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Mar 21, 2017

How New Yorker Writer and Author of ‘The Rules Do Not Apply’ Ariel Levy Writes

The New Yorker staff writer, award-winning journalist, and author of a new memoir The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy, took a moment out of her hectic schedule to rap with me about the writing life, advice from the impeccable Gay Talese, and turning her personal story into a book.

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The author was a contributing editor for New York magazine for 12 years before becoming a staff writer at The New Yorker where she has written acclaimed pieces on a wide range of subjects from swimmer Diana Nyad to the hallucinogen ayahuasca.

Ariel’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, Vogue, Slate, Men’s Journal, and many others. She was the editor of The Best American Essays 2015, a collection in which she was also anthologized in 2008.

Her latest, The Rules Do Not Apply, is a book based on her heartbreaking personal story, “Thanksgiving in Mongolia.” After winning the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism, she expanded it into a memoir “… about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention.”

Bestselling author David Sedaris said of the book, “Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book.”

If you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews.

In this file Ariel Levy and I discuss:

  • How an award-winning journalist started out as a gossip columnist
  • Why it was easy for the author to turn the lens onto her own painful past
  • How to report a great story for The New Yorker
  • Analog writer hacks for creating order from chaos
  • How great writers are like chocolate

Listen to The Writer Files: Writing, Productivity, Creativity, and Neuroscience below ...

The Show Notes

The Transcript

How New Yorker Writer and Author of The Rules Do Not Apply Ariel Levy Writes

Voiceover: Rainmaker FM.

Kelton Reid: Welcome back to The Writer Files. I am your host, Kelton Reid. Here to take you on another tour of the habits, habitats, and brains of renowned writers. The New Yorker staff writer, award winning journalist, and author of a new memoir, The Rules Do Not Apply, Ariel Levy took a moment out of her hectic schedule to rap with me about the writing life, advice from the impeccable Gay Talese, and turning her personal story into a book. The author was a contributing editor for New York Magazine for 12 years before becoming a staff writer at The New Yorker, where she has written acclaimed pieces on a wide range of subjects from swimmer Diana Nyad to the hallucinogen ayahuasca.

Ariel’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Vogue, Slate, Men’s Journal, and many others. She was the editor of The Best American Essays 2015, a collection in which she was also anthologized in 2008. Her latest, The Rules Do Not Apply, is a book based on her heartbreaking personal story, Thanksgiving in Mongolia. After winning the National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism, she expanded it into a memoir about a woman overcoming dramatic loss and finding reinvention.

Best selling author, David Sedaris, said of the book, “Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book.” In this file, Ariel and I discuss how an award-winning journalist started out as a gossip columnist, why it was easy for the author to turn the lens onto her own painful past, how to report a great story for The New Yorker, analog writer hacks for creating order from chaos, and how great writers are like chocolate.

The Writer Files is brought to you by the all the new StudioPress Sites, a turnkey solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress. It’s perfect for authors, bloggers, podcasters and affiliate marketers, as well as those selling physical products, digital downloads, and membership programs. If you’re ready to take your WordPress site to the next level, see for yourself why over 200,000 website owners trust StudioPress. Go to Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress now. That’s Rainmaker.FM/StudioPress. And if you’re a fan of The Writer Files, please click subscribe to automatically see new interviews as soon as they’re published.

And, we are rolling once again on The Writer Files podcast today with an esteemed guest, Ariel Levy, who is joining us today. The award winning journalist and staff writer at the New Yorker magazine since 2008 and a journalist that’s covered a wide range of subjects, including sexuality and gender, and has written a fantastic new memoir that actually just came out the day of this recording. Congratulations.

Ariel Levy: Thank you.

Kelton Reid: Based on her National Magazine Award winning piece, Thanksgiving in Mongolia … Won for Essays and Criticism. She’s joining us today and I really appreciate you coming on the show to talk to us about your process as a writer.

Ariel Levy: Well, thanks for having me.

Kelton Reid: I understand that you’re not as busy as maybe you thought you would be.

Ariel Levy: Not today. There’s this blizzard happening. I was supposed to go to DC last night and then have a reading tonight but they canceled it, which I think was a little wimpy, because apparently in DC there’s not very much snow. The worst part about it is my stepmother had bought so much food, and it sounds like it was really good food too, so I’m bummed about that.

