linda2Susan: Linda, your story “The Golden Moment” is a little gem. In five short paragraphs, which is the totality of the story, you manage to give a complete life, plus the hole that exists in every life.  Do you agree with my take on this?

Linda: Thank you Susan. I love this particular little story, it’s one I spent a lot of time with. I think your observation is close to my intention. I wouldn’t say hole so much as space. It seems so much of life (my life, at least) is spent rushing from moment to moment. We juggle the work meetings with the packed lunches and bus departures and arrivals, the grocery store and dry cleaner trips, the band concerts and soccer games. But in the end, in our end, what do we remember? I’d like to think (and hope) it’s those spaces in between the moments. I think of music, the golden moment between the last note still trembling in the air, and then the appreciation of the whole, and it’s that space I recall most as a performer, that anticipation mixed with relief and satisfaction of a song well-played, of imparting something of beauty.

At the same time I wrote this, I was reviewing a critique from an author I very much respect. I had sent him the first 20 pages or so of my second novel, all for a good cause (The DZANC Creative Writing Sessions). He gave me wonderful stuff to ponder, but the take home for me was to make more white space between the scenes. Keep what was essential. The essence. And I keep coming back to that suggestion in my writing, and in my life in general. Space is a tough thing to achieve, though.

Susan: I believe I have stumbled upon one of life’s true optimists.  What I have seen as holes, you see as spaces.  I base my observation on having read many of your stories here and on the groups.  Even when you write about the most serious topics, there is a certain level of buoyancy.  As if you are telling the reader: It’s going to be OK.  Yet it doesn’t diminish the impact of your stories at all.

Your first paragraph, last line of “The Golden Moment,” you write:  I lower the bow, and the hall thunders.

Wow!  It doesn’t get more positive than that!  When writing this story were you consciously aware of how that line segued into the sensibility of the next (rather dark) paragraph?

Linda: An optimist? Hmm… that’s interesting – my husband calls me a worrywart. Which I am about all the stuff I can’t control. But those things which I can control, I guess I am pretty optimistic, largely because I have a choice: operate out of fear or love. I try to make choices that align with love but, of course, I’m human and stumble all the time. But when I have some control (or think I do), I tend to operate on a cup-half-full basis.

I love your comment about buoyancy. I could stop writing now and feel I’ve accomplished something, so thank you! Life is so blasted hard and complicated, and the tangles get worse as we age, but there’s so much beauty, too. So much to live for.  I believe when you’ve been at the spot when you think life is not worthwhile, and then you find your way back, you tend to have that experience shimmer throughout your outlook and your writings. To be an optimist is really hard work – it is so much easier to slide into dark spaces. I fight the demons of negativity all the time, and I think it reflects in my writing.

Your observation about the last line of the first paragraph doing a segue into the second paragraph interests me, because I did not consciously think through the placement of those first two paragraphs. I mucked around with the positions of the remaining three, but not those two (and I actually at one time had 7 drafts). So your observation excites me (yay for the subconscious – it works, it really, really works!). What strikes me about the musical golden moment and September 11 is that on that tragic day, the silence in the sky deafened. I live 40 miles from DC and the same from Camp David, and I remember standing alone in my backyard, staring at the perfect brilliant sky, and waiting for a jet to explode that very extended golden moment. There was a grace that day about the sky’s silence, a sort of prayer.

Susan:  A sort of prayer is what hit me also throughout the piece.   There is a hush over each part, despite the intense energy, and a musical quality that ebbs and flows.  In the second part you write:  Planes careen into fields and skyscrapers, a cacophony of metal and fire.

It brought to mind Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves.”  Not in content, but the way the energy of this piece works.  Did you have any sense or physical sensation of water, the ocean, perhaps, when writing “The Golden Moment?”

Linda: Ah, once again the subconscious kicks in. To answer your question – no, I was not conscious of water, the lilt of the sea, when writing this story. But while writing, I did experience the sensation of being submerged, of all these events muffled, the way sensations of hearing and feeling distort and go quiet while under water.

I’ve been told much of my prose has a poetic movement to it. I love the rhythm of words, alone and in combination, and perhaps that is what you perceive here. Which is fine for short pieces, I guess, but deadly for novels (or so I’m told!). In my longer writings, I’m striving for transparency, and sparseness. Purity, I guess.

