The Hot Chicago Writer Blog

Novembers Writer: Aileen Keown Vaux

My genre: Poetry and short fiction

My literary influences: I cant remember a time when I wasnt a reader (thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder and Dr. Seuss), and though they got me started, I now count Raymond Carver, Sharon Olds, William Carlos Williams, Cormac McCarthy, Laurie Moore, and Walt Whitman as my literary influences.

My favorite literary quote: of all time comes courtesy of Ira Glass and, Im sorry, but its as lengthy as it is true.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, its just not that good. Its trying to be good, it has potential, but its not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesnt have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone Ive ever met. Its gonna take awhile. Its normal to take awhile. Youve just gotta fight your way through.

My favorite book of all time: is The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. Dystopian, feminist fiction? Dont mind if I do. Did I mention Im a real riot at parties?

Im currently reading: The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry vol. 1. Thats totally normal, right? And Im also working through Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

My guilt(iest) pleasure book:(s) usually have some sci-fi/horror elements. Have I read all of Stephen King? Maybe I have. And maybe I have.

I cant write without: a little distraction.I need to people watch, listen to music, sit in a cold room, etc. If Im conscious of oh, Im a writer now, doing my writing the wheels fall off.

Worst line I ever wrote: I recently cleaned out my last remaining possessions at my parents house and discovered about fifteen spiral bound notebooks that I filled with angst and longing as a teenager. The best line from the bunch: I may not be the master of time or fate, but I know that we are each others destiny. Hmmmm, MAY not be the master of time or fate? I like that I leave a little room for possibility in that statement.

Brief Bio: Aileen Keown Vaux moved back to Washington State to pursue her MFA in poetry. Shes currently an assistant managing editor at Willow Springs and creative writing/composition instructor at Eastern Washington University. She misses Lake Michigan intensely.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and

afterellen.com Her debut novel, Herself When Shes Missing,” was called poetic and heartrending by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicagos StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually.

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