Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts

Visiting with Dani Bojanski

by Jodi Paloni

My writing desk/kitchen table.

What inspired your prize-winning essay “South Omaha from the F Street Exit, JFK Freeway”?

When I moved to Iowa City six years ago, maintaining my relationship with my family became a priority for me, so I’ve made many, many trips back home.  We always get off at the same exit, F Street, and always that same dirty / sad / funny / comforting scene unfolds as we drive from the freeway to my parents. South Omaha is relentlessly inspiring, as are the people who live there, especially my family.

Tell us about your writing process—either generally or specifically with regard to the birth and development of this piece.

If I have an actual process, it isn’t pretty: I usually get a big idea, spend a lot of time writing grand, sweeping, pseudo-philosophical junk, wring my hands over its lousiness for a few months or years, then finally find the one or two paragraphs that actually do work and turn those into a better (usually better, but sometimes not) essay. “South Omaha From the F Street Exit, JFK Freeway” started out as a history of cows, their domestication, evolution, and mass slaughter. In its original form, the essay actually started in Antarctica, explaining how the shifting ice eventually brought about the grasslands, which brought about the cows, and so on. The best prose was on slaughter, though, so I went down that rabbit hole and here we are.

The animal who lives under my writing desk/kitchen table.

Raymond Carver said a writer should follow the command “No tricks.” Do you keep any quotes or reminders at your desk? Or just in the back of your mind as you write?

I’m not much for quotes, but reminders, yes. Don’t be cocky. Don’t be clever. Write with love and hope. Keep going. No really, keep going. You can have a bowl of ice cream if you write an entire page tonight.

If you were to write a book on the craft of writing, what title would you use?

Every Single Stinking Word Counts. And given my pace, let’s call it a brochure.

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