Contributor Rhea DeRose-Weiss On The Catch-22 Of The Writing Life

Rhea DeRose-Weiss recently sat down with Fourteen Hills fiction editor Amy Glasenapp to discuss her story from issue 16.1, "The Neon Artist." Here, she offers insight into her craft practices and talks about how hard it can be to communicate with an audience while at the same time trying to distance yourself from it.

14H: What does it look like where you write? What can and can’t you tolerate in that space?
Rhea DeRose-Weiss: Right now, I write in my bedroom, which is about the size of a shoebox. I’m not a writer who has a routine; I don’t do the things we’re told we need to do -- like write every day, have a routine -- but I’d like to develop that. I’m usually just sitting at my tiny desk in front of my laptop, sometimes with music, sometimes not.

14H: Do you research first or do you just sit down and write, filling in information gaps later?
D-W: Well, I normally just sit down and write. I don’t usually write stories like The Neon Artist, where I’ve incorporated history from past eras, and I was actually trying to remember how that actually happened. I don’t remember what came first. I think the idea of the neon artist came to me and then I went to the library to do some research. I wrote the first version of the story several years ago in grad school. Then I went back to it and revised it and sent it out.

14H: Have you ever attempted a longer work, or do you primarily write short stories?
D-W: I primarily write short stories. I have attempted to write longer things but haven’t finished anything. There’s an idea I’m kicking around for a longer piece. It’s just an idea at this point.

14H: Is writing something you’d like to do professionally?
D-W: At this point, writing fiction is almost dangerously close to being a hobby, but I’d like it to be more of an elemental part of my life, because it’s pretty important to me. A lot of who I am is wrapped up with the idea of being a writer. I’m in my second year of teaching and still just figuring it out. My goal would be to get that balance between teaching and maintaining the regular practice of writing. I would like to put out a collection of stories.

14H: Were you inspired by any particular artists or artistic movements while you were writing The Neon Artist?
D-W: Inspiration? It’s hard to remember, because it’s been a few years. Some inspiration came from my own life and being in school for writing. I remember feeling like writing is a dying art form. Also feeling like the things that make me a writer are also the things that alienate me from the rest of the world. It’s sort of a catch-22, trying to communicate with an audience while distancing myself from people.

You can read the full interview here. You can also watch Rhea perform her story at the release party for issue 16.1 right here.

Rhea Derose-Weiss grew up in North Carolina but does not have a southern accent. She moved to San Francisco in 2004 to complete a Master's in Creative Writing from a school that no longer exists. She now teaches at The Academy of Art University, where she attempts to instill in students the importance of narrative arc and the danger of the comma splice. "The Neon Artist" is the title story of a book-length collection in progress. 

-Editors, Fourteen Hills


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Great interview, love the cover art.

  3. Great interview. It's always nice to hear published writers talk about their writing process and to find that it's really not some mysterious, secret formula after all. It's a great motivator for the rest of us out there.

  4. Neon Artist is one of my favorite short stories in recent memory. Way to go San Francisco and Fourteen Hills literary journal for having an eye for great new work.