Author Archives: chloecaldwell



Last Tuesday, Adam Armstrong of OUT magazine, and I went to lunch at Fabienne’s in Williamsburg. I had curried chicken salad and greens and he had tomato soup & espresso and he asked me 10 Qs and told me to be succinct in my answers, and I totally wasn’t. I don’t know what I said and am too embarrassed to look, but it’s a nice thing, especially since it’s the year anniversary of WOMEN.


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Read the whole thing here.

Yesterday was the second writing workshop (women only) I hosted at my apartment in Hudson. If you’re interested in coming to one of these workshops, email me at

Sarah, Therese, Jillian, Juliana, moi, Megan, Emily, & Julie. Photo cred: Jessica

Sarah, Therese, Jillian, Juliana, moi, Megan, Emily, & Julie. Photo cred: Jessica




Brooklyn Baby


my good friend Steph just moved to LA after spending her whole life in NYC where she was raised. i miss her! we got to hang out once a week since July because she decided to take my memoir class. we spent hours before and after class in horrible 34th Street restaurants, talking, talking, talking…

Steph & I in Woodstock last November

Steph & I in Woodstock last November

If you want to read about literally anything you’re worried about, Steph has probably written about it: Birth control, going to the gynecologist, suicide attempts, musician fathers, being female, Uggs, rape, body image, the list goes on.

When I had to hand my new book, I’ll Tell You In Person, in to my agent last March, Steph copy edited it for me THE NIGHT BEFORE. Instead of telling what an asshole I was for asking her to do this THE NIGHT BEFORE, she said, “Great, this will get my mind off of my problems. Let me go to the bodega and get some cigarettes, then I’ll do it,”

And she did it!

Anyway. Go read some of her work.

Or watch this video she did with Chelsea Fagan about how to ‘make it’ freelancing:

Hot Residency Tips


My student Allison emailed and asked me for some advice on writing residencies or to do a blog post about it. She is going to a residency in Arkansas and then India. Her questions are below. I’m answering them in a “Here’s what I would do” way.

  1. Ratio of allotted time: Amount of time to spend writing vs. reading to be inspired vs. wandering the colony/retreat to be inspired

I would write 75% and read and wander 25%. I’d spend my day writing from 7/8a.m to 4p.m. and give myself nights off to read/walk/eat. 

2. What to pack and what to leave behind

This is a funny question. Bring your computer, headphones, journal, favorite pen, two books that you want to write towards, (I keep books of essays on my desk while writing a book of essays to remind myself that essay collections are in fact, a thing, and I know you (Allison) are working on an essay collection. Bring comfortable clothes, things that comfort you. When  write I usually wear yoga clothes/pajamas all day and get dressed in real clothes late afternoon.

3. Social media: to cut off or not to cut off?

When I was at the Martha’s Vineyard residency I didn’t cut it off, and start posting dire tweets, because I get dark sometimes when I am writing about ‘myself’ for 7 hours a day. So dire that my friend ended up sending me an album called Blue Moods of Spain, an album that meditates on loneliness. It’s great! Anyway, sure, why not deactivate? Both Facebook and Twitter make it easy to deactivate and you can even put in a custom date that you want them to reactivate for you. I think you should deactivate. Unless of course, you want to be the type of person who HUMBLE BRAGS about your residency on Facebook or posts about how productive or unproductive you are being. Boring. Lame. Outdated. Get off that shit and work on your book. You could do this thing my friend Logan does: she takes pics throughout her trips and posts them all at one time when she gets home. It saves you from obsessively posting to IG while within the experience. I did deactivate Twitter when I was working on my book in Portland last month. 

4) Is it worthwhile to keep in touch with people from home? Or take the monastic approach and retreat from the world?

I’m a big phone talker. When I was at my residency I spoke with my agent on the phone, my mom while I grocery shopped, and my friend Fran. I think it can be nice, you already have so many hours alone and if you take my advice and cut off social media, you’ll need this! Support is good. 

