Linda Presto holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a freelance writer, business owner, and adjunct English professor in northern New Jersey. Her piece, ‘The Lingering of May 21st’, can be found in EPOCH Issue 02: Aftermath, available to purchase here.
What books did you grow up reading?
Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s me, Margaret was my first favourite. I appreciated characters I could relate to, like Margaret and Ramona Quimby, guides for a young girl trying to make it through middle school. Into my teens, I grew to like the thrillers and mysteries of Stephen King and Agatha Christie. My first job as an Editorial Assistant grew into an interest in Journalism and authors like Joan Didion and John Krakauer, who were part of a wave that brought an essayistic quality to journalism and through them my love of the personal essay was born. I have always enjoyed the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain, but also love reading more contemporary essays and literary journals where writers meander through their thoughts and feelings to a place of understanding and, hopefully, acceptance.
What is the most challenging aspect of your creative process?
Battling fear and doubt has been a lifelong challenge for me as a writer. I have allowed rejections and criticisms to steal precious years from my writing habit at times, but desire and maturity guided me forward still. It has taken many years to emerge from the ‘imposter syndrome’ thinking to one of a confident writer. On occasion, I still have lingering doubts that my work is trivial or inconsequential, but I am better at dispelling them now using a combination of meditation, self-talk, and the support of a great writing community.
What does your writing space look like?
I adore my writing space! I work in a small room with bohemian accoutrements, photos of the people I love, my grandmother’s secretary desk, and an abundance of books. My space doubles as an office where I teach and tutor online (at least for now). For writing, I added a mattress on the floor topped with an array of blankets and pillows and a lap desk. Baskets of papers, pens, folders, and manuscripts at varying stages decorate the floor. My Bluetooth speaker plays 70s music, and, on days when my muse is silent, a vision board in clear sight reminds me of my goals. I call the space my genie bottle with Wi-Fi. Personal space is one of the reasons I have been more prolific and creative in the last year; I believe Virginia Woolf was correct in her assertion: “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” and would merely add it is true of nonfiction as well.
Who is your biggest artistic supporter?
My mother. I am the third in a succession of female storytellers in my family, each with her own unique style and purpose. My grandmother, who lived with us throughout my childhood, loved to tell me parables and stories with moral value; it was like living with Jesus in my home. My mother wrote personal narration of real-life events and people: creative nonfiction essay that she called simply, “my stories.” The fourth generation of women writers continues with my daughter who also writes nonfiction. I carry all these women and their stories with me today in everything I write.
Where can we follow you and find your work?
My website and portfolio are available at: https://lindapresto.com
My Twitter handle is: @LindaRPresto