An Interview with Jacqueline Rosenbaum

Congratulations on the publication of Tennis Lessons featured in the 2018 issue of From the Depths and now in SPLASH! Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I am originally from Long Island, went to college in upstate New York, and spent many summers (and one full year) living in New York City, so I like to say that I am from all over New York. I have recently moved to Boston to pursue my MFA in Fiction from UMass Boston, and I am really loving my New England, writerly life.

What inspired you to write this particular piece?
Tennis Lessons was inspired by one of those childhood memories that haunts you until you learn how to make sense of it. In this particular case, I couldn’t make sense of the memory until I was able to finally write the ending.

What fuels your writing? Where do you typically find your ideas and inspiration?
I am most inspired by those moments when writing feels like a release rather than a grasping, if that makes sense. On a more academic level, something I am working on is the duality of perspective—specifically a child’s perspective alongside an adult’s perspective.

What is your writing day like? Is there a particular environment that stimulates your creativity? Do you have any writing routines or rituals that you practice?
Unfortunately, I usually wait to write until it feels like I am writing out of desperation, but the locale is important. When I am finally ready to write, I park myself in my writing nook—a corner of my apartment where the WiFi is feeble. It has a fluffy, reclining chair, and when I sit in it at just the right angle, looking out the window makes me feel as if my apartment is floating in the sky.

FROM THE DEPTHS 2018What is your writing kryptonite?
I have two that are equally heinous. The first is that I cannot get control of my tenses, and the second is that I tend not to edit. If a piece isn’t working for me, I don’t let it breathe or walk away from it—I start over and over and over again.

How long have you been writing? Was there a defining moment that led you down this path or a person who encouraged or helped shape you as a writer?
In my Junior year of High School, we were tasked with writing a personal essay, and it was the first time I was forced to look within myself for inspiration. It was undoubtedly the moment I realized I needed to write in order to be happy. The second moment was during my first semester at the MFA program, where our professor, Joan Wickersham, took one look at my piece and helped me identify the places where I was getting in my own way. It was her guidance that allowed me to start thinking about what kind of writer I wanted to become.

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing?
Authors like Stephen Chbosky, Ned Vizzini, Jeffrey Eugenides, and other authors of crossover-YA novels, were very influential to me as an emerging writer, because they helped me understand how, one day, I might begin to write my own story. As I learn more about my own writing process and what I am interested in, I find myself looking more towards authors like Cheryl Strayed and Carmen Maria Machado.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado, and am currently half way through The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion.

What other forms and genres do you enjoy writing?
I actually wrote strictly poetry up until I joined the MFA program. There was one longer piece that I was writing, and I used what I had of that manuscript to apply to MFA programs in fiction, with the hope that the classes and workshops would give me the guidance and peer support that I needed to finish the project.

Of your other published works, do you have a personal favorite you would like to share with our readers? Where can we find it?
This is my first published piece, and therefore my favorite!


If you are stuck on a story, throw it away and start over again. Write until your heart lets out a deep sigh.

—Jacqueline Rosenbaum



What’s next? Do you have any writing projects on the horizon?
My goals are to get more short stories published, and then begin working on my MFA thesis next year.

What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?
I have many, but this one is a favorite, “I’m a human being and, actually, can feel two things at once.”

If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
If you are stuck on a story, throw it away and start over again. Write until your heart lets out a deep sigh. If you don’t smile in spite of yourself while reading the piece back, it means you didn’t write well enough. Strive to get the dirt on the page, and let the ending be messy. Find at least one person who knows how to read your work and how to critique it. Learn when to take their advice and when to dig your heels in.



About the Author

Jacqueline Rosenbaum is currently living in Boston and pursuing her MFA in Fiction at UMass Boston. She is originally from New York—Long Island, NYC, and the Hudson Valley—and is celebrating her first published piece.

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