Creative Writing

Where I Write: with Susan Alami

Where I Write, a series of short interviews with current students, faculty, and alumni of the Creative Writing Program. It is a discussion of place in writing. What our writing spaces look like can be as varied as the physical spaces that exist (or don’t!) in New York and beyond, and as varied as the mental and psychic spaces we occupy while we write. See purple-silver stars while traipsing from Sunset to Vine to Melrose with second year MFA in fiction and host of TNS After Hours reading series Susan Alami.

Where do you write?

I write in my bedroom at my desk. Framed above it, I have two glitter prints from one of my favorite artists: Ashleigh Verrier. I’m a sucker for anything that glitters—I blame that on growing up in the golden era of Limited Too and Claire’s Accessories, which was honestly America at its finest.

Stand, sit or other?

I sit criss-cross in a blush-pink accent chair that’s stuffed with velvet throw pillows. I get antsy when I’m in a writing groove, so that channels into me constantly tucking my hair behind my ears and cracking my knuckles a lot. Any day now, I’ll meet that sweet queen named Early Onset Arthritis. 

What is your writing practice?

First, I drink a lot of cold brew. If I’m not seeing purple-silver stars when I blink or if I can’t feel sidewalk cracks in my heartbeat, then sorry, but that’s not a good enough level of caffeination for me. Then, I light a candle and look at my collage notebook. I collage with scissors and glue in the earnest, serious pursuit of Writing a Book. When I’ve romanticized my life enough, I open my Pages app on my MacBook Air (this is #NotSponsored), and write.

What are your favorite procrastinations?

Reality television. The Earth rotates because of The Real Housewives. I spend a lot of time thinking about which of them I’d invite to dinner: Beverly Hills’s Dorit because her fake, vaguely European accent is iconic (she’s from Connecticut) and Potomac’s Grande Dame Karen because one time she threw a wig brand launch party, invited all the women, and then left her own event after ten minutes (my personal hero).

We live in interesting times, which book/author keeps you sane/grounded?

Eve Babitz. She captures Hollywood’s smoky-pink-blue feeling and articulates what it’s like to live, and to love living in, a town that spins on the eternal axis of deep ambition and glossy beauty in a way that’s addicting. I wish she and I could laugh over old-fashioned’s at Formosa Cafe, then traipse from Sunset to Vine to Melrose together, like girls discovering the glittering allure of Hollywood together for the first time. 

What is your new skill learned during the shutdowns of the Pandemic

Worrying less.

What is your dream writing space?

My dream writing space is the Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California or Topanga Canyon’s Topanga Living Cafe when it’s not wildfire season. The Huntington Gardens are hush quiet, and TLC’s outdoor patio is surrounded by gorgeous curls of colorful wildflowers. I’d love to tuck into a shady spot in either place on a sunny day, a cup of cold brew with oat milk by my side, and write the hours away. 

Susan Alami Susan Alami is a writer from Los Angeles, California. She loves iced coffee, Eve Babitz, and the interior design of The Cheesecake Factory. 

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