Lori Strauss began taking a writing class in 2007 a year after her third daughter was born. She has been raising children full time since 2000. As a mother of three young daughters and the wife of a corporate real estate executive she needed a creative outlet. “I have this constant urge to express myself through writing. It continually gnaws at me. I needed direction. Finding a class was the best solution.” Every year as her children get older their schedules change and she attempts to make writing a priority. Before Lori became a homemaker she taught elementary school for a brief period. She also worked as an assistant in a variety of entertainment companies in Los Angeles. Lori has a Bachelors degree in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. While an undergraduate student she interned in the White House during George H.W. Bush’s administration. In 1999 she earned a teaching credential from California State University, Northridge. Lori is a leader of two Girl Scout troops, and a member of a book club that has been together for several years. She is an avid reader of all sorts of subjects. She resides in the Los Angeles area with her husband and daughters.
If you haven't read Lori's entry, check it out here, then c'mon back and join us for our interview with her!
Interview by Jill Earl
WOW: First of all, Lori, thank you for taking time out of your very busy schedule to chat with us. Many congratulations for being a runner-up in our contest! How does it feel?
LORI: It is great to be recognized for my work. I am relatively new to writing and this is the first time I've shared my work outside of a writing class I have been taking on and off for the last few years.
WOW: We’re glad that you stayed with your writing class, because you did such great work in creating your story! Speaking of which, can you tell us a bit about it and what inspired you to write it?
LORI: I was with a dear friend whose husband died in a motorcycle accident and left her with three children to raise on her own. The timing of the accident coincided while we were having an impromptu playdate at another friend's house after school. There were nine kids running around in the backyard letting off steam from a long week and the other moms and I were in the kitchen laughing over an art project my daughter brought home from school. We all dispersed and a few hours later I got the call about the sudden death of my friend's husband. It happened during our visit. Since then I have been haunted by how a person's life can be changed forever while going about their usual routine.
WOW: Thank you for your willingness to share such a difficult time with us. It’s so true that we tend not to realize how quickly life can change for us, until something like what you described happens.
Let’s talk about your writing habits. Can you tell us about them?
LORI: I do my best work when I'm enrolled in a writing class and I have to turn in an assignment.
WOW: Those deadlines can be great motivation to keep one on task when it comes to writing. Now, when you write, do you have a genre that you prefer? How about favorite authors and books?
LORI: A lot of what I write is humorous and related to family life. I went in a different direction with this piece and found that I was capable of creating a chilling story with a lot of tension. When I read it to aloud in my writing class, I had a hard time getting the words out toward the end because it was so dreadful.
I enjoy a variety of subjects when it comes to reading: humor, historical fiction, psychology, parenting, fiction, biography and memoir. I really enjoy books that make me laugh out loud. David Sedaris is one of my favorite humorist writers. Philip Roth's work, Portnoy's Complaint is and hysterically irreverent. I also appreciate the work of Lisa See, Wally Lamb, Jeffrey Eugenides, Anita Diamant, Maile Meloy, Abigail Thomas and Malcolm Gladwell.
WOW: I agree that family life can provide a ready source of inspiration for your writing. And that’s quite a wide variety of authors and reading interests you have, which makes for a well-rounded writer.
How about your writing projects? Do you have any you’re currently working on?
LORI: I'm in the middle of moving right now and that is taking up most of my time.
WOW: A monumental task in itself! Here's hoping that the process will be swift and that you’ll soon be back to your writing. Before we wrap things up, what kind of advice would you give to women writers?
LORI: Find a method that holds you accountable to the writing process either through a class or a writing group. Otherwise I think it's easy to let other parts of your life take over and you end up not accomplishing your goals. I think writers need to find a good support system and a lot of motivation to be productive.
WOW: Duly noted, great advice for all of us! How true that a good support system and motivation can help make a writer more productive, and the writing process so much smoother.
Lori, it was a pleasure chatting with you! Thank you and best of luck with your writing career!