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As you open the double doors of Silver Street Studios, you are greeted by the always-changing collection of art adorning the walls. Textured paintings and photography collections accompany you as you make your way to Writespace’s studio. Inside, you find writers collaborating in a workshop setting or using the space to write quietly. Elizabeth White-Olsen is the brain behind it all, delivering a grassroots writing center to Houston. Here we sit down with White-Olsen to learn more about how to become a writer and her preference for hummus over tehina.
TCT: What is the most unusual request you or Writespace has had?
EWO: After college I volunteered at a haunted house. I had a pretty easy job welcoming guests in the entryway, but then halfway through Halloween night, another volunteer got sick. I was asked to dress in a torn white gown and let myself be tied to a stake from which blood was streaming down into a bathtub full of arms and legs. A woman in leather stalked between the other two ‘virgin sacrifices’ and me, snarling and snapping her whip. My job was to look pale and weak and to scream bloody murder every two minutes. That night I might have been more frightened than any of the guests who walked by.
TCT: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to break into the writing business?
EWO: Put in the hard work and the butt-in-seat hours it takes to produce good writing. Read as much as you possibly can and ‘read like a writer’—as in, learn from the craft of the piece. Attend readings, workshops, conferences, and critique circles in order to connect with other serious writers with whom you can develop mutual support systems. In the hours you are not writing, live intensely and dive into your passions.
TCT: What’s next?
EWO: In my writing I plan to publish personal essays about two of my favorite things, birds and art. At Writespace, we will be hosting our first literary festival, Writefest, in February 2016. Literary journal editors from around the country are coming to Houston to teach writers about writing and publishing.
TCT: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
EWO: Virginia Woolf
TCT: If you weren’t building Writespace, what would you be doing?
EWO: Writing full-time.
TCT: How would you describe Writespace in 80 characters? (Twitter friendly)
EWO: Making writers’ lives awesome through writing workshops, one-on-one consultations, a shared writing space, readings, open mics, and more!
TCT: Hummus or Tehina?
TCT: Apple or Android?
TCT: Picasso or Matisse?
TCT: Coffee or tea?
TCT: Fame or money?
EWO: Fame, I guess, but I’d still rather have a third category: joy.
TCT: Love or friendship?
EWO: Love love love.
TCT: Train or plane?
TCT: Jackie Collins or Ernest Hemingway?
TCT: Mountains or beach?
TCT: Dogs or cats?
By Morgan Cronin
Morgan Cronin has lived in Houston most her life. She has a BA in journalism from The University of Oklahoma. Find her collecting passport stamps or scouting the perfect latte. Follow her on Twitter @Kwik_satik