What Matters: Roxane Gay

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Debbie Millman has started a new project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an ongoing effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer 10 identical questions, and submit a decidedly nonprofessional photograph.

Up next: Roxane Gay, a writer of works both short and long. She also has a newsletter called The Audacity, on Substack, to which you should subscribe.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

That depends. My favorite thing is spending time with my wife, Debbie Millman, who is asking me this question, so that’s kind of awkward. My other favorite thing is reading. I get so much pleasure from losing myself in a book.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

I’ve shared this before, but my first creative memory is of drawing a little village on a napkin. That became something of a habit, and I would then write stories about the people I imagined living in that village.

What is your biggest regret?

My biggest regret is that I have spent so much of my time and energy mired in self-loathing. It’s unproductive but hard to pull yourself out of. I would have written like 20 more books with the energy I spent feeling so terrible about myself.

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

I tend to run away from heartbreak in a very dramatic fashion, like moving thousands of miles away or making a complete career change. M&Ms have also been a balm to my broken heart.

What makes you cry?

I don’t cry much in my day-to-day life, but a movie with some kind of poignant thing happening? I basically need an entire box of Kleenex when that happens. It just opens up something in me.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

Unfortunately, the pride and joy of accomplishment lasts for less and less time. It’s really kind of sad, because I want to sit in that moment, especially given how hard I work. But then I get there to that mountaintop, and all I can think about is what I want to conquer next.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I don’t believe in an afterlife. Whatever it ends up being will be a surprise to me.

What do you hate most about yourself?

I struggle with my thighs.

What do you love most about yourself?

I work hard and I am very loyal.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

My favorite meal is a Caesar salad and a medium-rare, juicy ribeye.