Steven B. Rosenfeld–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

My wife and I each have home offices in our West Village apartment, so I am fortunate enough to have my own creative space, and do almost all of my writing there.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I use my home computer, both for writing and for the online research I do for my stories, when research is needed.  It’s very efficient, because it allows me to pause during writing or revision, when I discover that I need to check or research facts, do the research, and have the draft right there on my screen to access as I do the research.

What is your routine for writing?

I wish I had one. Even though I am “retired” as a full-time lawyer, writing is still very much an avocation for me. I’m involved in a lot of volunteer work as well as being a father and grandfather, so the quantity and quality of time, and my ability to block off allotted time for writing, varies widely. When I do find that I have time, I try to allot at least half of the day for writing/revising or writing-related activities—such as answering this questionnaire.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

As a practicing lawyer in New York City, I have been writing for over 40 years—numerous briefs, articles in legal periodicals, op-ed pieces and reports, including large portions of the 1972 Report of the N.Y. State Commission on Attica, which was nominated for a National Book Award, and the public reports of the NYC Conflicts of Interest Board, which I chaired from 2002 to 2013.  However, I only began writing short stories, originally just for fun, about three years ago.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I don’t really have an intended or ideal audience. I think I write for whomever might enjoy the particular story I’m working on at the time, which I guess varies as widely as the subjects of my stories, which have included things drawn from my own memories and experiences, humorous/satirical pieces or, like “Risky,” a (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) suspense story.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

I think I’m most inspired by the sheer joy of writing itself, whether or not what I’m writing is ever going to be read beyond my loyal circle of friends and family. When I first began writing short stories, I was – and still am – inspired by this quote from one of my favorite writers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

                “. . . because of my helpful suspicion that perhaps nothing I had experienced . . . was true, I did not have to ask myself where life ended and imagination began. Then the writing became so fluid that I sometimes felt as if I were writing for the sheer pleasure of telling a story, which may be the human condition that most resembles levitation.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I like to think that I’m never “blocked” (do doctors have doctor’s block?), but when I am having trouble thinking of ideas for new stories, I have taken in-person or on-line workshops designed to stimulate new ideas. One of them, run by Beth Bauman at the West Side Y in NYC, is called “Filling the Well”—and it’s helped fill mine several times.                     

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I read The New York Times every day, The New Yorker every week, and more short story magazines than I can get through, so the pile on my bedside table keeps growing. I occasionally read (or listen to) novels as well. I don’t dance or play golf, but my wife and I are frequent theatre, opera and concert goers—and diners-out.  And I work out with a trainer twice a week.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Getting a new idea and jumping head-first into it. Getting an acceptance email is a close second, though.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Just do it—don’t be afraid to tackle any idea that occurs to you. Take all the writing workshops you can (in-person, if you can, on-line if you can’t), because it puts you in touch with other aspiring writers and shows you that, even though the actual task of writing can feel lonely, you’re hardly alone. Oh, and even if you’re 70+ years old like I was, it’s never too late to start.

Check out Steven’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2. Check out his story “Cousin Dora” published in The Flatbush Review.

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