Shauna Barbosa is the woman behind Let’s Just Eat Cheese, a site featuring interviews, flash fiction and moments of Babosa’s life. Shauna worked in the magazine world, but her true passion is writing. Shauna seems to be doing everything, holding a 9-5, taking night classes at Harvard and has still found time to complete two books; the fiction collection “Have You Ever Had Dinner With A Wizard?” and her short poetry collection, “Nobody Sees You.” Her writing tells a story that we can all relate to, stories about family, love, sex and heartbreak. Ms. Barbosa is making waves in the literary world and making her mark in history. Check out what she had to say in our interview..
What woman, besides your mom or grandmother, do you find inspirational?
My aunt Zane is a wonderful woman with fascinating energy. She’s in California and we don’t talk often but when we do, I’m always captivated by her response to how are you doing? It’s always good despite the physical pain (from illness) that may be attacking her body. Not too long ago she told me when I was 12 that I told her I was going to move to New York or California. She also said if I ever give up, it would be a really sad story. For my 8th grade graduation she gave me a glass angel that broke a week later – I still have the wings.
How did you get your start as a writer? Was it something that came naturally and that you felt compelled to do?
In third grade (1997), I won Reading Rainbow’s Third Annual Young Writers & Illustrators Awards Competition. Signed by LeVar Burton! I’ve always wrote short stories or in a diary. When I got to high school, I started to really explore my voice and interests. Got to New York at 17 completely unaware of the life stories that exist everywhere. I read a lot, so that also forced me to explore my own ability to write the things we sometimes don’t know how to describe until they’re brought to our attention.
What’s your writing process? Do you have to be in a certain place or can you writer wherever?
I usually start a piece with lines in my head. Or parts of a story that I want to challenge myself to tell, like how it feels looking out a window sitting in the back of a car (as an adult). I can write anywhere most of the time. I’ve written some pretty great work in meetings at day jobs.
Where do you find inspiration?
In general, people. I learn so much about myself when I learn about others. I am moved most by those who get up everyday and do what they love. And more by those who get up everyday, work an unfulfilling job, go home and do what they love. To get my writing going, I read. It’s comparable to traveling.
In your most recent poetry collection Nobody Sees You there is a sadness and melancholy. Do you write from personal experience or do you imagine a character as the subject of your works?
There’s no amount of research that could define a moment without pieces of truth. I write from what I know, what I’ve felt and what I feel passionate about. At the same time, there has to be detachment and the challenge to write about what I don’t know. For that I use my imagination, outside stories, things I want to feel, how someone else feels. I don’t want to just tell my story. I want to mix things up.
What’s your favorite piece that you’ve written?
Nothing about August is the first piece I wrote and felt really proud, impressed even. I felt something outside of being the author. It went through a lot of edits, but I love it in its raw state. What We Know About Art makes me smile too.
Do you hand write or type?
If I’m in class or at work, I hand write on available paper (my notebook or class material L) I usually type. When hand writing, I sometimes get anxious and shaky. I’m guessing that translates to tapping my fingers frantically on my keyboard when I’m stuck on something?
On your site you have a great selection of music interviews. How did you get into conducting interviews of musicians?
At 15 I worked at a Hip-Hop record store in Roxbury, MA. That’s when I started interviewing artists. They would come by the shop for in-stores and I’d have my tape recorder, nervous, asking questions. I think members of the R&B group 112 were my first interviewees. It was just one of those I love music and writing things. When I moved to New York and started talking to more artists, and spending more time with them, that’s when I realized it’s a more I love storytelling thing.
Who do you want to work with?
I want to work with women, a lot of women. I need to hear more stories. I used to be obsessed with Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. We don’t have a collective female voice for this young undecided creative restless amazing generation. Women are making some of the hardest, best and worst decisions of their lives right now; I want to work with them to document it. Do you remember the question from The Vagina Monologues, something like, if your vagina could speak, what would it say?!
What part of writing is the most challenging and do you dislike the most?
All of it. Writing is painful. I like when I’m done. I often forget that I need to get the bad out. I’ll start writing and have no idea what the focus is – but you have got to get the bad out and keep going.
Any advice for ladies who are just starting out in a career as a writer?
Believe in yourself. Believe in your story. Believe in your imagination. You have the most fun (despite my use of painful above) when you allow yourself to surprise yourself.
Shauna Barbosa’s website is Let’s Just Eat Cheese
- My Latest Obession: Writing a Novel
- Women Making History: Lesley Arfin
- My Latest Obsession: Writing a Novel Part II
- Women Making History: Gala Darling
- Women Making History: Joanna Douglas