FIVE QUESTIONS* FOR LARRY SMITH
by Mira Ptacin
March 16, 2011
I write in spurts. Spurts work when I’m in the zone, but I definitely want to adopt a more disciplined, close-to-daily writing regime.
2. What is the biggest nemesis to your creative spirit?
Not following my own credo to “write drunk, edit sober.” Meaning that I get caught up in making the writing and the work perfect and all-too-massaged and not just getting the words and thoughts down (writing drunk) as one should always do at first, and then stepping back and going over it toughly and tightly later (editing sober).
3. What writers have inspired you the most, and why?
It’s not just writers, all sorts of storytellers inspire me— Ira Glass, Anna Deavere Smith, Dave Eggers, Mary Karr, the late Spalding Gray and Studs Terkel. And then there’s everything else, coming at us all the time: the lyrics of Lucinda Williams and Tom Waits; a blog post from a Twitter link from someone random that’s can be a thing of unexpected beauty; a Six-Word Memoir by a third-grader. And I’ll read anything Jennifer Egan writes, fiction or non-fiction, any make everyone else read it too.
On a more personal level, I was inspired to start SMITH Magazine by my grandfather. The codename for the original prototype of SMITH was Smitty, after Morris “Smitty” Smith, a great storyteller in his day. Smitty came “SMITH” (all caps) as Smith is not only someone who works to create something (a blacksmith or a wordsmith) but is the most popular last name in America. SMITH represents us all, person-to-person, story-to-story. And SMITH is infused by something I witnessed with my grandfather: he loved to tell stories, he rarely did until he was asked. So that was an important lesson for me: everyone has a story, but often they aren’t asked, or made to feel their story is important.
4. What do you hope people take away from your writing?
To do their own writing and tell their own stories.
5. What does it mean to be a writer?