The Comfortably Uncomfortable Chloe Caldwell | Books & Authors | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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The Comfortably Uncomfortable Chloe Caldwell 

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So what are the things, actually, that keep you up at night?

Not much keeps me up at night (notice I'm taking this question literally) because I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, though maybe that's because I'm a melatonin junkie and do yoga.

Do you think your writing has changed since your first book? And your ambition, or that invisible bar set in the sky—has that changed?

Absolutely. In my first book my writing was raw and urgent. I'm not a classically trained writer, so with each book I release I see my faults and how I've grown/changed. I learn a lot from reviews: what's working and what isn't (I also learned you can't please everyone). Basically, I have been learning to write in real time, while publishing books. I learn a lot from my students and having to teach craft, something I barely studied myself. I think that's why my writing is the way it is. It hasn't gone through years of workshops. It isn't calculated.

That's the silver lining of not going to school or getting an MFA. I had nothing, expected nothing, don't think anything is owed to me, so I'm just grateful I get to write and teach for a living. No one promised me a huge advance. Of course, I dream about getting a six-figure book deal. Who doesn't?

Who doesn't indeed? There's a really touching, sad, funny, and very Maggie essay in ITYIP, "Maggie and Me: A Love Story," about your friendship with her. What effect did she have on your work?

Recently I heard a podcast with the author Siri Hustvedt about how a past student called her a "complicated woman," and how pleased she was with that description. It applies to Maggie: She was so complicated and had lived such a rich life. Maggie and I connected at the yoga studios on Warren Street. We were both yoga junkies, and realized we both had essays in Sari Botton's anthology Goodbye to All That. I'd just moved back to Hudson from Oregon, and one night after Tuesday night hot yoga we began talking. It was like we looked at each other and said: You. You're my new friend. She was a mentor of sorts to me—her career was fleshed out, she'd been through the ringer, and mine was only beginning. We even looked at an apartment together. I did a reading with her at Oblong Books on February 9th, 2013, went to her Saturday morning yoga class on Saturday the 10th, and she was dead on the 12th.

It's so frustrating not to have her here, but I feel lucky to have crossed paths with her at all. I can still feel her support. There are days I don't want to go to yoga, or write, or go volunteer. But Maggie would tell me to get off my ass and go. I can remember still being in bed some mornings and she'd text me: Get your ass to Sadhana! Now!

Do you think living in the Hudson Valley, instead of, say, New York City, makes it easier to write?

One hundred times easier. That the post office, bank, and my therapist are all in a five-block radius saves so much time. I spent my 20s living in various cities, running to trains, waiting for buses. In Hudson I get a ton more done. I pay $600 in rent, and there's just enough going on here that I don't get bored, but I also don't spend all my time on barstools like I did when I lived in New York City. That you can get into nature and go on peaceful walks and have time to think has been great. I'm from Spencertown, so at heart I love nature.

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