5) Did you start every day with a goal? an outline? Or is it better to put the butt in chair and see what comes?

I hate goals and outlines and plans. I do have goals often but I don’t think of them that way. I just choose something to work on. You’re working on a collection of essays? Choose one to finish and one to start AND finish (at least a draft). Choose the one you’ve been putting off. 

Your Q is hard for me to answer because I don’t know how far along you are in your book. But  yeah, since you have the space and time, work on the one thing you’ve been putting off, maybe think about the order you want your essays to be in. Maybe read your collection out loud. While do this, you catch errors and often think of more details and anecdotes and changes you want to make to your essays. 

6) Is it a good idea to restrict/limit internet surfing?

Yes! We already went over this. ( :

7) What helped you to feel connected to the experience: exercise? journaling? other activities?

My situation was different because I went to the residency with three other close writer friends. I made friends with some of the other women there, and that bonded everyone. Towards the end of our stay we went out to bars together, and we had dinner together mostly every night. It can be tempting to isolate yourself (at least for me) so forcing yourself to do something social is good. Or even going to see a movie. In India go eat food and take pics and walk around. In Arkansas, I have no idea what to tell you. 

8) Any other advice would be a gift :)

Get sleep. If you can–go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. This helps with structure. I took a hot shower each night before bed. 

Choose an essay you’re working on and read it out loud and record it on your iPhone. In the evening take a walk and listen to your essay on head phones. This helps trigger more memories.

Stretch and move. At one point my body was so tensed and shoulders so stressed that I walked into town and got a massage. Total game changer.

Something else but I forget. Good luck!!!!

My bedroom at Noepe Center For Literary Arts

My bedroom at Noepe Center For Literary Arts

p.s.  Here’s some more epic advice I recently gave:

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Installment 10: Chloe & Fran get Lost In Translation


Installment # 10: Chloe and Fran discuss their writing schedules and being in withdrawal from each other.

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As I write, this my lunch break is coming up. I’ve been at the computer for four hours as I do each morning except for Saturdays and Sundays.

Writing advice annoys me. At the end of the glamorized articles there is no creative way to come to writing except for sitting in a chair at a desk. (Although, people have standing desks now—Julie at Catapult has one but told me she can only do email at it, she can’t really write). Writing looks incredibly boring to other people; to my roommate for example who walks by me to pee and make eggs and shower each morning, a dozen times. She leaves me alone.

You and I just spent a lot of time together in Portland. We took hikes, went to yoga, and ate dinners and lunches together. Then I got back to NY and we were both quiet for a couple of weeks. We talked on the phone the other night and it turned out we’ve both been keeping “bankers hours” as you put it.

I am finishing up my essay collection while you are embarking on a new creative nonfiction book.

If I’m having a work week, this is what it looks like:

If I don’t get to the desk between 7 and 9a.m., I am fucked. If I get to the desk between 9 and 10, I can still get some hours in but I berate myself for not starting earlier. Around noon or 1p.m., I eat eggs and greens or yogurt and fruit and shower. Then I work more until 3 or 4. At 3 or 4, I do errands, which is usually the post office (mailing books or checks), the bank (depositing checks), and a few groceries (half & half, eggs, honey) and then I take a walk until 6p.m. Then I clean my room, make dinner, (rice and beans or omelet or salad with protein) pour a glass of wine I stole from my dad’s loft, watch an indie movie or read a book. I go to bed at between ten and eleven. I go to yoga on Saturdays and Sundays and read.

I basically wake up feeling like a million bucks and am stoked from seven to 11a.m. and then it’s all downhill and I become miserable. 

It is hard to see my progress, because I am too far into it. I moved a dozen sentences. I added half a dozen paragraphs. I changed an ending. I added a scene. I added a joke. I fleshed out an anecdote. I changed a title. I changed some names. I consider one essay done and one needs to be completely changed.