Kelton Reid: Oh man, oh man.

Ariel Levy: I know, sad.

Kelton Reid: You’ve got tour events happening all through March, it looks like, and into even May and June so listeners can connect with you out there at a host of events you’re doing, which is exciting, probably a little nerve-wracking as well because it seems like you’re traveling quite a bit, but you’re used to that.

Ariel Levy: I am used to that. I am used to that. I have no beef with traveling that much.

How an Award-Winning Journalist Started Out as a Gossip Columnist

Kelton Reid: I want to get into your process and talk to you more about that. Maybe for listeners who aren’t kind of familiar with your inspiring journey, you could kind of tell us a little bit more about your origins as a writer. I understand you kind of started out as an intern at New York Magazine and now you’re this award winning journalist with this new book. How’d you get here?

Ariel Levy: I did it all the time for 20 years, is how.

Kelton Reid: Yeah.

Ariel Levy: No, I was at New York Magazine. I got hired as an intern for the gossip column when I was like 21. That was a scary job. My first day on the job, I remember, I had to call Martha Stewart’s daughter, Alexis, and ask her how she felt about her father having a baby with someone other than Martha Stewart.

Kelton Reid: Oh my God.

Ariel Levy: I remember, I said, “Do you have any feeling about that you want to share?” And she said, “Not with a reporter.” Which is a perfectly legitimate answer. Anyways, so … Yeah, I started like that, and then I started writing pieces for New York Magazine and eventually was hired as a writer there. Then I wrote my first book, Female Chauvinist Pigs, in, I think, 2005. I’m not great with dates. No, that’s true, that’s actually true. 2005. And then, I started writing for the New Yorker in 2008. My new book, The Rules Do Not Apply, came out today.

Kelton Reid: Wow. I understand you’ve been a lover of words and literature since you were little, and you’ve been writing forever. Since then, you’ve written kind of acclaimed profiles of some pretty amazing, inspiring people for The New Yorker, especially including South African runner Caster Semenya. Am I saying that correctly?

Ariel Levy: You are, indeed.

Kelton Reid: Swimmer Diana Nyad which is a really cool story …

Ariel Levy: She was the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida and she did it when she was 64 year old and she’d been trying for 30 years. She tried five times.

Kelton Reid: Amazing.

Ariel Levy: She just wouldn’t quit. She just would not quit and she got it done.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, she found another gear. She found that hidden gear, right?

Ariel Levy: It’s pretty amazing. It’s unbelievable. I mean, she almost died doing it. You know, she was almost killed by jellyfish stinging her but she … She came very close to death, but she did get it done.

Why it was Easy for the Author to Turn the Lens onto Her Own Painful Past

Kelton Reid: Yeah, it’s a crazy story. So, you’ve written about these inspiring people but now you kind of found another gear yourself and turned the lens back on your own story for this memoir. Tell us a little bit about that. I mean, you won the National Magazine Award for Thanksgiving in Mongolia, this heartbreaking story about what you went through, this kind of tragic and transcendent moment in your life. Now, it’s like you had to find another gear to revisit it …

Ariel Levy: Except that, it’s sort of it s like another gear to publish, but it’s not another gear to write. Because, I mean, I’ve been writing what I thought about my life and what was happening in it in journals, whatever, since I was a little kid. So it’s like I’m accustomed to this sort of relationship with myself. Do you know what I mean? I’m accustomed to writing to myself about what’s going on in my life, to try to make sense of it. This was just the first time I thought, Let’s try to make this into something worth a reader’s time.

Kelton Reid: For sure, for sure. It covers a lot of ground. It does talk about your life as a writer.

Ariel Levy: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Kelton Reid: And your journey which is inspiring and of course, there are the heartbreaking pieces. It’s this memoir about a woman overcoming dramatic loss, finding reinvention. These blurbs are amazing.

Ariel Levy: They’re good blurbs. They re hot.

Kelton Reid: How do you pick a favorite? Cheryl Strayed said she read it in one long, rapt sitting, and had some very nice things to say about it. David Sedaris … Also, am I pronouncing Sedaris correctly? I always second-guess myself.

Ariel Levy: That’s right. Yeah.

Kelton Reid: Said, “Every deep feeling a human is capable of will be shaken loose by this profound book.” That was nice of him.

Ariel Levy: That’s nice.

