The Writing University conducts a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.
Today we are talking with Nonfiction Writing Program MFA candidate Lulu Dewey.
Lulu Dewey is an essayist, teacher, and third-year MFA Candidate in the Nonfiction Writing Program. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from the Los Angeles Review of Books, DIAGRAM, Iowa Public Radio, and elsewhere.
1. Do you have a specific project that you will be working on this year?
I’m currently working on a collection of essays. The narrator in this essay collection strives for belonging in increasingly absurd ways: communicating with office dogs as a young woman in the tech industry, spending an ill-advised amount of time in a tanning booth in the pursuit of desirability, or wishing to be a horse as a means to gain love and acceptance.
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write, or any specific routine?
I like to tell myself that a lot of my daily non-writing activities (teaching, reading, watching reality TV) are actually all in the pursuit of writing, which makes me feel better on days when I don’t find the time to work on an essay. I'm especially inspired by my current Humor Writing students. When I do sit down to write, it’s often for a huge chunk of time — five or six hours straight — until I get hungry and have to move. Or I'll be seized with an idea in the car and scribble out a partial draft on whatever scrap of paper I have handy: the back of a Taco Bell receipt, usually.
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
I just finished reading two excellent and very different books. The first was The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang, which I meant to read for pleasure but ended up taking a lot of inspiration from. The second was Truth & Beauty by Anne Patchett, which I love because it’s full of so much Iowa City writing drama. I love drama.
4. What is one thing the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?
I take the word “nonfiction” very lightly. My work is full of half-truths. That’s part of what I love about the essay as a genre — essays can be highly researched, or follow a traditionally narrative form, or they can be strange and lyrical, or find a place somewhere in between. There’s room for everyone at the essay table, which means that a lot of exciting new voices and styles can emerge.
5. Tell us about where you are from -- can you share a few of your favorite details about your home?
I was born in England but moved to Southern California when I was very young. Before moving to Iowa City I was living in the Bay Area in California, which feels most like home to me. I love the incredible food there—especially Cheeseboard Pizza in Berkeley and all of the great Chinese food in San Francisco.
Thank you Lulu!