private exhibitionist


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This is the strangest (best?) part of having a book come out. Celebrating. I was listening to a lot of podcasts yesterday (Wendy Ortiz on Other People Pod and Claire Danes on WTF ) and I think it was Brad Listi who said writers are private exhibitionists.  

I love that term. Since December I have spent most days writing my book. From 9 to 3. I literally shower at 5 or 6pm.  No one but my editor and a couple close friends were reading it.

And then your book releases, and anyone who wants to can read your private words. It always feels like coming out of a closet. It feels both AMAZING and DISTURBING and it’s a good practice for holding two things at once.

Sometimes writers email me with questions. I get at least a few a month. The author Liz Scheid recently wrote and asked me what I do for money. She wanted a job that doesn’t drain her creative energy. She teaches composition at the moment. She assumed I had an MFA. I do not. I went to one year of community college then moved to NYC and didn’t go back. I did take 4 courses of writing through Gotham in New York. She’s not the first person to ask me these questions so I wanted to write a little bit about it here.

This is what I do for money:

I teach a 4 week online class for Litreactor each season. I teach creative writing for teenagers once in a while through venues in my community in Hudson, NY. I’m a server for a catering company on the weekends. I work one day a week at my dad’s music store. I nanny when the opportunity arises. I find outlets that can pay me for my essays. I hustle. I ask people to please by my books from me directly, and some beautiful people do! I work one on one with essayists at times. What I do for money is always different.

This has all been great, because essentially I work from home; I work for myself, thus, I was able to find enough time to dedicate to writing this book. Having books being published doesn’t mean money. I did not receive a book advance for Legs Get Led Astray. I did get one for Women. One that some would consider tiny, but I considered large. It is all relative.

The most money I have received from writing, has come from these places in this order: Short Flight/Long Drive, Thought Catalog, Men’s Health, and Audible.

And I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that I love working from home. Absolutely I do. I love not getting dressed and eating and drinking whenever I want and being on my own schedule. I love having the time to apply for a writing residency or organize my books look for a certain scene in a movie that I am writing about and make phone calls. And I don’t have the looming debt of college loans hanging over me, so I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong by living way—by putting my writing first. And I only have myself. I don’t have kids. I don’t have pets. I don’t have a spouse. And living this way–my creativity is not drained. And that is VERY important to me.

But it’s a toss up. I don’t have a car. I don’t have a savings account. I don’t have a credit card. I live hand to mouth. I often do not know how I will pay my rent. I am, essentially what they call, broke. But I get to do what I like/love for the most part, so I have my mental health. The lifestyle is not for everyone. It would cause some WAY too much anxiety. But it works for me. For now. That’s not to say I don’t some days fantasize about having security and a nine to five job and benefits.

If you’re interested in this stuff like I am, The Rumpus recently started a podcast called Make Work, where writers talk about what they do for $. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I want to.

Every creative laborer has a different story to tell about how they negotiate their relationship between their creative work and their paycheck and how they balance their lives to sustain their creative practice. In Make/Work, Scott will speak with emerging and established artists working in a wide range of creative mediums about how they survive, how they make a living, and how they maintain their work over the long term.

Anyway. This photo above of me is from one of the outtakes from the photo shoot I did for GRAZIA UK. Taken by Mike McGregor. I was excited because Mike has met/taken photos of “cool” people like the writers Shelia Heti and Meghan O’Rourke  and one of my favorite musicians: ANTONY. This was towards the end of the shoot, and he was like, there’s an awesome roof, let’s go outside. So we were out on a roof in Kingston, NY. I like the photo because I never wear white. I wear black mostly. And when the stylist pulled out these jeans, I like, oh boy. The jeans and shirt were both from Banana Republc. Anyway, it’s so not me, that I like it. I’ve always enjoyed wearing things that are not mine.

Come to the book release if you’re in the NYC area. Details are here. It’s at Housingworks on Crosby Street. I learned yesterday that Claire Danes grew up on Crosby Street. (Not actually a big Clare Danes fan or anything, although, maybe now I am?)


questions questions questions


Been doing mad interviews lately. People like asking me stuff.

I answered 10 Questions for Lireactor. Rob Hart interviewed me. Rob is my “manager” at Litreactor, at least that’s what I call him. He’s super nice and has 2 new books coming out!

