Eric Nguyen

“When I was writing my first novel, Things We Lost to the Water, I was a graduate student in Lake Charles, Louisiana. If a writing session wasn’t going the way I wanted, I went somewhere else. This could have easily been a drive with the windows down, the hot Louisiana air breezing by. But driving took too much concentration along with the fact that the activity always made me anxious. I opted to take walks instead. I lived a mile away from the city’s namesake lake and walked there when I felt like I couldn’t write anymore. I took a notebook on these walks and wrote down small observations—the ducks that swam in the water, the dialogue of people I walked past, the plants nearby. When I got home, I forgot about my manuscript and sat down to annotate my observations: The type of ducks I saw were called Muscovy ducks. A man was telling his daughter that the car was hers now. Where was she heading now that she had the car? The ducks settled themselves at the base of the tree and didn’t let people get near it. I was still writing, but a different type of writing: fragments jotted down that had no expectations of ever amounting to anything. There was a freedom that let me exercise my writing brain without thinking of what I called ‘The Big Project.’ I would come back to my manuscript later the same night for another round of writing. Suddenly, it seemed possible to move forward, the words flowing. Eventually, I bought a bike (which I named Raymond Carver), so I got the effect of the breeze too.”
—Eric Nguyen, author of Things We Lost to the Water (Knopf, 2021) 

Photo credit: Tim Coburn

Writer Photo: 
Writer Photo Credit: 
Tim Coburn

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  • June 23, 2021