Kelton Reid: Lena Dunham, who I’m sure you pal around New York with …

Ariel Levy: We’re doing an event together at the 92nd Street Y this Friday.

Kelton Reid: She had some sweet things to say about it, too. Lots of cool stuff happening around the book. So, where else can we find your stuff out there? I understand you have a website, and of course The New Yorker, New York magazine … Lots of stuff out there. Where’s the best place to find your writing?

Ariel Levy: The New Yorker website. If you go to the New Yorker website, NewYorker.com and they have an archive with all of our … with every writer’s back stories. It’s all there. I started working there when I was youngish still, like 34 or something, so most of my stuff is there. The stuff from New York magazine, I was still young, I was still figuring things out. Not that I’ve figured it all out, but you know, you know more about what you’re doing when you’re 40 than when you’re 20.

How to Report a Great Story for The New Yorker

Kelton Reid: For sure, for sure. Let’s talk about your productivity some and … You still have, I guess, the column at The New Yorker, so are you sitting down every day to research?

Ariel Levy: No, so the way … It’s not really a column. I write a certain number of features a year and sometimes they’re profiles, and sometimes they’re reported stories that don’t have a single individualized focus.

Kelton Reid:Yeah.

Ariel Levy: Occasionally they’re essays. Only once, only in the case of Thanksgiving in Mongolia was it a first person essay, but occasionally I’m doing essays about books or movies or whatever. But, mostly they’re reported pieces, and most of those reported pieces are profiles. That’s what I like to do best.

Kelton Reid: Yeah. The ayahuasca piece, I found, especially entertaining. I sent it to a friend and …

Ariel Levy: I’m laughing. I’ll tell the listeners. I’m laughing because, for anyone who doesn’t know, ayahuasca is this Peruvian hallucinogen. All my friends told me, you know, it’s just going to be epic. You’re going to take this, you’re going to see your own death, and you’re going to face your demons and it’s going to be really, really hard. It’s going to be a long night of the soul, but you’re going to obtain this new degree of unity through it.

Well, so I was really scared and I was really like, Oh my God, this is a big deal. You go on this special diet and everything. Then I did it, and the only thing that happened is that people puked on me. That was it. I didn’t hallucinate. I didn’t see my own death. Nothing scary happened, except for a good vomiting.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, yeah. I found it especially interesting to hear, or read about Tim Ferriss and his experiences and how pervasive it is and kind of Silicon Valley culture and that kind of thing.

Ariel Levy: Well he was one of the people that said this is like the best thing ever. It’s going to change your life. I think it has changed his life, but there’s something … I feel a little disappointed that it didn’t rock my world. But it was still … it was good for the story, frankly, so that was fine.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, yeah. Before you sit down and get going on a new piece, I should’ve asked you … Are you working on a piece of journalism now?

Ariel Levy: Yes, I’m working on a piece about the writer Elizabeth Strout who won the Pulitzer prize for the novel, Olive Kitteridge, or the collection of short stories, Olive Kitteridge that altogether feel almost like a novel but they really are a collection of short stories. She has a new book coming out called, Anything Is Possible, and I’m writing a story about her and her writing life. Actually, sort of apt for this.

Kelton Reid: So, before you sit down to get going … Do you have any pregame rituals? Are you …

Ariel Levy: The big ritual is before I sit down and write, I go out and report.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, yeah.

Ariel Levy: The big ritual is, you know, I go follow a person while he or she lives her life. And I see what the contours of this individual’s world are, and I try to figure out as I’m reporting it, What’s the most important and the most vivid aspect of this person’s world? How am I going to convey this person’s context? And, How am I going to pull out a theme for this story and make this story be about something. It can’t just meander around. It has to be about something.

Kelton Reid: Yeah.

Ariel Levy: That’s what I’m mostly trying to figure out when I’m reporting.

Kelton Reid: Sure.

Ariel Levy: Then, God willing, by the time I sit down to write it, I have some idea what that is. But, not always. Sometimes I have to figure it out in the process. Sometimes … It’s nicer. It’s more fun, for me, if I know when I sit down, my focus is what I’m going to say. But, it doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I have to trial and error it.

Kelton Reid: For sure. You’re synthesizing everything and then, when you sit down, are you in a home office or are you someone who can write in coffee shops?

