For this edition of Women We Love, we feature author, mother, equestrian, and
collaborator, Courtney Maum.
Courtney Maum is the author of the highly acclaimed novels Costalegre, Touch, and I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You. Her writing has been widely published in such outlets as the New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, and Poets & Writers. She has co-written films that have debuted at Sundance and won awards at Cannes.
One aspect, amongst several, that we admire about Maum is her ongoing drive to actively share resources with a wider community. Her most recent publication, Before and After the Book Deal: A writer’s guide to finishing, publishing, promoting, and surviving your first book is a disarming handbook that she designed to help first-time authors navigate what can often initially feel opaque or disorienting process. In the same altruistic vein, Maum also offers a free writing-advice newsletter, “Get Published, Stay Published,” to which you can subscribe at CourtneyMaum.com. She is the founder of The Cabins, an interdisciplinary
retreat program that encourages creative collaboration.
While we are fans of her fiction and non-fiction alike, in our own explorations of
sustainability, intentionality, and community – we keep returning to passages from Maum’s second novel, Touch. Whether the sentiments of Maum’s characters are heartfelt or humorous, we relate to them as they redefine a ‘life well lived’ in the contemporary context of the attention economy.
Favorite DELAROQ bag: Troisième Small Crossbody in Molasses.
How has your upbringing influenced you?
I was raised in Greenwich, CT in the 1980s among a lot of privilege and a good deal of opportunity that I’m grateful for, but this was also a time of conspicuous consumption, prejudice, and a lot of waste. The fact that I value quality over quantity and that I spend my free time doing activities that bring me pleasure rather than activities that “look good” to others or check off some kind of “women do this” box is directly related to my upbringing. I think that I will always explore themes of privilege and emotional deprivation in my writing because of the environment I was raised in.
What is some of the best advice that you’ve ever been given?
I came across an anonymous quote a few years ago: Speak in such a way that others love to listen to you. Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you. At the time, I think I was too loud of a storyteller, too overly concerned with being funny or a little shocking with my words. I wasn’t listening enough. That quote—which I wish I could attribute to someone—helped me to be softer in my speaking, my listening and with my written words, as well.
What does sustainability mean to you?
I always interrogate myself before a purchase. Do I truly need this? Am I tempted to buy this thing because I’m falling into the convenience trap that society has set for me and I’m too lazy to wait or make due without it, or is this item really going to ease my life in an important way? For example, if I forget my water bottle when I’m out, I’ll try to refresh at public water fountains rather than buy a plastic water bottle. Unless, of course, I’m suffering from extreme thirst or heat or something, you know?
How do you restore, nourish, and reset yourself?
I reserve Mondays and Tuesdays exclusively for my creative writing. Those days are sacred, they’re not for emails, not for outside projects, not for running errands or even socializing with friends. And I don’t work on the weekends. I find that when I really force a break between the work week and the weekend, I’m super refreshed on Monday and ready to get back to my manuscripts, again.
What do you like most about your personal style?
I like that almost all of my items—both accessories and clothing—are vibrating with energy because they came from someone else. I wear a lot of vintage clothes and/or hand-me-downs from my French mother-in-law who has incredible style. When I step out in used clothing, I feel like I am charging up my body and mind with the myths and stories of many women who have come before me, and it gives me the feeling that I’m connected to a strong and wondrous community.
Tell us about some of the current or upcoming projects that excites you most?
I can’t wait to get back to a non-fiction project that I was working on about my experiences with depression and how returning to horseback riding after thirty years helped me to better manage my anxiety and insomnia. And I’m really excited to find out who will be joining us at our collaborative retreat, The Cabins, this June!