Noah Berlatsky

How did you become a writer?

I've wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, just about. I got a creative writing degree in college, and when I got out I failed at being a poet and then failed at writing zines. I started doing freelance criticism and arts writing and blogging, and haven't failed at that yet, so here we are.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

I had a wonderful third grade teacher, Mrs. Stone, who encouraged me to write and told me I was good at it; I'm still thankful for that. As far as writers, James Baldwin is certainly a hero of mine; he's someone who believed, and demonstrated, that criticism could be art. Carol Clover, Sharon Marcus, and Julia Serano are all folks whose work has inspired mine. And of course William Marston and Harry Peter, the creators of the original Wonder Woman comic; I love their work so much I wrote a book about it.

When and where do you write? 

Writing’s a job. I work from home and write every day, sometimes work for hire, sometimes criticism or essays, often both.

What are you working on now? 

My current gigs are working on articles for a business/economics encyclopedia and an online literature study guide. I'm always working on articles and criticism of various sorts. I also have a couple of potential book projects percolating that may or may not happen.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

When I was working on poetry and fiction, I'd sometimes get stuck. That hasn't happened in a long while though. Again, I write every day, and if I don't write the bills don't get paid, so you learn to forge ahead, and if it's not perfect…well you finish it anyway, and move on to the next thing.

What’s your advice to new writers?

Read a lot, practice, and remember that success in anything involves a lot of luck, of various sorts. Folks will tell you that if you really want to be a writer, you'll be one, and that if you don't end up as one, it was because you didn't want it enough. This is nonsense. You try your best, and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't, often depending on whether you know the right people, are in the right place at the right time, and/or have enough resources that you can afford to take risks and not earn a whole lot while you struggle to get your feet. Think of writing as any other job, not as a spiritual calling. And think broadly about what being a writer can mean. Work-for-hire isn't necessarily very glamorous, but it's a living.

Noah Berlatsky has written for The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Reason, and Splice Today, among other venues. He is the editor of the comics and culture blog The Hooded Utilitarian. His book Wonder Woman: Bondage and Feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948, is out in January 2015 from Rutgers University Press.