Sheryl St. Germain

It’s time for another round of Meet The Author. Sheryl St. Germain has published ten books of poetry and prose, for which she has won numerous awards. Her most recent book is Navigating Disaster: 16 Essays of Love and Poem of Despair. She currently directs the MFA Creative Writing Program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. If you tuned into our 2-year anniversary live reading broadcast, you might remember Sheryl reading her heartbreaking piece, “It’s Come Undone: Crocheting & Catastrophe,” from our October issue.

Here’s a brief quote:

“Sometimes she worked with granny squares, stacking up hundreds of multi-colored squares next to her on the sofa, then, months later, stitching them together in a lively design, making a whole of pieces in ways I’m sure she wished she could do with the broken bits of her life with my father.”

When and why did you start writing?

I always wrote; I have kept journals since I was around 10 years old, and have poems from that time period. I think I wrote to document what I was feeling and, in retrospect to get a handle on the chaos of family.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Having reached either some insight or some deeper complexity with respect to a question or issue that is troubling.

What is your biggest inspiration when you write?

Some pressing issue that I don’t understand.

Do you have a writing schedule?

I try to write in the mornings and weekends.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Actually sitting down and doing it.

How long does it usually take you to finish a story?

Several weeks to several months.

Are you working on anything now?

Yes, a piece about teaching creative writing in a rehab center.

How many rejections did you get before you had something published? How did you deal with them?

Uncountable. I tried to ignore them and just kept sending things out.

How did you celebrate when you got your first acceptance?

Called my best friends to tell them.

Do you prefer typing or pencil to paper when you write?

I usually write my first draft with a fountain pen in a journal.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Walk, read, play World of Warcraft.

Who is your favorite author?

I have too many to say, but I love Pablo Neruda, Robert Hass, Phillip Lopate, Janisse Ray, Pam Houston.

What are some of your favorite books?

Angela’s Ashes, This Boy’s Life, Heroin from A to Z, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t romanticize writing. Just do it. Write about what you feel passionate about.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”