You write at cafes more than I do, and you have a kid. What does your workweek look like when you’re having one?


We were dying last week, because as much as we are in different places in terms of what we are working on, we were in such a similar headspace when we got on the phone on Friday to yack.  It seemed like we were both having a hard time feeling like we have been making decent progress or as I like to say, we were getting in our own ways, bumping into ourselves.  I think this has a shit-ton to do with that fucking inner-critic moron that lurks in our workspaces and tries to make us feel like crap.  You’re not doing enough.  What you’re working on sucks dick.  You suck dick.  You wish you sucked better dick.  You should do more.  You should be more productive.  

And my personal favorite……Nobody cares about this shit that you are writing about, you douchebag dick sucker!

After our conversation, you wrote me and said that you wished we lived in the same city.  I feel the same way, I feel like we have so much to offer each other in terms of support around this grunt-work.  But at the same time, I know that we can be a distraction to each other, drinking coffee and analyzing shit instead of producing work, so maybe right now in order to get to where we both need to be, it’s a blessing to have this distance between us.  It was great to have you here, though. I had a blast cruising around this ridiculous bubble that is Portland with you again.

You’re family really.  And I do think we were quiet for a few weeks because we missed each other, lol!

I think my favorite moment was when we were at that mountain cabin and Karina was crashed out at like nine o clock and we were buzzed on wine and we put on Lost in Translation and I was excited like a kid about to watch Jaws or some shit. You had taken a melatonin and then right before the karaoke scene, the fucking epic climax of the movie, you went to bed.  You said you’re knees were buckling as they do when you take that shit, but then you were in your bed downstairs and you heard the karaoke scene and got jealous.  I was like, You should have come back up.  I would have been jealous too, that scene kills.  

I love when Bill Murray is about to sing ‘More Than This’ and gets all serious and says, This is really hard…..

I could feel at the time

There was no way of knowing….    

So classic.  

And so now you’re back upstate and I’m still in Portland and it’s back to fucking work.  We did speak the other day about how we both try to keep “banker’s hours” and how our clocks are similar.  My sched is a little different than yours because I do have that kid and so I need to pick him up at three, so my day gets a little jacked.  I’m not ready to stop working at three and so I’m on the playground like a caffeinated freak zombie and all these parents are all stoked to see their kids and I’m in the corner with my head down wearing a fucking jean jacket, still spinning from the shit that I am working on, still processing really.  I start my day around nine as well, after my guys are the fuck out of my grill and then I sweep and tidy up and walk the dogs and I think about what I want to accomplish.  I plan out a yoga class for midday and then I generally work a few work sessions around that.  I definitely obsess over food and like you, I eat yogurt and fruit and eggs and greens and I can also beat myself up over that shit, similar to the writing.  You are right, one work session is usually at a café, because it helps me to be around people to get things going and then another session is in my studio at the house, where I often fall into myself and try to fight off the inner critic like a gangsta. This goes on during the week.  On weekends, I do not feel compelled to produce work per se but I often work through some shit in my head and connect back to how I am feeling about what I worked on during the week prior.

No matter what, so much about what we do involves tons of existential struggle and a constant will to keep fighting.  It’s hard work.  And I think we both have really strong work ethics and we both crave structure in our lives so we fight hard to build that for ourselves.  Because, like Bill Murray sang so well and with such emotion and passion…..

More than this, you know there is nothing

More than this, tell me one thing

More than this, there is nothing


Okay so we went upstairs and got under the covers of the bed you were gonna sleep in and put in Lost In Translation. You jumped out of the bed to go to the bathroom and you were like, wrapped in a blanket or a robe and you exclaimed, “I’M SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!!!” and then booked it down the stairs to pee.

I think we missed each other too–I had to adjust to not hanging out with you every day again, it sucked.

I beat myself up over food too–like, “You’re gonna get fat from sitting and writing all day you better eat 2 eggs, not 3…..”

