Ayşe Papatya Bucak

How did you become a writer?

Age old story of falling in love with reading and eventually going to an MFA program.

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

Toni Morrison for ambition/scope, Michael Ondaatje for style. A lot of my favorite novels fall into the girl coming of age narrative: Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. My short story influences are Anthony Doerr, John Edgar Wideman, Kelly Link, Aimee Bender, Steven Millhauser.

When and where do you write? 

Some friends of mine, when they had a baby, tried to train the baby to sleep through anything. They refused to be quiet during naps, etc. Eventually they had to give that up—poor baby wasn’t getting any sleep. But I’ve adapted their attitude for my writing. I am capable of getting some work done—maybe just a small bit of work—anywhere at anytime. But my preference is first thing in the morning while everyone else is still asleep.

What are you working on now? 

A novel, but I’m one of those people who prefers not to talk about it. I’m also working on some stories and some essays. I like to have a couple of things going at once, at various stages. A novel alone would be hard for me because it’s a long time before there is a payoff.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

In the sense that I have written poorly or not much for periods of time, yeah, of course. But I never really consider it a block. It feels like a natural ebb and flow to me. Sometimes the writing comes more easily than others. If I am feeling uninspired that can usually be solved by reading, or traveling, or taking a walk. Going to a museum. Doing some research. Sometimes by taking a nap. Or coffee, coffee often helps.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Tortoise beats hare.

What’s your advice to new writers?

Tortoise beats hare.

Ayşe Papatya Bucak is the author of The Trojan War Museum: And Other Stories. She is an associate professor in the MFA program at Florida Atlantic University.