Interviews / Books, Books, Books / Flourishing / Writing

Limitations are Essential to Human Thriving

. 24 min read . Written by Russell Smith
Limitations are Essential to Human Thriving

A beautiful conversation with mother, author and pediatrician Sherry Shenoda

In September, I attended the wedding of my sister-in-law in Cincinnati. That weekend, I met the family of my now-brother-in-law, Michael. A special weekend became even more memorable as I became acquainted with them. Michael and his family originally come from Egypt and are Coptic Christians, a branch of Orthodox Christianity that makes up about 10% of the population of Egypt. I felt especially eager to meet Michael’s sister, Sherry Shenoda. Shortly before the wedding, I’d read her novel, The Lightkeeper.

To say I love the book is a massive understatement. I found it so full of rich and beautiful themes. Sherry and I enjoyed some terrific conversations that weekend, including one 90-minute marathon in which I asked her all the questions I had written down as I read and reflected on the book. For a book lover, it was heaven speaking with Sherry about her imaginative creation, her literary choices, and the philosophy of the book. I asked Sherry if she’d be interested in a second round of conversation about The Lightkeeper and she kindly agreed. This interview was such a treat! I hope you enjoy it – and definitely read the novel!

Finally, right after the wedding, Sherry was longlisted for the National Book Award – Poetry for her new book, Mummy Eaters. Check it out too! You can also learn more about Sherry at her website.

Sherry, it is wonderful to see you and hear your voice again.

Likewise Russell.

I loved our conversation on the Sunday of the wedding. It was really eye-opening and enlightening to me. I appreciate your willingness to chat with me further.

It was really eye-opening for me too. You asked me questions that I had not even considered when I was writing the book. So it was wonderful to speak to someone who had read it so generously. I really appreciate that.

As I told you, over the past many years, I have read a few fiction books, but not many and nothing we could call literature. The Lightkeeper has reawakened the power of literature to me. I’ve been on a big fiction kick since our first conversation.

I love it. I’m so glad to hear that.

You are a physician by training, you’re a writer, you’re a poet, you’re a mother, you’re a wife. I’m curious. How do you describe what you do?

That’s a good definition. That list that you just gave, and the pediatrician, and writer, and mother: I’m not sure which one I would put first. Maybe mother, then writer and then pediatrician. I would put them in that order.  I was a writer before I was a doctor. I’ve been writing stories since I was really little.

As readers read your writing, what’s your hope for them? What do you want for them in that act?

So I was kind of a shy, introverted kid and maybe a shy introverted adult now. Books have been some of my best companions. When people read my writing, I hope that they find a good companion in my stories for at least a time on their journey. Books can keep us company and they can get us through hard times. If my writing can do that for someone, I will be really pleased.

Companions. I love that word. It’s such a beautiful concept, and that brings to mind something you mentioned in a podcast you did last year. You noted a special birthday tradition you have with your friend Veronica, who is one of the people you dedicated The Lightkeeper to. Can you tell us more about that tradition with Veronica? How did it come about and what is it?

We don’t make it every year, but we try to take a writing retreat once a year. Her family has a cabin in the mountains. It’s quiet. We just sit and it’s creatively recharging for me. We catch up and we write. We try to do it every year. Sometimes we go twice a year. Sometimes there are years we can’t make it at all. But, we do our best to try to make it.

To the extent you feel comfortable sharing any details about how it goes or what you all work on, I’d be fascinated to hear it.

It’s the opposite of exciting! We wake up. It’s very Hobbit-ish, for lack of a better word. It’s a very Hobbit aesthetic. We have on our cozy sweaters and cozy socks. And we get a fire going. We have candles and we eat cozy breakfasts and put pots of soup on the stove while we’re writing and we stay up at night with a glass of wine. It’s just very cozy and quiet. Then we chat. Whenever one of us gets stuck in a plot tangle, we sometimes talk it out. Sometimes I try to get up in the mornings and go for walks too. It’s a beautiful area. So, a little bit of walking with writing and a lot of sitting and being, just quiet. It’s very low-key, companionable, and peaceful.

That peace and the stillness – what a great gift to each other.

Yeah. It’s beautiful. She’s been a wonderful presence in my life. We’ve been friends for almost 35 years. A long time.

Can you tell me more about your friendship with Veronica? Again, in the same podcast, the host mentioned you had “forged a friendship without language”. Tell us about that.