Ariel Levy: Coffee shops is not my thing. I need a certain amount of quiet, but beyond that, I’m not so precious about it. I’ve never understood … I have this certain amount of … Disdain is probably not too strong a word for people who have really ritualized approaches to writing, where say, they have to have six sharpened number two pencils and they have to have this kind of tea and it has to be this time of day. I just kind of feel like, Oh give me a break. Just sit down, whenever, and write what you need to write, for God sakes.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, yeah.

Ariel Levy: That’s they way I’ve always approached it.

Kelton Reid: For sure. I mean, it seems like the strong, dramatic arc, which is something you’ve talked about in the past and kind of finding the … You’re looking for something specific and special about the story that you’re writing, and then once you find it, it’s probably just second nature to you at this point.

Ariel Levy: Well, I wouldn’t say that. It s always like … There’s always a point in the piece where I call my editor and say, “I’m sorry but this is not going to work. This is not a thing. This is not a story. I don’t know what we’re doing here.” Then we talk about it, and then I keep shoving through it. It’s not second … It’s not easy. It’s always sort of like … Yuck. There’s always a certain amount of like grunting and kvetching and storming around. But, I can do that wherever …

Kelton Reid: Sure, sure. You actually write about that in the book, I’m quoting, “Somehow if you want to badly enough, you can always report a story.” You said, “It feels like magic, but it works like carpentry.”

Ariel Levy: Yeah, I mean that’s about reporting as opposed to writing, so like, reporting … It does sometimes feel like magic. It does sometimes feel like You show up in Africa, you know you want to write about Caster Semenya, and that’s all you know, or that’s all I knew. I didn’t have any contacts, I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew it had to happen and so it did.

It’s actually not unlike writing on deadline. People are always like, “How do you get it done?” I say, “Well, I have to. The magazine is coming out. It’s my job. I have to turn this in. We have to run it. What? Are we going to leave a blank page? There goes that.” I’m always amazed by people who can write not on deadline, by people who just … I suppose I shouldn’t be so disdainful of routine. Because I suppose if you don’t have a deadline, that s what you must have is, Every day, from this time to this time, I write, and that way it gets done. But, I don’t do it that way. I do it much more scatter shot and … much less organized than that. But it seems to work. It always seems to come together somehow.

Kelton Reid: Let’s talk about how it comes together. I’m imagining that you have a pretty compact travel laptop. So are you working on a Mac or-

Ariel Levy: Yeah, I’m working on a … What’s this thing called? A MacBook Air.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, yeah. Then, as you’re kind of synthesizing everything and getting it onto the page, are you a Microsoft Word writer or do you prefer something like a Scrivener …

Ariel Levy: No, I use Word, that’s what I use. Yeah.

Analog Writer Hacks for Creating Order from Chaos

Kelton Reid: Do you have any organizational hacks?

Ariel Levy: Definitely not. I’m so disorganized. I’m not organized. No. I’m very … I’m not that organized. I guess the only thing I would say … What I do sometimes with reported pieces, if there’s a lot of complicated stuff, sometimes I’ll go through all my transcripts. That’s the first thing. After I do reporting, I’ll do the transcribing. Sometimes, this woman Mallory does it with me, the transcription.

Then, I go through all the transcripts and sometimes like, for everything that I think I want to use … Whether it’s a good quote or a theme or an idea that I’m having, that I want to have in a piece. Sometimes I’ll write each of those things on a post-it-note and put all those things on a wall and kind of like move them around until the order seems like it might make some kind of sense. I don’t know if that’s a hack. If anything, it’s like the opposite of hack. I do things that take as much time and are as poorly organized, maybe, as possible, is how I do it.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, but sometimes those analog so-called hacks really are helping your brain kind of with that preparation and incubation stuff so that you can have those, you know …

Ariel Levy: I’m extremely analog. I don’t understand … The interweb is a little bit of a mystery to me, still. It really is … and Twitter and everything. I’m not good at it, any of it.

Kelton Reid: I think I just snorted.

Ariel Levy: Well, I count that as an accomplishment.

Kelton Reid: Do you have any best practices for kind of beating the dreaded procrastination when you run against a deadline and having any issues kind of getting it on the page?

