Sheila Heti, "A Follower of Aeromat"

It's December 18. Sheila Heti, author of How Should a Person Be? and Ticknor, deals from the middle of the deck.

How would you describe your story?

SHEILA HETI: It’s about trying to write from a place of inspiration in a time of Twitter and the internet, when all sorts of voices are in your head, telling you to stop writing what you’re writing, that you’re bad, that you’re going to upset this person or that one, and how this voice gets insides your head and becomes a part of you, and conflicts with what, deep down, it seems like writing should feel be like—a kind of unimpeded flow and, at least in the moment of creation, untroubled by those concerns.

When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?

SH: I wrote it when my boyfriend and I were living beside a frozen lake, in a cottage, outside the city for a month. He had work to do in the area. The process was the same as it always is: I write quickly, in a burst, then edit later, maybe months later. I wrote this story upon waking up in the middle of the night.

What kind of research went into this story?

SH: None, but I was partly inspired by a wonderful lecture the writer Tova Benjamin gave the month before at Trampoline Hall.

What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing (novels, poems) can't?

SH: It can do the same things as novels and poems. I don’t think it’s a special form, necessarily.

Where can people go to learn more about you and your writing?


What's on your Christmas list this year?

SH: Turning forty (God willing). My birthday is on Christmas day.

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What did you think of today's story? Use the hashtag #ssac2016 on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to check in with your fellow advent calendarians.

Michael Hingston