Claire Dederer

Guest Claire Dederer’s 2017 Paris Review Essay, “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?” inspired today’s episode about selfishness, and the ways in which we’re often culturally conditioned to feel badly about carving out time for our creative pursuits. Brooke and Grant explore their feelings around selfishness, sharing some of their individual struggles to strike that all-elusive balance, and explore the various ways in which selfishness can be a force for good when it comes to creativity.


Claire Dederer is the author of two critically acclaimed memoirs: Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning and Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, a New York Times bestseller. Claire is at work on Monsters, a nonfiction book investigating good art made by bad people, based on her 2017 essay for the Paris Review, “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?” Her essays, criticism, and reviews have appeared in The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The Nation, Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, Real Simple, Entertainment Weekly, and many other publications. Claire began her career as the chief film critic for Seattle Weekly and has taught at Hugo House and the University of Washington, as well as residencies, workshops, conferences, MFA programs, and universities across the country. She’s a fourth-generation Seattle native. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband and and two children. Find her on Twitter @ClaireDederer.

Writing Action: Reframing Selfishness

This episode’s writing action asks listeners to identify for themselves where their selfish feelings might be coming from for the sake of clearing out any muck which may need to be cast aside. Make two columns. The left column will say “Where do I see myself through the lens of deficiency?” at the top. The right column will say “Where do I need to be seen through the lens of value/worth?” This exercise ideally opens an opportunity for writers to discern between the driven need to be perfect or seen (which is ego-driven) vs. encouragement/acknowledgment (which stems from and validates self-worth).

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