We met before either of us could speak English. She’s Cuban and only spoke Spanish, and I only spoke Arabic. We met in a sandbox and it didn’t really matter that we couldn’t speak the same language. Initially, it was just play. It was that generous magic that kids are able to create. We made a friendship without words. And then words became a large part of our friendship later on. We’ve spent countless hours talking about good stories since then. Actually, a friend told me recently that in the Waldorf Education tradition for really young kids, the thought is that they’re in a dream state until they’re about 7 years old and the job of the parent is not to wake them. That really struck a chord with me. I feel like we were in that kind of dream childhood state and we didn’t need words. We communicated in a way that kids do.

How has your work with children as a pediatrician impacted your fiction?

That’s a tough question for me to answer. I’ve worked with a lot of children who have or are experiencing trauma and my fiction is a way to deal with some of what I’ve experienced secondhand through patients. I don’t write at all about medicine. It’s not something that I’m interested in doing. But I find that fantasy, in particular, is a really powerful way to talk about truth. If you look at Tolkien for example. I’m not an expert on Tolkien, but The Lord of the Rings, in many ways, was his way of processing what he had seen during the First World War.

I deal with my own fiction in the same way. It’s not intentional necessarily. It’s not that I saw this trauma and I need to write in a way to get it out of my system. That’s not what I’m trying to say. It’s more of a way of dealing with the trauma by telling truth in a way that’s universal. Fantasy is universal in a way that music or mythology are universal. It transcends language and culture in many ways. But you can use fiction, and fantasy in particular, as a way to carry heavy truth without writing a sermon or a lecture or an essay. Those formats are other ways to do it, but for me, fiction and fantasy are the ways that it comes out most naturally.

Let me address the same topic but in a different way. On your website, you say you want to help create a “kinder, simpler sandbox.” Why do you use those adjectives?

I think it’s speaking to that kind of magic. Not to romanticize childhood – there are a lot of things that are really difficult about being a kid, especially when you’re pre-verbal. It can be frustrating to express yourself. But, there is a magic quality in childhood – children don’t see the same complications that adults do. My son, for instance – he’s almost three. He’ll walk up to strangers in the store, and say “Hi, what’s your name?” “How’s your day?” Regardless of how that person looks. He approaches people regardless of age, gender, or race. It’s really beautiful. That’s the image of the sandbox I have – when you can simply sit beside someone and play together. You’re unselfconscious about it.

Can I ask a totally different question – something I am curious about? Do you read professional books? Books like how to become a better doctor, writer or poet? Or books on productivity?

I do actually. I try to be selective about them. But, I do love to. I think they sharpen our skill set. But, not so much about medicine. I read to keep up to date on medical topics that are relevant to my practice. I do read productivity books like Atomic Habits and Deep Work. They were both great.

Yes, Deep Work was excellent.

Attention is the currency of our current economy. It’s a deadly thing for creative work if you’re not able to go deep. If we’re not able to regain our attention, it’s hard to do really good creative work. That book really helped. Also, I do read books on the craft of writing. A couple of really good writing books have been helpful for me. One is Steven King’s book, On Writing. Another one was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. And then there are a couple by Ursula K. Le Guin and Madeline L’Engle that have been really helpful. And then there’s a poetry kind of manual by Mary Oliver. It’s a technical book, but it’s done in a very Mary Oliver poetic way and that’s been helpful. People ask, “what is poetry?” A lot of things can pass for poetry, but the limitation of form is still important and helpful. We can talk about limitations later. But, I think that limitations are still really useful, even in free verse. And so, I like to keep up with writing on the craft of writing. But, once you know the rules, you can either break them deliberately or work within their confines. That can be really creatively freeing  – actually to have limitations. To say to yourself: “I am going to write a sonnet” and then force yourself into the limitation of that form.

Sherry, let’s get into your novel, The Lightkeeper. And, as I’ve already mentioned, your novel has sparked a return to reading fiction, and literature for me. I found the book so compelling for many reasons. Since I read it, back in August, there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t reflected on something about it and some lesson it’s brought to the fore for me. Let’s start with a basic question: you hinted a little bit at this earlier, but why did you write this book?

Thank you so much, Russell, for those kind words. I really appreciate it.

I wrote it mostly to deal with the secondary trauma of my medical training. It’s the beginning of my conversation with God about why there’s suffering in the world. In particular, why there’s suffering directed at children, though there is no trauma directed at children in the book.

