What is your most recent writing project, or what is a piece you’ve had published recently?
My most recently published project is Take Nothing with You (University of Iowa Press, 2016).
“Schweig’s is not the thinking of the conquistador of knowledge, nor of dispassionate inquiry. It’s the enactment of thinking as working-through, as therapeutic maneuver made below the radars of certainty and world-historical system. Even if the speakers here often seem to have inherited the high diction of Western Thought, their investment is in the teleological program of holding shit together. ”
What is one craft or writing book you love?
Aspects of the Novel by E.M. Forster.
Silence by John Cage.
(Ok, I know that’s two).
Who is one other writer you’re excited about right now?
Karl Ove Knausgaard.
Do you have a dedicated work space? Do you write in your home or do you prefer to write elsewhere? Can you write while traveling?
I have a desk in my bedroom where I do some writing. I also do a lot of reading and writing at our kitchen table, where our cats often provide a concentration obstacle course. I can and do write while traveling, especially when I can carve out a little spot that feels like home, like in Naples, Italy, where my husband is from.
What are some of your writing habits? (Do you write at a particular time? Do you write every day?, etc.)
I write and think best in the morning or late at night. If not left alone in the morning to do this, I am—or so I’ve been told—quite difficult to be around all day.
How do you pay the bills/financially support yourself?
I work as a staff reporter for a digital media company.
What are the most pressing demands for your time, energy, labor (including emotional labor)? What has worked best for you in terms of balancing those demands with writing?
It is always a struggle. I want to be a good friend, wife, sister, daughter, employee, student (I’m working on a Master’s in Philosophy, something I found necessary for the future of my writing). I’ve found that a necessary condition for being good at being these things is to have already done the writing I need to do. I need to be habitually visiting that space where writing honestly becomes possible, and it can be hard to hack through all the posturing and ego and facticity and actually get there. Weekends are immensely important for this, as are early mornings, like I said. Being away from all forms of technology is increasingly important for me. I think pressing demands, of the right kinds, which mine fortunately are, actually pressure me in the right way to write what is essential. Or, at least, that is the story I have to tell myself.
What are the ideal conditions for your creativity?
I struggle with ideal conditions. As soon as I think I have them, these conditions become wrong. This is the danger of being one’s own judge of one’s own habits—the risk of falling into a rut. My husband helps me with this. When it’s 1:00 p.m. and I haven’t brushed my teeth or gotten dressed, he suggests that perhaps I should take a walk, get some fresh air, and/or eat something. He is usually right. In a sense, then, there is no such thing as ideal conditions for creativity, I think, because we depend on the spontaneity and chaos of the world to surprise us, anger us, awe us. Resisting what I perceive as non-ideal conditions can actually be a form of procrastination.
What self-care practices do you have and what, if any, routines do you have surrounding them? How does self-care relate to your writing life?
As the above answer probably reveals, I struggle with self care. If the ultimate self care is doing what I need and love to do, which is making sense of the world through writing, then that takes priority over everything and then I forget that I’m also a creature with actual needs. So when I have my priorities right, I wake up early, read or write for myself for as long as I can, and then I do everything else I have to do for others and for my body.
Sarah V. Schweig is the author of Take Nothing with You (University of Iowa Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in BOMB, Boston Review, Iowa Review, Tin House, and elsewhere. A graduate of the University of Virginia and Columbia University, she currently studies philosophy at The New School for Social Research and lives and works in New York City.
Contact: @sarahvschweig or sarahvschweig.com