Love through the lens of Blair Braverman

An Interview with Blair Braverman on love and dogsled racing

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Blair Braverman is a nonfiction writers and dogsledder whose work has appeared in This American Life, The Atavist, Buzzfeed, Orion, The Best Women’s Travel Writing and elsewhere. She is training for the Iditarod, a 1100-mile dogsled race across Alaska. Her first book, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, was released from Ecco/HarperCollins in July. This week on Writers Who Don’t Write Blair speaks to us about writing while traveling the world as a dogsledder and the isolating factors of both, adapting a piece of longform writing for radio, how and why she structured her book the way she did, her process for some of writing nonfiction journalism, and what it was like to write the story of her transgender partner.

In the episode, I asked Blair about what it’s like writing about something that was clearly so difficult for her and the possible trepidation of writing about her wilderness adventures, sexual assault and her transgender partner for the whole world to see. Her answer surprised me because she said that in a lot of cases if she could go back, she wouldn’t have written the pieces in the first place. She said that it often wasn’t good for her health, which I think is something uniquely linked to the stress of the whole ordeal. One story she discussed with us that she was ultimately really happy she wrote was What I’ve Learned From Having a Trans Partner.

On Writers Who Don’t Write we’re lucky enough to be able to do a deep dive into a lot of writing that moves us, and this was a really special case of that. We were able to see an entirely new layer of a really beautiful piece that dealt with the rawest form of love in a place a lot of people don’t expect it. Blair was able to give us a bit of insight into the piece that was, if possible, more beautiful than the piece itself, and it all began with her anger at being asked to write about her transgender partner in the first place.

The main issue seemed to be the thought process behind her writing this piece as opposed to her partner. The idea that putting something like their relationship through the lens of Blair makes it more interesting than if it came from his POV (and he’s a writer) because you get to see interesting characters through the lens of someone relatable is really offensive to some. Well, lucky for us she used this as an outlet to show the reader why she fell in love with him in the way she did, regardless of the fact that he’s trans and in fact because of it.

If possible, it’s more beautiful to hear her discuss the essay than it was to read it, which is saying something.

Yet again, Kyle and I are taking a break (this time it’s because we need to find a new studio), so enjoy Blair’s episode and catch up on our entire backlist (24 episodes!!!!!!) and we’ll see you in a bit.

I know this election is crazy contentious, and that’s fine. That’s kind of the nature of the beast. However it’s still important to show up on November 8. Know what you have to do before then? Register to vote.

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