I did a conversation with Angela Giles Patel for The Manifest-Station. It was cool having Angela interview me because she took my Litreactor class twice, thus, knows me in a certain kind of way, because we bare our souls in that class.

So we got deep. Like, she was asking me things about planets. And my mom. and Maggie Estep. Etc.

And I’m in the middle of an interview for The Female Gaze…

Someone told me I should be like Angelina Jolie and be like, “I’m not talking about this, this, or this.”

Which I’ve kind of been doing. I am really bored with talking about fiction VS nonfiction and what the line is. The other thing I am bored with is talking about SOCIAL MEDIA.


I’ve been cleaning through my stuff from middle school, highschool, and Brooklyn, and found these. I used to have a busted typewriter and it would only let me type like this.

Anyway, I used to write my ass off.  Ask anyone that knew me during that time. Like my friend Aaron, whose piece was just published on The Nervous Breakdown.

Typewriter strips

Typewriter strips


College of St. Rose


I’ll be there to do a reading on the evening of October 9th! 

Professor Nester and I in 2012

Professor Nester and I in 2012

Will be reading from Legs Get Led Astray and Women, and visiting Daniel Nester’s creative nonfiction classes. (If you have

not read Dan’s essay collection, How To Be Inappropriate, get on that shit, it’s hysterical). 

Thursday, October 9, 2014 7:30pm 

Standish Rooms, Events and Athletics Center (Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany New York


October Book Tour


Here’s a tentative list of our book tour dates! Any questions, suggestions, or requests, email me: 


October 3rd: Book launch party, Brooklyn, New York (Elizabeth Wurtzel, Emily Gould, Ramona Emerson, Domenica Ruta and Molly Oswaks)

October 9th: College of St Rose, Albany, New York (Just me)

October 16th: SECRET Los Angeles reading 

October 17th: Los Angeles, California, STORIES Cafe 

October 22nd: Bloomington, Indiana 

October 23rd: Iowa City

October 24th: Minneapolis, Minnesota

October 25th: Madison, Wisconsin 

October 26th: Champaign, Illinois photo (16)

October 27th: Cleveland, Ohio

October 28th and 29: Toronto

October 30 and 31: Montreal

Oh and we’re gonna be rockin some overalls on tour too…….




My friend, the writer Erika Kleinman, wrote a really sweet review/love letter to my book Women for her column CNF 500 on The Nervous Breakdown. It’s a really great column she just started like a month ago. Read all the installments here.

I’m so touched she wrote the first review of this book, because she’s been reading drafts for the past year, and has always been encouraging and supportive.

Erika and I became friends in Fall of 2012. She emailed me twice about LGLA, the second time saying she wanted to find a way to write about her stripper dyke days. Since then, she has. She’s published the essay Jack Shack on Salon, My Life As A Dyke on Thought Catalog. We also connected over intense love for Rufus Wainwright. I wrote an essay about him in LGLA, and Erika wrote one about him for The Rumpus. She even includes one of my favorite lines from his song “Poses” in her essay:

I did go from wanting to be someone/Now I’m drunk and wearing flip-flips on Fifth Avenue

We’re going to send him these essays and hope he gives us backstage passes to one of his shows.

Graceland Too Owner Dies


On our Southern Book Tour ( totally covered it by the way, lol) in 2012, Elizabeth Ellen, Brandi Wells, Donora Hillard and a friend named Ben Fama drove to Graceland Too, a shrine for Elvis memorabilia, the day after we did a reading at  Oxford Books.

After knocking and knocking on the door, Paul McLeod answered, spitting an Elvis tune. I think the tour lasted something ridiculous like three hours. In the photo below you can see our nervous laughter and apprehension. I remember Elizabeth saying she felt like she was going to have a panic attack. Because we were stuck in a house with a hoarder and didn’t know how long we were going to be there. 



In July Elizabeth texted me that Paul McLeod was found dead. According to some articles, a man was trying to break into his house, so he shot him, then he had a heart attack. 

Which brings me today, finding this photograph on my computer.  Not sure what else to say, but, wow. 

Book Sale!


I have a bunch of copies of Legs Get Led Astray just sitting on my shelf. Normally the book is $12 on my site but I will send you a signed copy for just $10 along with a fun surprise!!!! paypal me at

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There are some spots still in my online personal essay class which begins 9/4. The last two times I taught the class, it sold out.  I’d also like to point out that Chuck Paluhnik teaches for the same company. His class is sold out, obvi. If you have questions about my class just shoot me an email at the above address.


