Interview with Davon Loeb
If you’ve been a subscriber for a while you’ve probably noticed many of my reading recommendations have been by Davon Loeb. (And if you’re a new subscriber— welcome! We’re happy you’re here.) I discovered his work last summer and fell in love with his beautiful writing. I was lucky to get to read an early copy of his incredible debut lyrical memoir, The In-Betweens, and to talk to him about it.
The In-Betweens is about Davon Loeb, the son of a Black mother and a white Jewish man, growing up in a Black family in a predominantly white suburban town. To borrow the publisher’s description: “it’s a story of a biracial boy becoming a man, all while trying to find himself, trying to come to terms with his white family, and trying to find his place in American society.”
I’m thrilled this special book is in the world and that Davon was willing to share his thoughts on doubt and staying motivated, as well as offering reading recommendations!
Did you ever doubt this book would be published?
I think if I’m crafting a sentence, a piece of prose, or even a book, I am always doubting myself. In many ways, my writing has failed and continues to fail, and I frequently doubt not only my work but my identity as a writer. However, other people believe in me and won’t let me off the hook. They see something in my prose that I constantly question—my family and friends, editors, and my ever-supportive publisher, West Virginia University Press, all of which feel an unrelenting love for my writing. So, I can’t let them down, and I push through the self-doubt because of them.
Do you have any tips or tricks for staying motivated?
Staying motivated through the many perils of writing and publishing is more about mindset than about practical tips and tricks. You will receive few acceptances and many, many rejections, and you have to come to terms with that—for the majority of the literary work is subjective. So give yourself some grace, especially when feeling dejected. Be motivated by good writing most of all.
Any reading recommendations?
Every writer has a list of writers to recommend. I’d rather offer anthologies that I think are a great hub of work by a range of diverse voices, including: A Harp in the Stars edited by Randon Noble Billings, Latinx Poetics edited by Ruben Quesada, The Best of Brevity edited by Zoë Bossiere and Dinty W. Moore, We Are All Armenian edited by Aram Mrjoian, and The Best American Essays 2022, edited by Alexander Chee and Robert Atwan.
Thank you, Davon!