Sara Landers is an empty nester who over the years has been a shampoo girl, a waitress, a cashier, a vault and safe technician, an appliance parts coordinator, and a school bus driver. She loves how varied and diverse her job choices have been. Each one has given her new material for the one title she’s wanted forever, her holy grail of professions: writer. In 2020 she earned a later-in-life BA in English and Creative writing and has been spending much of the pandemic with new titles such as loafer, dreamer, idler, crafter, crazy plant lady, and bookworm (which isn’t actually new). But she has also finally written things that other people want to read and so these days she considers herself a writer, most of the time. Her short stories have been published in The Tiny Journal, Marathon Literary Review, and Spank the Carp. She is currently working on a novel.
Sara's work appeared in Pond 63
Why do you write?
I write because it must come out of me. It’s how I understand and cope with the world, my place in it, and the actions of everyone and everything around me. If I’m struggling to find peace with anything at all: the situation of a nation or the loud arguing I hear coming from across the street or a relative’s death, and I write about it, I understand it better. Or at least I find a comfortable place to coexist with it.
What other creative activities are you involved in?
So many! I don’t do anything else as regularly or with as much passion as writing but I like to scrapbook, draw, paint, color, sew, make paper crafts, paint old furniture, take pictures, and the list goes on. I learned how to sew within the past three years and I’ve really been into that lately, do you or anyone you know need any cute little zipper pouches or funky cloth napkins because my house is overflowing with them now.
Who is your favorite author and why?
This is an easy question yet the answer doesn’t tell the whole story. Elizabeth Berg is, and has been for many years, my favorite author. Her books are like cozy nights under the covers with fresh sheets and a bright moon through the window. They make me happy. But I am a voracious reader and love the works and style of so many other authors. I don’t think we have the time or space for me to say enough about them all. John Steinbeck, Elizabeth Strout, James Baldwin, Sherman Alexie, Elizabeth Gilbert (The Signature of All Things, HOLY SMOKES!), Anne Tyler, Jodi Picoult, Ann Hood, Frank McCourt, Khaled Hosseini, okay okay I’ll stop.
Tell us about the mechanics of how you write.
I start with one concept, it could be a scene I envisioned in my head, a specific character, or even a single line of dialogue. I brainstorm as much and as long as I can without judgement or editing and see what direction it takes. When I have an idea for what story I’m going to tell I try to write without self-editing and as Stephen King would say “with the door closed” but I’m not great at that. And so I usually end up doing a chapter or two then revising, doing another then revising and so on. I’m finding that it’s very hard to keep imaginary critical voices from injecting their unwanted opinions during the long writing process for a novel. It’s easier for short stories.
Finally, what do you think about Carp, the fish, not our website?
I didn’t know a single thing about carp before finding this magazine. Of course I googled them and it seems they are rather invasive and troublesome but also beautiful and soothing when in ponds as the subspecies Koi. And so I’d say that we all are carp, which sounds awfully cliché, but I’ll stand by it. Some people are inspired by great historical thinkers, by art, by music, it doesn’t matter what the source of the inspiration is, what matters is what we take from it. And so if we can look at these scaly little creatures and know that they can be beautiful and terrible at the same time, just like we are, then we can honestly say, we’ve all got a little carp in us.