Ariel Levy: Right, if the deadline is zooming up, eventually you just have to stop, don’t you, because you’re like, “Well this is …” I will often push it to the point where it’s like, “Okay, now it’s really time. This actually has to happen or there s gonna be real trouble.” That to me is the most …

I think it also depends on … You need to have the right balance of fear, but not too much fear. You have to have enough fear that you’re like, I’ve got to do this actually. This has to happen right now or there’s going to be real trouble. You need that much fear, but you don’t want so much fear you’re paralyzed. I try to get the work done where it’s like, just a little scary, but not so scary that I’m freaking out.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, yeah.

Ariel Levy: That knife s edge balance …

Kelton Reid: I see.

Ariel Levy: Just like between productive anxiety and raw terror.

Kelton Reid: Right, right. Is that something that you learned from say, Gay Talese or …

Ariel Levy: No, Gay Talese is extremely organized. Now, there’s a guy with a system. But, I have absolutely no disdain for him and his systems because he’s old school. He earned it. He’s been doing this forever. Man, you want systems, that guy has systems. He has to be wearing a perfectly cut suit …

I remember he told me once, or he told us, he came in and told us at New York Magazine that after he reports something … He came and met with a bunch of writers at New York Magazine and talked to us about craft. He came in and he was explaining to us that the minute he finished reporting something, he’d go home and write down everything that he thought. Every night he was reporting, he would go back to his hotel room or his house or whatever and write down every single thing he could think of about what he had just done.

He has also … I can’t remember what else. He has all sorts of organizational systems with index cards … you know, he’s old school. That I find very attractive. I like the way he does business. At the end of the day, it’s like, what does the guy write? If someone s gonna write the stuff he’s written, you can’t argue with that.

Kelton Reid: Sure.

Ariel Levy: You don’t argue with Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, do you? It s still a beautiful piece, it’s still an amazing piece. It holds up. Oh God, it’s good.

The Surprising Benefits of a Little Bit of Whiskey

Kelton Reid: Well, how does Ariel Levy unwind at the end of a long writing day?

Ariel Levy: Well, it depends. If I’m in one of my virtuous modes, then there’s a certain amount of yoga, a certain amount of biking along the Hudson. I really like biking on the city bikes in New York City. If it’s summertime, I like gardening a lot. Then, you know, when everything’s done, when a big … When it’s closing night at the magazine and we’ve finished a big story that we’ve been working on for a long time or whatever, then there may or may not be a certain amount of whiskey.

Kelton Reid: Yes.

Ariel Levy: Actually.

Kelton Reid: Very nice.

Ariel Levy: For that, I would like to blame Nick Trautwein, my editor, because he always has this selection of Bourbons and whatnot.

Kelton Reid: Now, is that in the office?

Ariel Levy: It is, and the reason it’s in the office, we have these things at The New Yorker, we have closing meetings where like, the writer, the editor, the fact checker and the copy editor all sit down and go through things. I think Nick figured out a long time ago that if you give the writers little drinks throughout the meeting, they become increasingly compliant and so instead of like, on every single thing the writer pushing back and being like, “No, I chose that word for a reason, you get … You give them little bits of alcohol. Not so much, you don’t want a mess on your hands, but enough that the riders start saying things like, “Oh fine.”

Kelton Reid: Sure.

Ariel Levy: So that’s Nick’s fault.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, those of us who work on the Internet, don’t have that pleasure. At least, receiving the drinks from the editor.

Ariel Levy: From editors trying to set you up.

Kelton Reid: I like it, I like it.

Ariel Levy: I do too.

Kelton Reid: Couple of questions about creativity for you. How do you define creativity kind of in your own estimation?

Ariel Levy: This mysterious force where there’s just some … Nobody knows where that voice in your head comes from, right? Where you’re just like … Words are coming into your head. That’s the weird part of all this. It’s like, I don’t know who’s talking to me. You know what I mean? I don’t know where that’s sentence is coming from, why it’s forming in my head and then coming out my fingers. Then, it’s like, it becomes rational. It becomes, Okay, let’s look at this. Is this the best way to say this? Is this clear? Does this flow? But that initial thing of something coming into your head like that just pushes you to put down these words in this way … God only knows what that is. But, it’s fun, I mean, that’s my favorite thing, is writing down … The voices in my head. I like that game.

How Great Writers are Like Chocolate

Kelton Reid: What do you think makes a writer truly great?

