Laura Cottam Sajbel lives in Austin Texas and has been a member of the Writers League for “a number of years – not sure anymore”.
Writers League: In what genre(s) do you write?
Laura Cottam Sajbel: Nonfiction, though my short stories and poems have also been published.
WLT: What authors would you like to have coffee or a beer with and which beverage?
LCS: I would love to sit on the porch sipping iced tea with Barbara Kingsolver, because she is interested in everything and has thoughtful things to say on so many subjects. She also refuses to be hemmed in by any particular genre, which I admire! Alice Walker could join us, too. One of my all-time favorite essays of Walker’s dealt with her mother’s garden, where Walker discovered the roots (pun intended) of her creativity.
And I’d have a glass of wine with Bill Moyers–someone who recognizes and delves into fascinating real-life stories. He is incredibly knowledgeable and insightful, and I would love to know how he developed his style.
Because it’s what you drink with poets in a dark, wood-paneled, book-lined coffeehouse, I would have coffee with poet Philip Appleman, whose line about bruised plums always resonates with me.
WLT: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
LCS: Maybe The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck and Jim were also stranded on a bit of an island, so it would remind me to rely on ingenuity. Huck is such a great underdog and unlikely hero, but he has a huge amount of heart. And Mark Twain writes with such nuance that rereading that book offers new layers of meaning every time.
WLT: What have you learned from your association with the Writers League?
LCS: That community is a great thing to have. Writing can be a very introspective, introverted calling, but I am a person who needs connection. It’s nice to be able to associate with like-minded colleagues who can validate your struggles and support your work.
WLT: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
LCS: Once I no longer have to drive three kids to all their practices and lessons (and feel reassured that their college laundry is getting done), I would love to apply to Breadloaf, for a refresher course, and maybe find a cool writers-in-residence gig for a while. I love finding the gem in someone’s rough draft and enjoy the whole, transformative writing process, so I may go back to teaching college classes. And I still have a backlog of writing projects I want to finish, too!
WLT: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world?
LCS: Life is exciting when you are open to unexpected experiences. My new nonfiction book Buoyant started with a chance meeting at a neighborhood pool, when the mother of a seven-time Olympic backstroker asked me to tell her story. At first, I was nervous about working with sports celebrities, but once we got to the crux of the matter, it dawned on me that my own interests and experiences made me the right person to shape this story. Buoyant narrates the journey of a young mom–with very few resources but some serious challenges–who guides her children from single-parent welfare to world-class success in sports. Writing this book gave me a whole new understanding of current research relating exercise to brain health, and it taught me to have faith in my own instincts and talents in handling challenges.