Lizzie Reinhard’s story, “Bread, Eggs, Milk,” appears in Sun Star’s Winter Issue. Lizzie earned her MFA from Columbia University. She has been awarded fellowships by Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts and The Catwalk Institue, as well as the Dogwood Prize for Fiction. Her work has appeared in The Seven Hills Review, Juxtaprose Magazine, and is forthcoming in Salamander Magazine. She lives in New York City with her husband and their maniacal Pomeranian, Petunia.
What inspired you to write this work?
Should I be honest? There was a snow storm coming to NYC and I thought it was funny how everyone was “stocking up” as if we wouldn’t be able to leave our homes for days. That might happen some places, but is very rare in NYC. That brought me to the feeling of being trapped, and I decided to trap these two sisters together and see what happens. The other thing that was on my mind, is on my mind, at this age (I’m 30) is that I think we’re all constantly comparing ourselves to others, deciding whether we’re doing better or worse than them to see if we’re on track. I think this can cause us to be blind about the people we’re comparing ourselves too, when they’re our family.
Are there any authors, artists, books, etc. that you feel influence this work or your work in general?
Claire Messud stands out for me. Alice Munro because she’s the master of short stories that seem to be quiet but pack a lot of punch. I was definitely deep in my Elena Ferrante phase when I wrote this, which probably put my focus on female relationships.
Describe your typical writing process.
Pacing around my apartment until I force myself to sit down and write, writing at least one draft that I “don’t care” is bad (but is that ever true), and trying to polish from there.
Do you have a favorite place to write or a peculiar writing habit that you’d like to share?
“Shitty First Drafts” in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird was a great comfort to me. It’s really hard to sit down and write. So if you say: I’m going to write a shitty first draft, that takes a lot of the pressure off!
I also do morning pages a la Julia Cameron. The idea is that you write three pages of blah blah blah whatever to clear your mind, release the ideas that are holding you back from sitting down and writing but I do find that ideas emerge from them. Once I’ve written a full page of, “Ugh my apartment is dusty and I wasted an hour on Facebook,” I find that other thoughts float in, ones that I might not have accessed any other way.
If you could choose to be any nonhuman creature, what would you be and why?
A Pomeranian, because I love them. But honestly? Any! Most don’t overthink things the way we do. They definitely don’t waste hours on Facebook.
This story captures such a complex and individual relationship between sisters. Was it challenging to find the right balance for this relationship in the story? And are there any particular books/stories/poems that you would recommend for capturing the complexity of sibling relationships?
Amy Parker’s “Rainy Season” portrays a sister relationship incredibly – how sisters can be resentful, protective, best friends, and enemies at the same time. The amount of feeling between her two characters is devastating and so real.