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Michelle Wildgen Recommends...

Writers Recommend

Posted 3.10.10

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"After years of thinking setting didn't inspire me at all, I have come to realize that it does—but only after I'm gone. I've learned not to try to write about a place until I've left it, whether I was traveling or living there. For instance, I have written two books set in Madison, Wisconsin, but I didn't feel an urge to set anything there until I had moved to Westchester, New York, to get an MFA. Once I was gone, Madison leapt into focus, and instead of looking out my window and going nuts trying to capture every little thing before me, distance let me edit and reimagine. But now that I am living in Madison again, I no longer feel a need to put it on the page. I've been picturing Yonkers instead—a place I lived for school and cheap rent, a place I fully intended to leave every day of every year for the entire seven years I lived there. I never really thought it would do much to inspire me, but I began thinking about it again the other day, wondering if the same pattern would hold true, and sure enough, it has."
—Michelle Wildgen,
author of But Not for Long (Thomas Dunne Books, 2009)

Reader Comments

  • lexielizabeth says...

    I think that's really interesting. I'm finally writing about my hometown, Pittsburgh. It feels good, because I always thought perhaps I didn't like the city as much as I thought. Now I know it's just because I needed to escape for a bit to realize what I loved about it.

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