Remembering love with Jody Lisberger
“Write a story that really matters to you,” said Jody Lisberger, associate professor and director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program at University of Rhode Island. Jody was inspired to write short stories that mattered to her, and her inspirations manifested themselves in her collection of short stories, Remember Love. A podcast of the conversation is below.
Kennedy Library remembered love last Friday, Feb 7 by welcoming Jody, who received the Susan Currier Visiting Professorship for Teaching Excellence from Cal Poly for 2013-2014. She was in conversation with Debra Valencia-Laver, associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and a professor in the Psychology & Child Development Department.
Jody’s writing process
“We take the little gems from our life experience and use that to write the stories,” Jody said.
Jody started writing later in life, around the age of 45. Her first story written in this collection, “Bush Beating,” caught the eye of an agent in New York when he read it in a literary journal. He asked Jody for more stories, which she readily supplied. She re-wrote and changed the stories for him over the course of a few years, only for him to become uninterested. Jody took in this disappointing experience as a learning experience: write stories that matter to you and don’t change them too much for someone else.
“A big takeaway I got was to stay true to what you want to write,” said Jackie Fleming, a student at Cal Poly.
So Jody spent the next 2-3 years re-writing her stories again. Only this time she wrote them exactly how she wanted them to be.
More about Remember Love
By the title, you would expect the stories to be about two people falling in love and living happily ever after. However, don’t judge the book by its title!
“These aren’t really happy stories; they’re emotional. But there is humor intertwined,” Debra said about the stories.
Jody has a compassionate view of her characters, and she felt that being humorous was something her characters needed in the serious situations. She tried to capture both the funny and the serious side in her stories.
“People think I’m so serious, but I’m having a great time,” Jody said.
There 9 stories. Three are about adolescents, three are about middle-aged people and the last three are about older people. All of the stories are about the different forms love can take in different relationships.
An interesting question from the audience to Jody was, how do you measure success?
“I hope to measure my success in a a six figure advance and a movie to go along with it,” she joked.
Jody truly measures her success in her ability to write it and finish it. She says there’s about a 1% chance of being published as a fiction writer, so her success is her ability to get something done. However, her ability to create is what matters more.
“Writing is what makes me tick, so I measure my success in my heartbeat,” Jody said.
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