Melissa Lion 3 February 2008
Professional Writer: Fiction, Food and Sex
Melissa Lion is a professional writer. She is the author of two novels, Swollen and Upstream, both published by Random House. Upstream is under option for a motion picture. She is currently under contract for a third novel with Random House.
She writes about food for the Willamette Week and Culinate. She writes the weekly sex column, Sticky Pages, for Bookslut. She blogs at Metroblogging Portland, where she clarifies the difference between a Frenchini and a Brazilian Wax and confuses ducks with Canadian Geese.
Originally from San Diego, her first solid meal was Mexican food. She consumes more Mexican food than her Mexican boyfriend. She moved to San Francisco at 18, to pursue her BA and to be on as many guest lists as possible. She received her BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State, and her MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College of California. She was on a fair amount of guest lists.
She has taught courses on Food Politics at St. Mary’s College and Pepperdine, where she also taught Creative Writing.
She has lived in a barn in Oakland, a travel trailer in Malibu, but her little house in St. John’s is the first actual house she’s ever lived in. She’s thirty-two years old and has a two-year old who never wears a jacket and a boyfriend who has never deviated from a recipe. She finds both qualities at once maddening and charming. But mostly maddening.
What are you up to?
I write 1000 words a day for my third Young Adult novel. It’s sort of brutal, but I’ll have a finished first draft by the middle of February.
I am also in the midst of my own NaNoWriMo type activity. I call it NaStoPiMo. That’s National Story Pitching Month. I pitch a story to a different publication every day. This has led to many deadlines, which is very good for a freelance writer.
I blog at my personal website every day. I love blogs and I love blogs even more that are updated regularly. I like to blog it forward, as it were.
What are you into?
I knit. I just cast on for a plain stockinette sock using Noro’s new sock yarn. So far, so yummy.
I drink too much Ahmad Assam Golden Tippy Long Leaf tea. I drink too much of Portland’s fine beer.
I pay too much attention to Twitter, and blogs. To balance this out, I have no profile on MySpace or Facebook.
I’d like to speak Farsi and bake something every single day.
The Kinks haven’t left my iTunes for days. I think it’s making me weepy.
What do you like most about Portland?
I love the people. I love that everyone is so open and friendly.
I love the trees. Running errands around St. John’s, I’m often stunned by the view of Forest Park across the river.
I love the beer too much.
I love the weather. I come from Southern California, where I found the constant sun oppressive. I love that the rain here makes the sunshine all the more special.
How could you quit a regular paycheck and become a professional writer?
I wanted to be anything but a writer. I wanted to open a chocolate shop, go to cooking school, be a publishing rep, anything at all, except be a writer.
But I already had two books published and I realized that I had a career that was well on its way. Why would I give that up? What’s more, my career was stalled and neglected and cob-webby. So I dusted it off, and started working every single day on being a writer. This means I write every day. I email people, I invite people to coffee, I pitch, I write, I read. I have little free time but every moment of the day, a portion of my brain is working on writing.
I was able to quit my job because I had a bit of money saved. I am not rich. My family and I lived for a year in a travel trailer in the middle of an orchard. We have no TV and this helps us live very frugally.
I am also very careful with what I write. My personal blog has become a challenge because I know people for whom I want to write read it. So that means no more personal drama, just writing drama and knitting and cooking. I have no outlet for my personal stuff, so maybe when I have a moment, I’ll start a secret blog. No, I think that’s too much.
I also thank everyone and everything all the time. I say thank you more than anything else. I have a lot to be grateful for. Thank you to Portland on Fire!
How do you do all this when you have a two-year old and a boyfriend who works full-time?
I am often up until midnight working. I wake at 7 am. I write during naps. I’ve become a fast writer.
I haven’t read a book for pleasure in months. I have so little free time, I can measure it in fifteen minute intervals. I also grew up in a home where sitting on the couch, or napping was “against the law,” to quote my mom.
But there is a moment every single day when I turn up the music and I dance my ass off.