Here’s something I noticed with my books and you’re probably feeling this way too: No one gives a shit about your books until they’re published. Unless they’re also writers actively writing books, then they do. Other people don’t.

When Women came out, my mom said to me at one point, When did you write this?

I was like, uhhh, every fucking day for hours for the last 14 months.

But no one sees the hours you put in, so it’s lonely, lonely, lonely….

Also, it’s lonely because if you tell people you’re working hard it’s sort of hard to explain and if you always talk about what you’re working on, you sound like an asshole….on your porch in Portland we were saying we both write every day but you can’t talk about it, kind of like Fight Club. You also said you get annoyed when people write about “journaling.”

Anyway, last night you ate a tiny bit of a pot cookie. I hit the wine a little and watched Silver Linings Playbook. I check the fuck out of my head at night.

If you went to the hotel that Lost In Translation was filmed at, what would you do?


My fucking goal in life is to hole up in that hotel in Lost in Translation.  It’s the Park Hyatt Tokyo I believe and it’s like seven hundo a night.  Some of my favorite memoires in life have been holing up alone at rad hotels in killer cities.  It’s so humbling and interesting in ways that are almost hard to explain.  So I would probably spend a lot of time at that hotel reading and writing and checking shit out in the common areas and I would probably not do a lot of touring around Tokyo, because I am a dick like that……

 I was supposed to be at The Jane hotel right now exactly, literally today but I cancelled my East Coast trip because I don’t have a ton of energy for my family and travel at this point.  My nerves have been too shot.  Now I feel sad thinking that I could be at The Jane sipping coffee and thinking about what amazing movie I could see today, fuck!

Instead, I’m in my writing studio hoping that I don’t have to face a ton of inner conflict with myself today, feeling a bit like shit because I ate a third of that stupid pot cookie and was up late freaking out in my bed because it was made with the hyper pot.  





Fall Sale


After being sold out for some time, the 2nd printing of WOMEN is finished. You should get a copy with Elizabeth Ellen’s intro. It’s pretty funny and juicy. I don’t even have a copy yet, but I’ve read the intro. We actually got into our biggest argument to date, about it. ( ;

SF/LD books is killing it—David Shields and Bret Easton Ellis talk about Mira and Tao’s book, Selected Tweets on B.E.E.’s podcast today!!!!

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I’ll be reading twice with Uzodinma Okehi 2X next month, check out my events page for info. 

CATAPULT is publishing some cool personal essays. I liked this one by Alexander Chee about Chloe Sevigny.

U R Creepy


This isn’t really how curtly and gramatically sketchy you should talk to someone you’re writing about in your personal essay collection, but when it’s a friend since age 11, this is how you talk to each other. This is how I fact check. Also most people who aren’t writers don’t remember shit. (Am writing an essay for my new book about giving up singing, after a decade of voice lessons.) I am proud of my creepy memory! I wouldn’t be able to write what I do, otherwise.

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hashtag oregon life


I was interviewed about my book WOMEN for Newstalk, a radio station in Ireland. (?)

You can listen here. You can buy WOMEN here.

I’m in Bumfuck, Oregon at the moment, working on my book in a cabin. I hung out in Portlandia for the last week with my 2nd family, the Lindstrom-Strayed’s, and attended the writer Kristen Forbes’s wedding. It’s fun visiting a city you’ve lived in because you know where the good food and yoga is, how long it will take you to walk places, and which thrift stores you want to hit up.

Cheryl & I

Cheryl Strayed & I, all cleaned up

Kristen, me, Erin, Cheryl, Bobbi

Kristen, me, Erin, Cheryl, Bobbi

working on my book edits here

working on my book edits at this desk in Rhodedendron, Ore.

my friend Fran and I on our hike yesterday

my friend Fran and I on our hike yesterday

my style icon & partner in crime: cheryl's daughter bobbi

my style icon & partner in crime: cheryl’s daughter, Bobbi.

Janie is keeping me company out here

Janie is keeping me company out here