Rising Phoenix Judge Laurie Notaro

Rising Phoenix Judge Laurie Notaro

Hello everyone! It’s time to meet our second Rising Phoenix Judge: Laurie Notaro – the judge for the Nonfiction genre!

Laurie Notaro, Courtesy of Sheepshead Review

Laurie Notaro is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of fourteen books. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, and mentors college writers at the University of Oregon.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am currently writing a book for Little A about Gen X aging… It’s called Girl Gone Grey and tells you all of the secrets that no one mentions about getting older. When punk rock meets Icy Hot…..

Did any of the Rising Phoenix selections inspire anything new for you?

Oh, absolutely It made me want to write some short stories–I haven’t done fiction in several years. I really miss it!

What made you decide to judge the Rising Phoenix contest for this issue?

Well, you …asked me. 🙂 And I love supporting young writers.

What made you decide to pursue writing as a career? Did anyone inspire you? How did you overcome criticism or people who doubted you?

I pursued writing as a career because I was a terrible artist and I can’t sing. I also got too fat for ballet. But it was what I knew how to do, and I was always drawn back to it, again and again, no matter how hard I tried to do something else.

I suppose I was inspired by the Little House books when I was in elementary school. I loved how reading a book was like watching a movie in my head. I am still astounded by that! 

If you do decide to become a writer, the simple fact that you get criticised by everyone–even someone you had an argument with on Facebook. They’ll go straight to Amazon and leave you a terrible review. You can’t be soft. You have to really believe in doing good work and putting your best out there, and when you get feedback, listen to it. Some of it will be horribly wrong, but every now and then, you’ll get a good piece of advice. Always remember, though, that your name is on a piece, and that will always mean to put your best work forward.


What elements inspire your writing?

Humiliation. Once I write about bing humiliated or doing something stupid, it’s like washing it away if I can get someone else to laugh at it. Once that happens, I wear that event like a badge of pride. If I cn make anyone lese feel better about the stupid things they do, then that’s totally a win even if I have to expose some preety embarassing things.


Do you have any advice for those who want to pursue a career in the arts?

Grow a very thick skin: know that at the beginning of your career, you won’t get paid for a lot of the work you do; your first job will suck, but there are always good things you can pull out of any experience. Keep that at the forefront of your mind. If you really love being an artist or writer, you can’t ever give up. The world will throw things at you on a daily basis. You will have a million reasons to give up. But if you do, then the arts aren’t for you. It is not an easy life. But you will only achieve success if you keep at it. No editor ever called a writer and said, “You know the book you have half done sitting in your drawer for three years? I want to publish it!” You always have to work at what you love. When you get to do that for most of your life, that is success.



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