Ariel Levy: If he or she has a voice that’s unmistakable. If he or she has a voice that’s like … you know, the way you taste chocolate and you know when you’ve tasted chocolate. You always know it’s chocolate. That’s a great writer, is when you read him or her you always go, “Oh, that’s Elena Ferrante, there’s no mistaking it. That’s Gay Talese. That’s Janet Malcolm, that s whoever.” When you know that you’ve just tasted the flavor or their writing and it’s unmistakable. That’s great stuff.

Kelton Reid: You’ve named a lot of great authors already. Do you have a couple favorites sitting on your nightstand right now that you’re kind of stuck on?

Ariel Levy: Right now, I’m reading every single book Elizabeth Stroud ever wrote, because I’m writing this piece about her. I’m very happy. I mean, it’s like a real joy. I remember once I was writing this profile about the conservative politician, Mike Huckabee, and I had to read all his books and I was like … “Oy, gevalt!” You know, such a process.

But anyway, this is a joy, just being snowed in on a Tuesday reading everything Elizabeth Stroud ever wrote, it’s such a pleasure. Then, besides her, I have on my nightstand, as soon as I finish all these Stroud books, I have the new Rachel Cusp book and I have the new Ottessa, I can never pronounce her name, Moshfegh, I think is how you say it. Her new book of short stories, Homesick for Another World … I think that’s … I mean, the Stroud stack is fairly large. There’s only so much space on my nightstand.

Kelton Reid: Right, right. Do you have a best loved quote kind of floating over your desk or just kind of on the brain that you can share with writers?

Ariel Levy: Yeah, I really like, let’s hope I get it exactly right … The psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” To me, that’s a little bit the point of the book I just wrote. That’s just sort of about accepting that and the ways in which I had to change. Also, I just thought … It’s not unlike what they say in various ways, in various 12 step programs, but it s very well worded. I mean it’s very … It’s like, I don’t know, that does it for me.

Kelton Reid: Yeah. The Rules Do Not Apply, kind of your own search for meaning. Before we leave writers with some advice on how to keep going, do you want to say a little bit more about the book? It’s got this amazing advance praise and you know, I mean, I m kind of hoping that readers haven’t read The New Yorker piece before they pick it up, because it is kind of an expansion on that transcendent and very personal journey that you’ve gone through. Do you want to say something?

Ariel Levy: Yeah, I mean, basically it’s just a book about the illusion of control and how I was disabused of mine when I was 38, in the space of about two months, I lost my son and my spouse and my house. I had to take it from the top. I had to re-evaluate life. I think that I had to let go of a strategy that has served me as a writer, which is having a certain amount of authorial power, right?

The power of authorship is you analyze and interpret and try to persuade other people of your interpretation and you impose structure and meaning on a narrative and take out whatever’s not working. I think I had to learn, when all that happened, that I wasn’t in control, and that analyzing and interpreting and trying to control the story was useless. What was useful was surrender, which is a very different impulse from the writer s impulse, you know? For me anyway.

Kelton Reid: Well, I would encourage listeners to seek out The Rules Do Not Apply. I believe that is available as of this recording.

Ariel Levy: Absolutely.

Kelton Reid: Go hither.

Ariel Levy: It’s available right this minute.

Kelton Reid: Yeah, and I will link to your website, your Twitter, some of your fantastic journalism. Do you have some advice to fellow scribes on just how to keep going? How to keep the ink flowing and the cursor moving?

Ariel Levy: I think that every writer I’ve ever met shares this thing where it s like, there’s not really a choice. You’re just … That’s what you do, is write. You kind of can’t not. If you’re one of those people, then you just have to take that seriously and you just have to not stop. That’s all there is. Keep going and be in it for it’s own sake because it’s what you do. Because it’s who you are.

Kelton Reid: Yeah. Thank you so much for taking the time and we hope that you come back and speak with us again some time in the future and best of luck with your tour and this powerful, fantastic memoir.

Ariel Levy: Thank you so much, Kelton.

Kelton Reid: Cheers. Thanks so much for joining me on another tour of the writer’s process. If you enjoy The Writer Files podcast, please subscribe to the show and leave us a rating or review to help other writers find us. For more episodes or to leave a comment or a question, you can drop by WriterFiles.FM. And you can always chat with me on Twitter @KeltonReid. Cheers. Talk to you soon.