Twice a month, The Rumpus brings your favorite writers directly to your IRL mailbox via our Letters in the Mail program.
October 1 LITM Ling Ma
Our next letter in the mail comes from writer Ling Ma. Ling’s letter guides us through exercises to deepen our own writing, and contemplates the surprising possibilities of stepping outside of what you know to create new worlds in fiction.
Ling Ma is a writer hailing from Fujian, Utah, and Kansas. She wrote the novel Severance and the story collection Bliss Montage. Her fiction has been awarded the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, the Whiting Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and others. She lives in Chicago with her family.
The Rumpus: How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Ling Ma: There was no single moment of epiphany that I can point to. But I continually felt the need to escape, a feeling I can trace back to childhood. As an adult, I found the office jobs I held to be untenable and unsustainable. During this time, I began writing fiction with increasing frequency. After a downsizing at my company, I and many others were laid off. Buoyed by unemployment funds, I developed what became Severance.
Rumpus: What’s a piece of good advice or insight you received in a letter or note?
Ma: “If you don’t know how to write it, be simple and straightforward.”
Rumpus: Tell us about your most recent book. How do you hope it resonates with readers?
Ma: I hope it allows certain others to glimpse their reflection.
October 15 LITM Kelly Sather
Our next letter in the mail comes from writer Kelly Sather. Kelly’s letter explores how poems have helped her face sorrow, and how writers and artists should be unafraid of the marks our work leaves.
Kelly Sather is the author of Small in Real Life (University of Pittsburgh Press, Oct. 2023), her debut story collection and winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. She is a former entertainment lawyer and screenwriter, and her fiction has appeared in Santa Monica Review, J Journal, Pembroke Magazine, PANK, and elsewhere. She grew up in Los Angeles and lives in Northern California.