Zoë Bossiere is a doctoral candidate at Ohio University, where she studies and teaches creative writing and rhetoric & composition. She is the managing editor of Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, and the co-editor of its anthology, The Best of Brevity (Rose Metal Press, 2020). She is also an interview podcast host for the New Books Network.
1. What writer do you want to be when you grow up?
I’d like to be a morning writer. One of those people who gets out of bed at the crack of dawn and writes as the sun comes up. As it is, I can’t enter that creative headspace until 11am at least. In my unproductive early hours, I consider the discipline of Annie Dillard, who could set a clock by her writing schedule and denied herself even a view at her desk. In The Writing Life, she recounts how, “by lamplight, I taped my drawing to the closed blind. There, on the drawing, was the window’s view: cows, parking lot, hilltop, and sky. If I wanted a sense of the world, I could look at the stylized outline drawing.” Sounds a little severe. I’d be happy if I could start writing by 9.
2. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
Well, I just finished a full draft of the memoir I’ve been working on for some time. The book centers my experiences as a young trans* boy struggling to reconcile the truth of his body with his queer sense of self, all while coming of age in a Tucson, Arizona trailer park. As a genderfluid person, sharing this story is exciting and terrifying all at once. A few excerpts have been published in Guernica, The Rumpus, and ALR, among other places.
3. Who do you trust with your drafts and why?
I was talking to my friend Sarah about this the other day! We both agreed that writing workshops are just as much about finding good readers for your work as they are about the feedback. Since workshops can be such hostile spaces to so many writers—especially those who are queer, of color, and/or women—it’s important to hang on to those kind, wise, generous people whose writing you mutually admire. I’ve met a handful of amazing writer friends this way I can call on to read my drafts, and who call on me in return.
4. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?
The most enduring writing advice I’ve received wasn’t really advice at all, but rather a community-minded work ethic. One of my earliest writing teachers and mentors, Ander Monson, was the first (but not the last!) to encourage me to get involved with editorial work and other literary projects beyond the scope of my own writing. He wrote an essay on giving back to the community called “On Paying Attention” which I revisit at least once a year. Most of what I do as a teacher, writer, editor, podcast host, and community member is modeled after this ethos.
5. What’s your go to recommendation to read when somebody says “I’m not sure about this whole nonfiction thing?” Why? What do you hope it shows them? What about it excites you?
Honestly, my go-to for people who don’t read creative nonfiction is Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction (brevitymag.com). For those who prefer print, we also have an anthology, The Best of Brevity, newly available from Rose Metal Press.