Marcy Dermansky is an author and editor residing in Montclair, New Jersey. Her short fiction essays have been published widely in literary journals and collections around the country. She has also written three novels, all of which received critical acclaim, including Twins (2005), a New York Times Editor's Choice Pick, and Bad Marie (2010), one of Esquire's Best Novels of the Year. Her most recent novel, The Red Car, was published in October 2016. We reached out to Marcy to learn what gets her through a busy day of wordsmithing.
SSC: So, what's your story? Tell us a little about what you do, your day job, and your creative projects that make you who you are.
DERMANSKY: I keep asking that myself: what is my story? My third novel The Red Car was released in October. There is such a big build up to that: writing a book, selling it, getting it ready for publication, and then having it be published. I am in the after phase and it is a little bit confusing. I am playing around with new ideas. I have written some short stories.
For my day job, I edit other people’s novels. I am able to work from home and I take my work with me wherever I go. I am able to pick my daughter up from the school bus. I feel like I am helping other people make their books better—often clients get published—and that is satisfying.
Lately, I seem to like making watercolor paintings as much as or maybe more than writing. My journal is also a sketchbook.
SSC: Tell us a little bit about your stationery origin story. When did you realize that paper was more than just paper?
DERMANSKY: I don’t like to go anywhere without a notebook. I don’t need to write in it, but I need to have it. And a big part of my life seems to be taking out my notebook to write in, setting it somewhere in my apartment, and then not being able to find it.
I used to use notebooks with lines, but since I have started drawing, I now use unlined notebooks. I had never been that picky about the paper until I started using watercolors. If I don’t use thick paper, the pages start to seriously crinkle. Which is actually okay. I have started buying large pads of watercolor paper and cutting the sheets into postcard sizes. This is great except that suddenly my notebooks are a lot less interesting. They are filled too much with my own scroll – and lists – and not enough drawing.
I haven’t gotten into ebooks. I lived in Germany for a few of years and it was harder to get hold of the books that I wanted and so I read ebooks on a Kindle, but that stopped as soon as I got back to the States. They never felt like real books to me. I need the nice cover and the turning of the page.
SSC: What are some interesting ways in which you use analog writing/art tools to tell your story?
DERMANSKY: In terms of writing fiction, I am the wrong person for this interview because I do everything on my lap top. The writing. The editing. I sometimes don’t even print drafts out on paper; I can edit on the screen. I know that seems weird, but then, it was amazing to read my novel in my book form. Like, how did that happen?
SSC: What's in your bag or on your desk right now? What's a typical Everyday Carry for you?
DERMANSKY: My bag has my journal—unless I’ve misplaced it—a bunch of different black pens, lip balm, headphones, the book I am reading, usually a bunch of change that has fallen out of my wallet into the bottom of the bag. My keys. My wallet. My laptop. The manuscript I am editing. Sometimes a sweater. It is always much too heavy.
My desk has my computer, old notebooks, bills and papers that are important that I don’t know what to do with. I have pretty things too—a small vase, a wooden pencil box, a picture of me and Nina in a frame. My cats tend to jump on my desk and knock things over which is very irritating.
SSC: Can you walk us through your typical creative process?
DERMANSKY: I like to write in the morning. Most days, I wake up and drink coffee and get my daughter off to school. Then, after she is gone, I start the day over again, make a new pot of coffee. I use a program to turn off the Internet before I begin. A lot of times, I sit on my couch, pull out my notebook, write down a list of the things that I want to accomplish for the day. I like to go back to it and cross things out.
SSC: Okay, obligatory "desert island" question. You only get to have one paper and pen/pencil combination for the rest of your stationery using days, what's it going to be?
DERMANSKY: I have a favorite oversized Moleskin soft journal that has a black leather cover and a pocket in the back. I would take that and some black gel pens.