The Who, What, Where, When and Why with Sarai Walker
By Jade Craddock
Sarai Walker’s debut novel Dietland, described as ‘Part Fight Club, part feminist manifesto’, was released last month and is already racking up the plaudits. Here, she tackles the who, what, where, when and why of writing. ♥
Who has been the most important person in your writing journey?
There’s no single person who has been the most important. Recently I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am to have a wide circle of support, including family, friends and former teachers. I’m not sure I would have succeeded without all these people in my life.
What motivates you to write?
I need a creative outlet and I need to express myself. Writing is the medium that suits me best. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have writing. It’s sometimes a torturous process, but my life is usually happier and more fulfilling when I’m immersed in a writing project.
Where do you write?
I write mostly at my desk at home, since I prefer isolation and quiet (aside from music!). But sometimes, usually when I’m feeling stir crazy, I take my notebook or laptop to a coffeehouse to write. I’ve written some important scenes in coffeehouses, surrounded by strangers and background noise. This environment can sometimes be mentally stimulating, but I’m not sure why.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing as a teenager and had some success early on. At 17, I won first place in Sassy magazine’s short story contest. A few years later, I was invited to participate in a writing workshop by an influential editor and teacher who had “discovered” a few famous writers. In this workshop, he told me that I wouldn’t have anything important to say as a writer for at least 20 years. Of course I didn’t want to hear this at the time, but he ended up being right.
Why did you write this book?
I wanted to write a novel and the idea for Dietland took shape over a period of several years. I attempted to write it and failed, so I set it aside for another idea. Yet no matter what I did, Dietland kept demanding my attention. I began to realize that I would never be able to write anything else until I wrote Dietland. Sometimes our ideas choose us.
Sarai Walker received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Bennington College. As a magazine writer, her articles appeared in national publications, including Seventeen and Mademoiselle. She subsequently served as an editor and writer for Our Bodies, Ourselves, before moving to London and then Paris to complete a Ph.D. She currently lives in the New York City area. Dietland is her first novel.