It’s a time travel story about a lightkeeper who’s pulled through time against her will. She doesn’t have free will. She’s kind of this ageless, nameless entity. And her work is to keep lighthouses lit and she travels through time to do it. She’s called to different places where the need is greatest at the time. Sometimes she’s there to save a drowning sailor or for some other task. That’s the premise of the novel. It has nothing discernible to do with childhood trauma. But for me, that’s what it was about. It was about dealing with some of the helplessness in medicine. A lot of physicians and medical professionals feel this sort of anonymity that we have to take on to help. We also often don’t know what happened after we helped, what the outcome was. You see a patient. You try to be there for them in their time of need. Then their life is no longer intersecting with yours. Their life moves on and your life moves on, and you have no idea if you’ve helped or not. So I was trying to work out a lot of that.

Really it’s a story about this lightkeeper and her time travels. And it tells the story of how she ultimately finds a home and finds love, and what happens then.

Can you tell us about the process of writing it? What was the process? How long did it take? What were the steps and how did you know you had something really cool on your hands?

In the beginning, it was actually a dream about a woman who was burying a man who had just died. It was a really awful, tense scene where it was difficult to bury him and she doesn’t know why. I had no idea about the characters: I didn’t know who they were, their names or their relationship to each other. The characters revealed themselves to me over time. Once the characters told me who they were, a lot of it was written in these scenes. Then came the slog of turning it into a coherent novel. Moving portions around so that it made sense and then some of those scenes were eventually removed. I’ve never built a house. But I imagine you build the foundation and a supporting wall and as the rest of the house comes up, that wall may have to come down. It’s a little bit like that. Then there were a couple of years to publication. The publisher is deciding if they want the novel. It’s a lot of hurrying up and waiting. Then there’s a lot of editing. But in the very beginning, the novel started as a dream.

You mentioned a minute ago this theme of free will. Reading the book, free will is such an ambiguous concept. Early on, it seems the lightkeeper has very limited free will. She can’t choose where she is taken, but she does choose whether to give assistance once she gets there. Later, there’s a dramatic moment when the lightkeeper and Ronan have a moment of decision and they can express free will. Can you talk us through this theme?

This book was me grappling with the concept of free will. Initially, you’re right. She’s pulled through time to the place where the need is greatest and she feels like she doesn’t have free will. But you’re right in that she still can choose. For instance, she could decide, “I’m not going to intervene and save these sailors. I’m just going to let them drown.” There is one flashback that keeps replaying in her mind – she didn’t intervene and the guilt of it gnaws at her for a long time, because she’s been around for a long time. Then, like you said, there’s a very specific scene where she clearly takes on the burden of free will. Sometimes we think having more options is easier and better, but sometimes more options can be a burden. I was trying to illustrate both sides of that question as best I could. That both options are hard.

I think it’s so beautifully done because it just revealed the power of free will, but as you just said, the burden of free will and the emotional toll we take when we have free will and we don’t choose what we really think we should choose.


Another theme from the book, and I think it’s a modern theme, is home. The lightkeeper doesn’t have a home initially, either in place or time. But she finds a home, although in some sense she felt strangely when she got there. She had a sense that the place was different than the places she had been before. The modern take on “home” has evolved with Covid, and people moving and working in different places than their companies are located. How do we know we have come home when we’ve never been there before? Tell us more about this theme of home and place.

I don’t know how modern an idea it is. I completely understand what you’re saying. But, I wonder, as humans, if there’s something in us that wants variations on the same thing. To me, the idea of home is the place where we’re seen and known. Where people recognize us. Even after the main transition in the lightkeeper’s life, there’s a sense that people can’t remember her. Her memory is ephemeral. Once she leaves a place, people forget who she is. I wanted her to be that way because a lot of us feel that way. Often, we feel like people don’t really see us. It was this idea that she’s longing for a place. She’s never been there, but she’s longing for a place where people see her, remember her and know her. In the Orthodox tradition, when someone passes away, we tell their family members, “May their memory be eternal.” And in Arabic, in the Coptic Church, we say: “May you live and remember.” This idea of remembering the dead to keep them alive is something that I’ve grown up with. The place where we find a home is the place where people remember us. They bring us to memory. They know us. They know us deeply. They see the true version of us. I don’t know, but it feels universal to me. It feels like every human wants a place to belong. Maybe with some exceptions, but it feels like most people want that.

