Carissa Halston is the author of a novella, The Mere Weight of Words, and a novel, A Girl Named Charlie Lester. Her shorter fiction has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Wigleaf, kill author, Precipitate, and Consequence. She currently lives in Boston where she edits a journal called apt, hosts a quarterly reading series called Literary Firsts, and is at work on a novel called Conjoined States.
An excerpt from The Mere Weight of Words appears in Issue Thirty-Five of The Collagist.
Here, Carissa Halston answers questions "in the form of excerpts" -- with further excerpts from The Mere Weight of Words. Enjoy!
1. What is writing like?
How I reveled in the existence of the International Phonetic Alphabet, how well its symbols fit my mouth. I used to read them aloud, believing that if I could pronounce them all, I could make any word in any language come true—or at least sound true. Drunk with the power of speech, I fell steadfastly in love with a field I knew nearly nothing about. I would be a phonetician. It seemed the surest thing in the world.
2. What isn’t writing like?
I hate cake. Its form nauseates me. Hiding in a guileful happiness, it purports a celebratory aura, sometimes being so bold as to boast sprinkles. But as soon as it enters your mouth, it enters your system, and, ultimately, your life, bringing its insidious crystalline glucose in tow.
3. When you do it, why?
I clutched their unwritten gesture, gripped it next to my heart. Its edges fluttered when pinned to my pulse, beating a rapid cadence, so charged was the setting and each glance and the often uttered notion, “What next?” Everyone had asked in one way or other. Somehow, graduation hadn’t been enough. It lacked finality. We remained unfinished, unending. Something was sure to follow, if only it would reveal itself.
4. When you don’t, why?
These memories irk me. They’re akin to reading loose where the word should be lose.