I am getting around the block this October. Like really around the block. I’ll be in a bunch of random cities doing readings. Details TBA v. soon. 





Yep, WOMEN is ready for pre-order! The books will ship at the end of September. You can order a copy here

WOMEN cover 


“In her novella, Women, Chloe Caldwell writes,  “There are thousands of ways to be blindsided.” Perhaps that’s the best way to sum up the effect this story had on me. If we’re lucky, we allow ourselves to love with ferocity, with abandon, with the hell to the consequences. If we’re lucky we survive this love and love again. Chloe Caldwell joins the ranks along with Kate Millett, Rebecca Brown, and Jeanette Winterson to write about boundaries and desires and the power of love to crush and heal.”

-Rhonda Hughes, Publisher at Hawthorne Books 


“I’ll read anything Chloe Caldwell writes.  She’s a rare bird: fearless, dark, prolific, unpretentious, and truly honest.  WOMEN is an urgent reminder that narrative is how we make sense of obsession.”

Elisa Albert, author of The Book of Dahlia and the forthcoming novel After Birth

“Chloe Caldwell’s Women describes–with grace, generosity, and insight—an affair between two women and its messy, loping aftermath. As Anton Chekhov’s “Lady with The Dog” describes, and as our own experiences show us, this kind of taboo sexual love ricochets between ecstasy and misery. Caldwell handles this material exactly as one should, revealing all the ways intense mutual desire tangles up with secret, impossible love. The narrator and Finn have impossible encounters, or impossibly possible encounters. The affair does not operate in the ordinary realm. Caldwell’s novella also deftly describes the intricate way the narrator’s extraordinary love for Finn illumines her loving relationship with her mom. Sure, the title of this book recalls Bukowski’s Women, and yet Caldwell’s Women offers what Bukowski would have envied—-a nuanced description of love as an unfurling, open thing, a female thing, cruel and kind and soulful, not easy to restrain, and in that way, Caldwell’s prose seems more linked to the maximal prose of Eileen Myles. What seems utterly Caldwellian (Chloean?) is how closely the prose attends to the female body, its aches and joys, its connections and dispossessions, how it feels, at every step, to be touched deeply and then left alone.”

Jay Ponteri, Author of Wedlocked and Darkmouth Strikes Again
“Chloe Caldwell’s Women is all of the beautiful, haunting pain of heartbreak — caught in amber and held up to the sunlight. Chloe’s clarity and candor allows us to be voyeurs while simultaneously making us feel understood. If you’ve ever felt passion mixed with uncertainty, desire mixed with rejection, or if you’ve ever been just plain mindfucked, this book will hit home.”
Erika Kleinman, Essays Editor at The Nervous Breakdown 

“With Women, Chloe Caldwell is to Millennials what Anais Nin was to previous generations–a voice that is raw, intimate, thoughtful, compelling. Above all, heartbreakingly real.”

– Samantha Dunn, author of the novel Failing Paris and the memoir Not By Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life

Here’s a photo of Cheryl Strayed, her daughter Bobbi and I at Omega last week. My mom took this. Afterwards, Cheryl asked her kids if they knew they story of how she and my mom knew each other and Bobbi said, “Yeah, the story is like—we’re all related or something.”
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Becca Worby’s reading series in  Crown Heights was fantastic. The little bookstore was homey and smelled like wood and felt like a sauna but in a good way. I got to be reunited with Kassi Underwood, and see my friend Molly Oswaks.  We ate some delicious sushi in the back of a cab and then had a bunch of wine and deep conversation. P.S. Molly and I are in the early stages of planning a launch party for WOMEN  in Brooklyn, details TBA.


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Me at the podium gazing at Kassi.

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The Q and A got pretty serious. Becca grilled us about our nonfiction habit.


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Leslie Jamison and I. As I double fist my phone and an IPA.

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My personal essay class begins in less than a month! We will study essays by Leslie (above!), Jonathan Ames, David Sedaris, Michelle Mirsky, Cheryl Strayed, Lidia Yuknavitch, Emily Rapp, and MORE.

Sign up.  It’s fun as hell, I promise!

 Oh, and I published an essay on Human Parts the other day, called Behind The Till.