Meet Lindsay Shlegel
Tell us a little about yourself
I am Lindsay Schlegel, and I’m a daughter of God, wife to my favorite person on the planet, and mom to four kiddos here and one upstairs. I write for a couple of sites online (including Verily and Natural Womanhood), had my first book published by Ave Maria Press last summer (you’ll know it by the hot pink cupcake on the cover), and I edit for Little Lamb Books, which publishes fabulous Christian books for kids of all ages. When I’m not on the couch, typing away on my story or someone else’s, I run, knit, and sneak chocolate if my kids aren’t looking.
Tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now? How does it influence your writing?
Where I grew up is the same place I live right now! I met my husband at our high school youth group, and we’ve been together for over 15 years. We went to college in Boston, then lived in NYC for four years after we got married. We’ve been back in New Jersey for six years and are so grateful for the amazing community we live in and for how we’ve been able to grow into it as adults. My stories tend to focus on domestic scenes, so my upbringing and current environment played a role that way. In Brooklyn, I joined a writers critique group, to which I still contribute remotely. That group has had an enormous impact on the strength of my fiction, though there is always more room to grow.
How did you get started writing?
I have always loved books, but for a long time, I didn’t think I’d actually be a published writer. I took only one creative writing class in high school, second semester senior year. I did the same thing in college. After graduation, I wrote some, but got serious when I started a little-known blog during my first pregnancy. It was then, too, that I started work on a novel that is dear to me. Over time, I started to submit nonfiction work and found a couple of places to contribute. I am so thrilled that Ever Eden exists—having my fiction published here is totally a dream come true.
What does your writing routine look like?
Most of my writing happens early in the morning or after the kids are in bed. Sometimes our family gets into the habit of me going out on Saturday mornings to get some work done, but that’s happened less since our fourth child was born (and he’s almost a year and a half old!). Because I don’t have regular time to write these days, I try to use spare moments—driving, folding laundry, cooking—to think about my stories’ progress, what’s not working, and how I can fix it. That critique group I mentioned is crucial to getting me to stick to an otherwise self-imposed deadline, and their encouragement and constructive criticism keep me going in a stage of life when it would be easy to let writing go.
What are some things you do to get yourself in creative thinking mode?
Chocolate helps. Seriously, though, I try to find a comfortable space in the house, have a little sweet snack, and stay as focused as possible for as long as possible. I try to be aware of what I read or view right before I write creatively, since I know (and studies have shown!) that whatever we do beforehand affects the sentence structure, etc. of what we craft. If a writing session is going to be successful, then I need to have a plan ahead of time as to what I want to accomplish, even if I’m not sure how I’m going to do it.
Which authors inspire you and your writing? What about them particularly moves you?
Marilynne Robinson’s novel Gilead is just so beautiful. I love that the setting is simple, and the relationships don’t seem dramatic. She takes the ordinary and brings out the extraordinary in it. I also love some of the essays in Ann Patchett’s book This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage; it was her writing that convinced me of the virtues of writing nonfiction and fiction simultaneously. I’m still working on fully appreciating Flannery O’Connor’s short stories, but I am all in for her essays in Mystery and Manners. Other favorite books are How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. They’re not at all like the stories I write, but they are lyrical and surprising and feel so gorgeously real.
What was the inspiration for the piece included in our issue?
My story We Come Here to Live, which is in Summer 2019, Issue 01, was inspired by my ninety-eight-year-old grandmother’s three months in a hospice facility before she passed away. We thought she’d only be there a day or two, but we ended up with weeks where she was still herself, telling stories, laughing, smiling, and enjoying my young kids. While the romance in the story is not based on my experience, I was interested in what it means to live and what it means to die and what happens when we put those seemingly disparate experiences right up next to each other.
Cheers to Fifty Years is in Fall 2019, Issue 02. The characters are twice my age. My critique group has noticed I have a tendency to write about senior citizens; we’re not entirely sure why. Here, I wanted to see what it looked like for an infidelity to fly under the radar for a significant period of time. What happens if we don’t have those big, hard conversations? How long can something lie under the surface before something changes, before something explodes? And what does that explosion look like? Might it be different than we’d think?