You get that sense in the novel. The lightkeeper, she – “rebelled” isn’t quite the right word, but she doesn’t always love this life in constant movement, what you call her “translations.” She doesn’t like being forced to go from place to place. She doesn’t like the transitory nature of the relationships she has. She has no idea when she’ll leave next. She can be walking in mid-step and, bam! she’s in a totally new place and time. That becomes deeply disturbing to her. She yearns for a home and a place and a place where people do know her.

Yes, she does. She’s never had the constancy and the steadiness that most people experience in a family. And she doesn’t know what it’s called. But I think it’s very human to want that.

This gets us to a different topic. Let me go back to the beginning of our conversation. I asked you how you see yourself, how you see your identity. You chose your identity as a writer, pediatrician and mother, at least to some extent. Your mother is a doctor, so maybe nature or nurture pulled you in that direction. But you had a choice, to some extent. In the book, the lightkeeper does not choose her work. Share with us your thoughts on calling, having a calling and stepping away from your calling.

The idea of individualism is a really Western concept, at least in my understanding. Recently, listening to the mythologist Martin Shaw, talking about finding the story that we are meant to tell in the world. He said that sometimes we have to realize that the story that we are going to tell may not be the one we want to tell; it may not be one we even choose to tell. Sometimes the path finds us, and our decision point is whether we’re going to walk on it or not. That struck a chord with me because the idea of boundlessness and lack of any sort of limitation is very Western. I think there is another path. It’s not all about us and what we want to do with our lives. I think we’re meant to do things with our lives, and the suffering that comes to us illustrates this point well. People don’t choose to have a family member who’s sick or even illness for themselves. We’ve had a lot of illness and accidents in the family. Nobody chooses that. But, individualism doesn’t have a good response to that, I think. The only response to that is the willing acceptance of it, or at least finding a path to work through that. I don’t know that choice has a lot to do with it. I think the choice is how we decide to respond to it. I don’t think choosing the path is always an option for us.

That is so intriguing. We danced around this notion of limits and limitations. The 20th-century British novelist, essayist, and Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton has a line: “all of life is limitation.” We can never do all of the things we want to do. We can never read all the books we want to. We can never go to all the places we want to go. Every decision, in some sense, eliminates every other decision we could possibly make for that moment. Talk to us about this notion of limits and limitations. Maybe it goes back to what you said earlier about limitation – in some sense, it can be freeing.

Sometimes younger women ask me, “how do you do it all?” And I always quickly answer that I don’t. My time and energy are limited. If I’m parenting, I’m not in clinic. If I’m in clinic, I’m not writing. I’m unable to do something else at the same time. Even though it’s uncomfortable to hear, it’s really true. And I’m not interested in telling people empty platitudes. A difficult truth is much preferable to a pretty, dressed-up untruth. My opinion and my belief –  limitations are essential for humans to thrive. We need the boundaries of a limited life and limited time. Things begin to lose their value if they’re not outlined for me, with limitations. You could potentially trace back many of our failings to a lack of limitations. Things like climate change, for instance. We don’t like the idea of being limited in our options, or capacity, or consumption, especially in the West. But that’s the truth of it. The writer Paul Kingsnorth talks about limitations with respect specifically to climate change, if anyone is interested in that. But I think that it extends to many aspects of our lives and I think limitations help. They’re uncomfortable, but they help.

I like that. Limitations are essential. Let me shift gears in talking about the book. Ronan and the lightkeeper become friends, then they fall in love, then they get married. You give us, I think, a beautiful, touching look into their home life, their domestic life. It’s not Instagram-worthy, glamorous, or fast-paced. Talk to us about the beauty of ordinariness.

There’s plenty out there to glamorize the exciting. The lightkeeper goes on these amazing adventures and she travels through time. She goes back to ancient times to tend ancient lighthouses. She goes into the future. There’s plenty in her work life that’s exciting and it needed to be balanced with an ordinary, plain home life, a small life with someone that loves her. I also wanted to subtly communicate, especially to women, who are told that our work should define us, that we need to be educated, and that we need to be working in the marketplace and contributing to society. But, there’s a whole lot of society at home too. To give women all of their options, both need to be treated with equal respect and dignity. There’s a lot of dignity in making a small, comfortable, and noble existence at home. And I wanted to show both. The lightkeeper enjoys both; she has fulfillment in her work but she always wants to go home.

That is the limitation she chose in her own life. Her work life was her entire life and she freely chose to have a home, and a life with one person in one place. She seems happy with that choice and happy with what they have together.


