We had the good fortune of connecting with Corie Rosen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Corie, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My balance has changed so much! I had my first child almost a year ago and, as any new parent will tell you, a baby completely upends the balance of all things. It’s a wonderful upending, and at the same time, you absolutely need a strategy to manage the chaos. I had six rounds of edits with my publisher and a book release, all while I was in the throes of new baby life (and a major sleep regression…or twelve). I used to think of my university teaching job and my writing as the two things I had to balance, but now there is an endless list of things I feel like I should be doing at any given moment, nearly all of which are not work. Everybody talks about the guilt parents feel, but it is worth repeating that the struggle to balance work and family is real and ongoing, especially right now. The biggest and most difficult challenge for me has been learning to ask for help when I need it. I’ve leaned on anyone and everyone–all the paid help I could afford, grandparents, my amazing husband, my friends. I’m lucky to have a great partner and a supportive community. Parenting, like writing, has been harder in some moments and easier in others. Just when it starts to seem manageable and intuitive, I find that new challenges arise. I like to think of myself as really independent, but I realized early on that trying to do too much on your own can actually be foolish. No human being can function in a state of complete sleep-deprivation or soldier on when they aren’t feeling well. (Trust me, I have tried.) I figured that I have mentors and guides in my professional life, and I need that same expert help in my life as a parent. Something I’ve learned from the folks who have supported me in both arenas is that you can do things a little bit at a time and, if you are diligent, you’ll get to where you want to be. These days, that means that something is always waiting to be finished, but things really do get done. Right now, I have a short story collection that is waiting to be revised and sent out. I’m also finishing edits on a poetry manuscript and my daughter just got over a cold. The story collection has been assembled and waiting to be reviewed for over two months now, and I just keep telling myself that eventually I’ll get to it. Because I do something to move my work forward every single day, I trust that I will. I know it’s a cliche at this point, but I’ve found that the trick to staying balanced is to just really be present in whatever I am doing, wherever I am, in any given moment. If I am with my daughter, that means I’m not on my phone, not responding to email, not doing anything other than being with her, trying to see the world from her perspective. Then, when she is asleep or I have help and I am writing, I make sure that I am actually writing, not sitting at my desk and texting cute baby pics to my mom.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a poet, fiction writer, and educator. My first book of poems, Words for Things Left Unsaid, came out in March 2020 and was nominated for the National Book Award. I taught in law schools for ten years before shifting my focus from academic work to writing. It took an agent telling me that she knew that she could sell my work, but that I wasn’t finishing things fast enough to push me to examine my professional choices. Time is such a limited resource. When I was in my twenties, I always thought that there would be more time once I established myself in my life and career. Then, as I moved into my thirties, I realized that there was actually much less time than I thought. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that, if you want to do something at a high level, you have to be willing to give it the time that it requires. Talent is helpful resource, but there is just no substitute for putting in the hours.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I always take people to visit Lighthouse Writers here in Denver. The Workshop is currently housed in an amazing old Victorian that used to be Molly Brown’s neighbor’s house. It feels slightly haunted, but in the best way. BookBar is also an incredible place. It’s part bookstore, part wine cafe, part event space, and an all-around warm and inviting hang out. It’s like your best friend’s living room if your best friend had a professionally curated library. It is so important to support independent booksellers, especially now, and I can’t say enough good things about BookBar’s beautiful space and lovely staff.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people! The big ones are my publisher, Aldrich Press, Denver’s incredible Lighthouse Writers Workshop, and the writer, professor, and jazz musician Ishmael Reed. Aldrich Press not only accepted my book and brought it into existence, they also nominated it for the National Book Award. Though the book ultimately wasn’t shortlisted, the nomination helped the book garner attention, which is unusual for poetry books. The book is now an entrant in a number of other post-publication contests, but just the fact that it was edited and published with such care makes me feel like I’ve already won. Lighthouse Writers Workshop is my literary home here in Denver. They offer an amazing array of classes and community outreach programs, and Denver is a richer place because of Lighthouse. You can take their online classes from anywhere, and they have so many community events that are beautifully curated and many are completely free. I also have to thank Ishmael Reed, my most important and most influential teacher. He is an extraordinary writer and has a new Audible original out right now, The Fool Who Thought Too Much (which I believe is free if you are a current Audible member). His writing is always incisive and brilliant, and he is such an important voice in our times.