Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writer Wednesday - Lisa Carnochan

I've been reading Lisa's blog, Amid Privilege, for many years. Her writing has always struck me with a lightness, even as she's discussing serious topics, and I've benefitted from her wisdom (sartorial and otherwise) many times. I wanted to write here that she's reinvented herself many times, but I think actually she has just shared many sides of herself, a rare and brave thing on the internet these days. I hope you'll appreciate that and have a visit to her site when you're done reading here!


Who are you? 58­-year-old recently remarried mother of 2 adult children, former executive in the software industry, blog author.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you. They want all the details. If not, tell the hot­tub­stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. I struggle with that. Usually, in commercial situations, I position my blog as restrained luxury for women over 40—a niche which segments and monetizes well. I don’t know how anyone in the industry might actually describe what I do, and it feels weird to stand outside my writing and examine it as though it matters.

If I felt safe, I might tell my hot tub friend, “Imagine someone impatient with imprecision and platitudes but good with words and design. Someone come late in life to a an attempt at virtue, who wants, even so, to honor a family culture of luxury. Someone who grew up in privilege, and rather than deny it, tries to expand the definition. Now imagine that person writes a lifestyle blog.”

And then I’d quickly offer another drink, and change the subject. “But enough about me. How’s your new project coming along?”

Later, I might even say, “I do intellectual luxury.” But dear lord nobody loves an intellectual.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? During a break in my career, in 2009, I’d been working with a team of Asian­-Americans, the first people ever to ask me openly about my High WASP family. It dawned on me how much of how I approach to the world resulted from culture rather than private fantasy. High WASPs don’t usually like to talk about their ways, which are fraught with privilege and class distinctions, so it was quite liberating to launch into a loving exposé. As readership grew, I realized that it's good to write in a niche. Style came naturally, High WASPs have refined their taste through centuries spent with beautiful goods. So here we are.

Why do you write? Until very recently, because I’ve always talked to myself as though I were writing, and wanted to actually do it. But in retirement, I’m asking myself what’s the point—beyond self­-discovery, self­-expression, entertainment. I’ve edged the blog further and further into support for strongly­-held values, wondering if I can make some sort of difference in the world.

Your writing inspires me. Who inspires you? That’s very nice of you to say. Other people’s writing tends to make me nervous if it’s good, and mad if it’s not. My inspiration comes upon me randomly as I putter about, or via a call to something that seems very far away. Like, “Hey weird words, whatcha got for me? Anything? Anything?”

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all­expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Everywhere. On a private jet to Glasgow, London, Stockholm, Prague, Paris. On a boat through the Galapagos, up to Alaska, and slowly down the Rhone or the Rhine or Nile or Amazon. On a train through India, again, as I did in my 20s. This time with someone to carry my bags. Myanmar, Cambodia, Kenya, Peru. New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Guam.

Circle the earth in iambic pentameter, humming destinations, nose pressed to the airplane window.

What is your favorite place on earth? If we take actions as the truest sign of intent, my favorite place is the right-­hand side of my peanut­-colored faux suede sofa.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I’d need to ask what questions you care about. Thank you very much for having me here at Not Intent on Arriving.

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