Dianca London Potts earned her MFA in Fiction from The New School. She is a 2015 Pushcart Prize Nominee and a Best Small Fictions finalist for 2016. She is a Kimbilio Fiction fellow, the former prose editor of LIT Magazine, and the former online editor of Well-Read Black Girl. Her words have been featured in Shondaland, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Lenny Letter, and elsewhere. Her memoir, Planning for the Apocalypse, is forthcoming from 37 Ink. You can follow her musings at @diancalondon.
1. Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?
I’ve never really thought about it before. My relationship to characters shifts each time I revisit a text and depending on what’s going on off the page--whether it’s politics, the forever anxiety-inducing news cycle, or my personal life--my connection to characters and the narratives that they inhabit evolves. Lately, I’ve resonated a lot with Caliban. I’ve always been drawn the way he navigates space throughout The Tempest and his duality. He definitely has a dark side (and makes some regrettable decisions), but he’s not a villain in the same sense as Prospero. I admire the way that Caliban finds stability and his own form of power by weaponizing language and forms of knowledge that even Prospero and those who yearn to tame him can’t grasp or harness. There’s something really captivating about the way he embodies the divine and monstrous, the way that even in his darkest moments, there’s rebellion bubbling beneath the surface of his sorrow, joy, or rage. For me, he’s a reminder of how powerful resistance against those who wish to muzzle or dismiss our voices can be. He’s also the son of a witch, so there’s that too. He’s just fascinating.
2. When did you know you were a writer?
When I was ten or eleven, rereading Sweet Valley High andBaby-Sitters Club wasn’t enough (and hadn’t discovered Louis Duncan or the Dear America series yet), so I started writing my own YA novels. The plots were completely cliche and filled with tropes, but I the more I wrote, the more I felt like my characters were real, like I was responsible for finishing their stories. I kept all my makeshift novels in a binder and even made covers for them along with character pages comprised of cut out pictures from Delia’s and Alloy catalogs that I glued together into a collage. In junior high and high school I wrote cringe-worthy poetry on my Xanga and dabbled in short stories and personal essays in undergrad (during which I was an English major, of course) while writing music reviews and band interviews for my college’s newspaper and for various blogs (for free, unfortunately). I always wrote but was never sure if I was a writer with a capital “W” until I got in a pretty serious bike accident in 2012 and realized that what I wanted most out of life was to tell stories and dig into narratives and learn how to craft my own. A year after my bike accident, I was enrolled as an MFA candidate at The New School.
3. What are you currently working on?
I’m a freelancer so, I’m constantly trying to cook up pitches and finishing up assignments to send into various editors. I’m also working on my memoir, Planning for the Apocalypse (forthcoming from 37 Ink) and a novel which evolved from a short story that I wrote during my first year at TNS, plus three additional ideas for novels that I hope to focus more on after the next draft of my memoir is squared away. I also have a monthly tiny letter called Nobody Asked You and I’m working on forgiving myself for all the days I don’t write or don’t write enough. I’m trying to learn how to be kinder to myself and more patient with my process.
4. How has your writing process changed over the years?
I’ve learned to lean into what works best for me, how to focus on what fuels my creativity, productivity, and growth rather than focusing on what’s buzzworthy or trendy. When I write, I write wholeheartedly. When I don’t or can’t write, I read or listen to music. I pull tarot cards, spend time with friends, or sit in silence and let my mind wander. I’ve experienced a lot of bumps in the road over the last year (anxiety, depression, financial uncertainties, being plagiarized, etc.) and burned a few bridges by choice, but all of it has helped me take hold of my voice and my relationship with the page and my process. Right now, my process centers around exposing the ego, capturing joy and sorrow within the span of a sentence, and embodying my ethics on the page and off. Whether it’s fiction, a listicle, or a personal essay, I want each piece to reveal who I am and what I care about. My process is rooted in the desire to conjure words I can stand by wholeheartedly. It’s rooted in a desire to excavate hidden (or suppressed) truths.
5. Describe your writing style in one sentence.
Millennial angst and suburban sadness meets Bessie Head.