The lightkeeper says her favorite translation is to 1743 Japan to assist a blind lightkeeper whose wife has passed away. The lightkeeper is not saving him and she’s not repairing a lighthouse to help a ship to safety. These scenes in Japan don’t contain intense action. They are scenes of intense heart. I find it intriguing that the lightkeeper favors these moments more than anything she gets to do. Tell us more about that.

In that particular scene, she doesn’t tend to an actual light, which is her usual task. She’s there to be present for this lonely lightkeeper on the most difficult night of the year. It’s an anniversary for him. Sometimes the sacrament is in our presence with someone. Simply being there when someone needs a compassionate presence and support. There’s not much that really can be said, but we can show up for each other. It doesn’t look like she’s doing much, but sometimes the best we can do is show up and sit with someone. There’s this beautiful scene in one of my favorite movies. It’s called Lars and the Real Girl. There’s a tragedy in the family. The women of the town come and they bring their knitting. They’re just sitting around. At one point, one of them says “That’s what you do when something happens. You come and sit.” That’s an indescribable gift when someone is in the thick of it. You know, to show up and be there for them.

Let’s expand on this theme a bit. What you’re getting at is the idea of community. Community is clearly a theme in The Lightkeeper too. You come from an immigrant community and so I’m curious to know your thoughts about community. Today it seems like community is weakening. Online communities are trying to take the place or partial place of roles that have traditionally been taken on by “the community.” Talk to us a little about the theme of community in the book, Sherry.

Anyone who hasn’t had a home, when you get a little bit of it, you latch onto it. She eventually becomes nostalgic for this place that she’s never been to or she’s been to once. We want similar things. Even for people who have been transplanted, as my family has been from one place to another, a lot of things are the same. Being around people that love you, eating good food, and having a place to go where you can let your guard down. A common language is helpful. One of my favorite writers, Wendell Berry, talks about arriving to America. He says: in some ways we’re still arriving to this country. I can’t speak to what we call the immigrant experience because every immigrant experience is very different. But even people that have been in this country for a long time, we are still arriving to this place. It takes a long time, to settle your roots into a place. Having people around you who see you, remember you and know you – that helps us put our roots down. I think anyone who’s ever chosen a family understands this. I have family members who feel that their friends are really, really close. Veronica’s really, really close. She’s family. We’ve decided to be family. This idea of creating community, even as immigrants coming to a new place: often it has a lot to do with choosing the people who make you feel seen and at home. And then creating a loving space between yourselves. People can create a community almost anywhere. You can see it in small neighborhoods. You can see it in religious communities. I have found and made really good friends online. I think online friendships are helpful when they lead to in-person friendships.


That’s the main utility for online forums like social media. Community is a place where we can find each other and be seen.

You made my heart sing, Sherry, when you mentioned my fellow Kentuckian, Wendell Berry. And you mentioned him in the book. You’re a Wendell Berry fan. I’m a Wendell Berry fan. In some sense, we’ve been talking about Wendell Berry themes this whole conversation. I mean, the notion of limitation. Berry argues that we can’t have a hyper-charged consumer industrial culture and environmental health. We have to be concerned about place and community in our world and the bonds that bring us together. Those are all themes that Wendell Berry has written about for 60 years. You mentioned him as one of your favorite writers. Tell us a little bit about his impact on you and your writing.

His themes of place really speak to me, even as an immigrant. His idea of staying in the same place for a long time in order to become a part of that place, and then allowing the place to impact the writing, really speaks to me as a writer and as a mom who is trying to build a community for my children. There’s something to be said about putting down roots in a place and not just consuming the place. Learning the rhythms and patterns of the place and then being a part of it. Sometimes we think of the non-human world as a prop in our own lives. And it’s here. It’s here before us, it’s going to be here after us. We have to find a way to live in the same place and to build community.

Once we become of a place and not just from a place, we can take responsibility for any sins that have been committed there. There are many sins that have been committed in the United States. You know, chief among which is slavery. Berry talks about that. Once we stop saying the people that lived here did this, and start maybe taking responsibility for the things that have happened to the land and to the people that lived on the land before us, we can start to become from the place. There’s a concept in Orthodox Christianity that we are responsible for everyone and everything; once we make ourselves responsible, the whole of creation can be saved, redeemed and enlightened.

