Sunday, March 13, 2011

Author Insides - Mitchell Waldman

Mitchell Waldman’s fiction and poetry has appeared in numerous publications, such as Wind Magazine, Moronic Ox Literary Journal, Five Fishes Journal, The HazMat Review, Innisfree, Poetpourri, The Advocate, Mobius, The Parnassus Literary Journal, Desperate Act, Poetry Motel, Poetic Hours, Bold Print, Woven Worlds, Long Story Short, Rochester Shorts, and in the anthologies, "Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust", and "Messages from the Universe". He is also the author of the novel, "A Face in the Moon", and co-edited with his partner, Diana, the anthology "Wounds of War: Poets for Peace".

Mitchell's short story, "The Ring," appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of TBS

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I've pretty much always known since I was a kid that I wanted to be a "writer." I idolized certain writers growing up and would spend hours locked up in my room reading anything I could get my hands on. Although my first writing triumph was winning a contest in the third grade for a science fiction story I wrote (and having to read the mimeographed story on stage in front of my entire grade school, my hands shaking the page as I read) it wasn't until I was in college and took a couple fiction writing classes that my actual "writing," rather than the dreaming of "being a writer" became a habit (good or bad).

Why do you write?

A lot of people say, “I write because I must.” I cringe every time I hear a writer say this. It’s almost cliche. But it is the expression of one’s soul that comes across on the page, the imprinting of one’s persona that makes writing (good writing, anyway) so powerful. Everyone does, in fact, have their own story to tell. And there is that “I must write” thing going on with me to some extent. It’s one activity where I feel fully satisfied and lost when I engage in it. To create something new, to create new worlds, and something to share with others, that others can relate to, learn from (hopefully) – that is the reason that I write.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?

I had a lot of fantasies as a child of what it was to be a writer. The glam writer, jetsetting around the world, giving readings and signings and showing up in the news and papers. The actual writing life is nothing like that (as I have not to date achieved rock star status). Writing, although it definitely has its adrenaline rushes, satisfactions, and challenges is, in reality, really a lot of hard work.

What do you think makes a good story?

I like stories about people, real people. What they go through on a day to day basis. The middle class regular Joes who are trying to make it in this world. Stories that readers can relate to. And, sometimes stories that talk about injustices in the world around us (without bashing you over the head with “message.”

What's your favorite genre to read?

I’m pretty much a literary/mainstream fiction reader.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

I’d be hard pressed to name a (one) “favorite” author. I love to discover writers that I haven’t read (although a lot of them I should have before). Some of my most recent favorites are Alan Lightman (“The Diagnosis”), Andrew Sean Greer (“The Path of the Minor Planet”), Perry Glasser (“Dangerous Places”), Benjamin Percy {“The Language of the Elk”). And there are my old standbys—Philip Roth, John Irving, Nick Hornby, Hemingway, Herbert Gold, Richard Ford, Richard Russo, Jill McCorkle, Michael Chabon, Ellen Gilchrist, Joyce Carol Oates, Tim O’Brien, Martin Amis, Lorrie Moore, Bret Ellis, Frederick Barthelme, Andre Dubus, Jim Harrison. …and so many more. There are so many great writers to read and so many more to discover…so many great books to read…and so little time!

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

That’s a tough one. I guess I was most influenced by books in the 80’s when I began to take writing seriously and was looking for a style, a voice of my own. . Early books by Larry McMurtry – “All My Friends Will be Strangers,” “The Last Picture Show,” Bret Ellis’ book, “Less Than Zero,” some early Roth books – “Goodbye, Columbus,” and “My Life as a Man.” “The World According to Garp,” by Irving is a great book. Books about young men, trying to make their ways in the world, growing up, becoming men.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

Books that have influenced my beliefs the most have to do, to a great extent, with looking at the world in a different way. Books about war, for instance, like “Going After Cacciato,” by Tim O’Brien, “Slaughterhouse Five” and “Catch-22.” Then there was “Time’s Arrow,” by Martin Amis, about the Holocaust. And, of course, “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Night,” by Elie Wiesel, “Painted Bird,” by Elie Wiesel, and, more recently, “The Plot Against America,” by Philip Roth. Coming from a Jewish background, these books deeply affected me because of what happened and what could have or might happen in the future. We are never totally safe from prejudice, hatred, and ignorance. And there are books questioning authority, the status quo, and the systems and broken institutions we live with on a daily basis that have deeply affected me, like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” by Ken Kesey, and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee..

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

Inspiration for me comes from many places. An injustice in the world, in the papers, personal experiences in my daily life, and from questioning the surfaces of life in our world and relationships—what lies beneath them.

What does your family think of your writing?

My partner, Diana, is also a writer and accomplished poet (A Woman’s Song is her first poetry collection) and, is very supportive. We are each other’s biggest fans.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

These days I do not have a strict, disciplined schedule, although I would like to get back to that. I write when I am able and inspired (although if you wait for inspiration, you may be waiting a long time to get to work!).

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

Nothing, really quirky. I do have a habit of jotting things on paper after coming out of the shower, for some reason. Some of my best ideas come during my morning shower. Good lines or ideas that I may want to use later.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Dealing with anything that requires a different time period or a lot of independent research about a subject I’m not that familiar with. I’m not too excited about that part of a writing project.

What are your current projects?

I’m currently working on putting together a collection of short stories, as well as serving as a co-editor with Diana on an anthology called Hip Poetry for worldwide hippies (, which collects various writings from many well known poets and writers. In addition, I continue to work on short stories and a novel-in-progress, with Diana, and have been writing occasional essays for the worldwide hippies site.

What are you planning for future projects?

Some of the current and future projects seem to be ongoing, like the novel-in-progress. IN addition, Diana and I have started a new online literary journal called Blue Lake Review ( We’re very excited about some of the writers and work we’ve gotten so far. Our first issue should be out soon.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read what you want to read, what interests and inspires you, not what others think you should read. Don’t imitate or try to write like you think a writer should write. Find your own voice. This is a lot easier said than done and you may find that you’ve done quite a lot of imitation of writers you admire without even knowing it. But, once you realize that, you can deal with it and make your writing you own.

Where else can we find your work?

Some of my work and references to my writings can be found a my website:


  1. This writer seems great! The books he talks about are great, writerly books.

  2. I love hearing from other writers. Thank you Mitchell.

    I used to keep a pen and lighted pad by my bed because ideas came to me as I drifted off to sleep or as I began to wake. I don't get those inspirations very often anymore. Now I close my office and envision scenes.