Susan: Well from my experience with the commercial publishing industry, everything is deadly for novels.  So I wouldn’t even give that a thought.  You have to do what feels right intuitively, I believe, and then use your craft and just let the novel rip out of you the way you, Linda, let the child come into the world in your third paragraph:  The surgeon reaches into my abdomen and your head crowns, waxed with blood.

“Waxed with blood” is an astonishing phrase.  It conjures up a waxed apple, perfect and beautiful.  Definite purity.

Read The Golden Moment by Linda Simoni-Wastila

  1. Jane Hammons

    As always a wonderful interview, Susan. And this one with Linda is particularly inspirational–not a surprise given Linda’s approach to life and writing. I go into my day thinking about those white spaces.

  2. Kathy Fish

    Terrific interview and what a lovely photo. Thank you, Susan and Linda.

  3. Jen

    Love this interview, Linda! Am going to paste a link on the jmww blog.

  4. Paige von Liber

    Linda is gifted and the way she can move me from one sentence to another is musical.

    Thank you for your interview and thank you Linda for the heart you put into the writing field

  5. James Lloyd Davis

    Fantastic interview. Linda points out a fine concept in terms of writing novels, the creation of white spaces.

    I’ll be back to read this again. Thank you Susan, for another fine interview and thank you, Linda, for sharing your ideas so freely and with such rare eloquence.

  6. Marcus Speh

    beautiful story that i had almost overlooked, great interview. feeling inspired, thank you. will repost at kaffe in katmandu, too.

  7. susan tepper

    Ah, yes, the golden words: repost in Kaffe Katmandu.
    Thanks to everybody who has responded so far to Linda’s chat!

  8. Doug Bond

    Thank you Susan and Linda for an expertly orchestrated interview and a wonderfully buoyant framing to life as we live it and as we hope to reflect it in art. Linda, your line re: 9/11 will stay with me for a long time: There was a grace that day about the sky’s silence, a sort of prayer.

  9. Robert Vaughan

    Pitch perfect, this interview. Thanks Linda for unveiling even more of your special soul, and Susan for adding more to the mix.

  10. J.C.Towler, Jr

    I enjoyed reading your interview, Linda. Too bad you can bottle that subconscious and pop the cork on demand, but it seems to work well enough when left to its own devices.

  11. J. Mykell Collinz

    Good chat. Enjoyed it.

  12. Ramon Collins

    A concert, indeed; Susan’s final swipe with the interview baton, Linda’s last draw of the bow — “I’m striving for transparency, and sparseness. Purity, I guess.” — then silence.


  13. LindaS-W

    Susan, thank you for inviting me for your interview, and for asking the most delicious questions! We had fun cramming before the snowstorm hit!

    And thank you all for taking the time to read and chime in here, and on THE GOLDEN MOMENT. I value all of you — and fictionaut — more than you might suspect. Peace…

  14. michael j. solender

    buoyancy – indeed.

    i know linda to be a supportive colleague , writing foil, intense craftswoman and all around swell. great chat. great writer.

  15. estelle bruno

    This is one powerful chat. You are both interesting and brilliant.

  16. susan tepper

    Nice of jmww to push the Chat, many thanks for that ed’s.

  17. Mark Kerstetter

    There’s poetry here in your comments too, the way you describe the sky on Sept 11th as grace. I’m going to remember that.

  18. Walter Bjorkman

    Great interview with one of the writers I most enjoy reading and hearing her take on mine. Outlook determines everything, and Linda’s is the half full not empty view, yet without ignoring the difficulties in life. Tough o do but she does it, and it comes through here.

  19. meg pokrass

    this is marvelous. Linda is a treasure to this community and just so honest. Great, great work both of you!

  20. Cathy Webster

    Loved this interview – it was like listening in on a great conversation. Linda is definitely one of the most interesting people I know. Like Mark, I was blown away by the vision of you staring into the quiet sky, enveloped in silent spirituality, waiting for the sound that would change everything.

  21. Gloria Mindock

    Wonderful chat. This was exquisite, loved it!

  22. Jodi MacArthur

    It is so neat to see your wonderful mind celebrated with curiosity in this interview. I love this short story, and its not just because I am biased towards your writing voice or the voice of the cello. ;-)

  23. susan tepper

    Wonderful Chat with Linda, and I thank her and everyone who read and commented here.

  24. Quenby Larsen

    Really great interview. Really excellent piece by Linda. Wow! Thank you!

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