There is power in saying “I may not have done something with my own hands, but I’m still responsible for it because I see it.” The lightkeeper does this. She’s not responsible for a ship about to sink, a light that’s gone out, or someone who’s not doing his job. But because she’s there and because she sees it, it actually is her responsibility. And like you were asking earlier, sometimes she chooses not to do it. But then there are consequences to all her decisions. If we see a wrong, being present and part of the human race, once we see something wrong, it becomes our responsibility. So Wendell Berry has taught me a lot of that. It has a lot to do with staying in the same place.

There’s this concept also among the desert fathers in Egypt where they would go out into the desert to escape the annoyances of other people. People can be annoying. One monk is so annoyed by the community that he goes into the inner desert by himself. There’s nothing around him except palm trees. Then the wind through the palm trees starts to annoy him. I think we’re like this. We think that if a situation were perfect, the things that are inside of us would settle themselves. But we don’t always want to take responsibility for the thing that’s inside of us that’s unsettled to begin with. For me, Wendell Berry articulates that with his fiction and with his poetry in particular. He isn’t saying any of that necessarily, but that’s the truth of what he’s portraying. For instance, in Hannah Coulter, which is one of my favorite novels, he tells the story of a woman’s life in very plain terms. It’s a beautiful story and it carries so much truth about human nature. He doesn’t have to say it directly. He shows it.

You’ve given me another 20 questions to think about. That was amazing. Sherry, do you mind if I share one of my favorite passages from The Lightkeeper, for us to end the interview on? This is later in the book. This is in Ogaki, Japan, 1743.

He took a long, trembling breath and drew back from her so that she could see his strong, smoothly shaven jaw, his dark straight hair combed back neatly from his pale skin, and his lips curved into a slight smile. Gently, and slowly enough to give her time to pull back had she wanted to, he bent his head and reverently kissed her forehead, before opening his arms and drawing away.

She stood, frozen to the ground, while he walked back to his seat and held out a hand to her, inviting her to sit across from him. “Welcome home, dear one,” he said softly.

Her feet carried her forward and she ungracefully knelt across from him at the low table, relieved that she didn’t immediately knock over the bowl in front of her. To see that look in another’s eyes, she thought. She thought she had seen it the night before, when Ronan named her. It was a look that focused all the whirling planets and bright stars in the cosmos into a single person, and crowned her queen.

She steadied her breath and watched him fold back his sleeve from a strong, pale wrist to pour the green-gold tea. It steamed fragrantly between them, and she breathed deeply of it, heady with the scent and the bittersweet joy he emanated.

I choose to be here with you, she thought, her eyes smiling at the man across from her. They sipped their tea slowly, taking their time with the ritual, and Aine’s eyes caught again on the keeper’s face when he lifted his tear-filled eyes to her, honoring his beloved with his tears. This time, her shoulders relaxed, her brow unfurrowed, the knot in her middle loosened, and—glory be—she wept with him.

Oh, I love it. Oh, it’s so good.

Thanks so much Russell. I’m so glad that speaks to you. Thank you.

Well Sherry, can I ask you just one last question?

Of course.

You have just been long-listed for the National Book Award in Poetry for your new book, your new volume of poetry, Mummy Eaters. What is next for you?

I don’t know Russell, but I’m excited for it. I’m trying to serve the work when it knocks on my door. There’s a really beautiful poem by Rabindranath Tagore in the book Gitanjali. Tagore writes,

My poet's vanity dies in shame before thy sight.

O master poet, I have sat down at thy feet.

Only let me make my life simple and straight,

like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.

I think of my creative work in this way –  I’m just the reed, and whatever music comes out, I hope that I’m able to serve it properly. I just get out of the way, so the characters can speak, so that the words can take shape and end up where they’re supposed to. I do the best I can to separate myself from the outcome of the work. I try to just do the work, if possible.

Do the work. I love that. I love that. Well, Sherry, that’s an appropriate place for us to end. You’ve been so kind and so generous with your time. I’m so excited to read Mummy Eaters. My copy just arrived. Will you come back again in a few months and talk with us about Mummy Eaters?

Oh, I’d love to.

That would be so amazing. That would make my year.

Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate you and the generosity of your reading. Your questions are so deep and thoughtful. They’ve actually helped me see my writing in a new light. So, thank you so much for that.

Sherry, it’s been such a great pleasure. It’s been such a great pleasure getting to know you a little bit, Andrew [her husband] a little bit and your family, and having Kara [my sister-in-law]  join your family. Thank you for joining me today.

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Images created by Olivia Lund.