Lynn Sloan Midstream Interview on Hypertext

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Hypertext Interview Masthead

Patty begins with how we met: “It was through her photography that I first became acquainted with Lynn Sloan, but it is through her prose that I feel I have come to know her better. Lynn’s latest book, the novel Midstream, is one young woman’s story of a creative life at first abandoned and then—fortunately for us readers—revisited and revised. Polly, the novel’s protagonist, finds herself at the brink of middle age in 1970s Chicago, doing a job that pays the bills, fumbling with a relationship that seems painfully unbalanced, watching (from afar) a dear friend struggle with a serious illness. This is not how she imagined her life would be. The novel retraces her steps to this place and time, and allows Polly a go at another chance.”

I am intrigued with what starts things off for writers when they are working on a project. What was the first impulse of Midstream for you? A character’s voice or an image (or images) maybe? Or perhaps a situation?

My first thought was that I wanted to write a novel, not a story. I’d just published my story collection, This Far Isn’t Far Enough. Wanting to write a novel meant I wanted to spend a long time on a project, which meant I wanted it to be something important to me, but I didn’t have a topic or a situation in mind. I find work life to be extremely interesting and important, but in fiction it usually takes a backseat to relationships. And in real life, a woman’s desire to have a creative work life is often limited or thwarted. I would write about a woman whose primary desire was to have an inventive, purposeful career. Love, family, relationship, these elements could, no, would, be important to my character, but creative work would be key to her identity. Now I needed to find a time or place where this would be a problem. Many options here—almost endless—but I chose the early seventies. My character would not be a feminist, but a woman simply trying to make her way. Then I chose Chicago, because I know Chicago well, and I like the Midwest.