulder and nervously exclaimed, “I’m here to see you! And by the way, we happen to have the same last name, just spelled differently.” She glanced at the sign in sheet, turned back to me, and said, “Why yes we do!” As she signed in, I anxiously paced around the lobby, losing all memory of how to get myself to the third floor of a building. I ended up ascending the stairs with Sloane, assuming she knew where she was heading for her own event. She was immediately whisked off into another room to prep with her counterpart Adam Harrison Levy, and I waited outside until I was ushered in with the other attendees.
What started as an interview of sorts quickly evolved into a witty banter between two people who seemed like old friends. Over the course of the evening, Sloane spoke to an array of topics that appealed to writers and aspiring authors. Below is my account of Sloane’s responses.*
*Please note that the following account is based on notes complied during the event. They are not direct quotes from Sloane Crosley.
The Writing Process: I start with lots of cups of coffee, and I dress enough to escape in the event of a fire. Typically no music, but if I do it’s either classical or something with lyrics I know very well and can easily tune out or not pay much attention to. Living in NYC, I have enough extraneous noise from my neighbors! Sometimes I start to wander. If I do, I’ll print out a copy, write the pertinent things at the top – the theme or the timeline – then go through and highlight what sticks to those things. That’s what I keep.
Writing a Novel: It took three or four years to write The Clasp – you have to live with your characters and learn to see the world from their perspectives
Humor Writing: I want to tug at the heartstrings of my readers, and for me humor is the best way to do that. I believe the different types of humor people use tell everything about their character. People tend to gravitate toward and place greater value on content that is deep, like a drama. Comedic actresses or actors never win the Oscar. People think humor looks easy. Comedic individuals don’t get credit for addressing the same issues but in a humorous or more entertaining way.
The Significance of Objects: Objects are often associated with nostalgia. That’s the way my memory works. Without an object, I wonder if I’ll remember that moment or day. They also create a way into the story, an entry point. We’re not a society of Buddhists – we put a lot of weight on objects!
Collecting Details: I write about certain things because the details are already collected. What are nine objects of meaning to you? I bet you could think of twenty.
Confidence: Writers have the advantage of working in solitude or isolation. No one is there to see when you make mistakes. No one is watching while you write a million bad drafts alone in a room – you’ll figure it out in the editing process.
Why She Writes: I have a love of language. It’s also just how I see the world, how I know how to think about things.
Once the evening came to a close, the other attendees filtered into a nearby room for refreshments. I loitered as Sloane chatted with one of the event organizers, wanting to catch her before she left. I’d optimistically brought one of her books, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, in hopes she might sign it. I tried to be inconspicuous, casually fumbling in my purse yet knowing full well I’d deeply regret not mustering the courage to bother her for an autograph. Fortunately, an overly enthusiastic teacher from New Jersey who had also attended the event had no problem interrupting Sloane’s conversation and requesting a signature in her book. I seized the opportunity and successfully got her to sign mine as well. As I began to collect my things and brace myself for a cold-but-not-quite-freezing, unbearably drizzly walk to the subway, I couldn’t resist peeking at what Sloane had written – “Caitlyn, So nice to meet you! Best Wishes! Sloane Cros(s)ley”
To see Sloane at a future event on her tour, check out her website.