- Uncategorized

Introduction by Way of Obsession

Happy Tuesday, everyone. John Madera has very kindly invited me to join the crew here, and since I lurk and occasionally comment here often, I was all too eager to take him up on the offer. So, hello!

I could tell you some really boring things about myself, like where I’ve published, where I work, what I do in my spare time, etc – but why would I want to tell you boring things? I’d rather introduce myself – and learn more about you – by discussing our writerly obsessions.

When I say obsessions, I mean anything and everything that crops up in your writing again and again and again, whether or not you attempt to banish it. Sometimes you’re aware of them, sometimes you have to really look at your body of work to see a definite obsession emerge.  Obsessions can be people, themes, countries, objects, dreams, anything anything anything at all.

Here are some of mine: birds, cities, geography, taxidermy, WWI, British history,  antiques, Greek mythology, American legends, weapons and machines, how things are constructed, geography, presidents, geology, equations and balance, cold weather, the Gilded Age and the beginning of modernity, crazy people, blonde hair, feral children, indecision, shapeshifters, anthropomorphism, homeless people, the rule of threes, coffee, the fall of the Roman Empire, King Arthur, Russia, China, painters, the terrifyingness of old people, unbeautiful losers, fragility as strength, animals, empire, belief and disbelief, light.

Most of these I can’t explain. Some are easy to figure out, tied to a lifelong love of history coupled with Irish ancestry or the way I grew up (in cities, reading fantasy, fearing the elderly.) But I can’t shake them, and I guess they’ve come to litter and define my writing in a way I’m not sure is good or bad, but just is.

What about you? What are your writerly obsessions, and do you have explanations for them?

  • Amber Sparks's work has been featured or is forthcoming in various places, including New York Tyrant, Unsaid, Gargoyle, Annalemma and PANK. She is also the fiction editor at Emprise Review, and lives in Washington, DC with a husband and two beasts.

28 thoughts on “Introduction by Way of Obsession

  1. Awesome. Welcome. Look forward to your posts. I’ve only begun hanging out here, recently, but I know you’ll contribute a lot of feral shapeshifting blonde people goodness.

      1. Yeah, so? What, you don’t like them?


        I used to live in Wicker Park, here in Chicago, so I was a wicker kat, man.

        1. No, I’m somewhat obsessed with them, actually. As well as all things wicker.

          You’re still in Chicago? We must meet up sometime.

          …I’ll try to make your reading this Saturday. (Malcolm Felder isn’t reading at that, is he? Do you know Malcolm?)


          1. In the suburbs now, you know, married with children, all that stuff. But I love WP. Wow, if you make the reading for sure say howdy, that would be awesome. Love Quimby’s.

  2. Welcome Amber! It’s great you are here.

    Egoistically, I would say I’m obsessed with myself and so often take my own problems (or issues) and try to solve myself.

  3. Welcome, Amber! I can only agree with how little a typical bio does to help me understand what a writer and, perhaps more importantly, what their writing is like. One’s obsessions can certainly be illuminating, as your list is.

    I haven’t really thought of common threads in my writing, but I will say that what immediately comes to mind for me is that I’m obsessed with syntax, almost at the point of driving myself crazy. I’m just about ready to stop reading fiction and poetry, which comprise most of my reading time and study, and start reading only books on grammar, style, and usage. It’s probably not going to happen, but the urge is very strong now. Then again, I’m also tempted to ditch fiction and poetry, as far as reading is concerned, for another kind of fiction and poetry, that is, philosophy.

    1. I can definitely identify with the syntax obsession. I’ve got a similar thing for the line lately–I’ve been reading mostly poetry because of it.

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. Very nice introduction. I love your list of obsessions.

    I haven’t really thought about my writerly obsessions, but the ones that come to mind easily are: twenty-something people (equally queer/straight, more women than men), the Midwest, multiracial people, lower middle class/working poor people, air described as a measure of distance or mood, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Chinese food, sexual tension, critiques of gender roles, cigarette smokers, pot smokers, beer drinkers, tea/coffee, woodland creatures (especially deer, owls, sparrows, squirrels), mental illness, metaphors, vegetarians, secret sexual kinks/desires, eyes, hands, throats, mouths, desperation, and lots of motherfucking swear words. :)

    1. Thanks, Dawn. Love the woodland creatures–especially because my eyes instantly went from that to “secret sexual kinks.” Made me think of Snow White and all those other weird sexually pure Disney heroines and their odd relationship with woodland creatures. :)

      1. You’ve seen this?


        It’s a pretty cute movie (with some well directed musical numbers).

              1. It’s a very cute film, and I appreciate the thought and effort that went into making it. James Marsden is pretty good as the prince, and Amy Adams is absolutely spectacular. Ultimately, though, the movie doesn’t push its ideas far enough. Still, it really stands out among recent Disney films. Along with Lilo & Stitch, it’s one of the only ones with any edge.

                Very highly watchable.

  5. Welcome! My most recent obsession is really methodological — collage, appropriation, adaptation, alchemy. Turning what’s found and encountered into something else.

  6. Amber!

    Welcome. Who has time for obsessions? Not me. But I look forward to reading your posts.

    All best, and welcome to BO.


  7. hi, amber, and welcome!
    i am obsessed with writing about shadows. and somehow teeth are cropping up all over my tweets.

      1. Hi, aya,

        I’m obsessed with shadows in writing as well, have been for the past couple of years. For things (?) that are apparently ephemeral and insubstantial, there’s a damned lot there. I’m curious to hear how they’ve appeared in your work…

  8. Thanks, Davis and Aya. I have no time for anything, true–but that’s probably the fault of my obsessed, one track brain. Teeth, oh, man. Few things creep me out more than tooth dreams and as somebody who’s had about a hundred fillings and a few crowns, I have those dreams a lot. The teeth in my stories are nearly always perfect, though–wishful projection, maybe?

  9. Yay for syntax obsessions–even if the posters no longer give as much of a fig about it; syntax is the bestest!

Leave a Reply to Amber SparksCancel reply