May 22, 2017
Carrie La Seur, an environmental and energy attorney by trade, is taking a leave this year to be a full-time novelist. She’s working on her second novel, The Weight of An Infinite Sky, due out the winter of 2018. Her first novel, The Home Place, debuted in 2014 and was published by William Morrow (and currently has a 4 star rating on Amazon!).
I got here by writing a lot my whole life, whatever else I was doing, because writing is my resting pulse rate. I completed a novel (not even close to my first) and found a NYC literary agent in 2012. She sold my novel in a 2-book deal to William Morrow in 2013 and it came out in 2014. We’re getting ready to publish the second and Morrow has optioned a third that I’m writing now. I also publish stories (there’s one in a collection called Montana Noir, due out in September), essays, and book reviews.
My mentor taught me how to run a law office by taking it one crisis at a time.
One of my mentors is Judi Whetstine, a recently retired Assistant U.S. Attorney who helped me found Plains Justice, a nonprofit law center focused on energy and climate work. She taught me to stand in the storm and calmly prioritize, and also inspired me to get my pilot’s license.
I dream of someday winning a Nobel prize for something nobody knew you could win a Nobel for, like Bob Dylan. Setting my literary œuvre to Bolivian flute maybe.
In my spare time, I serve as the board president for This House of Books, a new cooperatively-owned independent bookstore in my hometown, Billings, Montana (You can buy shares! thishouseofbooks.com). I’m also on the board of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a progressive think tank, and Plains Justice. In case that’s not enough, my two sons keep me thoroughly distracted.
I wish I had more time to participate in protest marches. Write and call my Congressional representatives. Sue oil companies. Travel. Learn languages. Practice musical instruments. Wander great art museums and little art galleries. Read. Bike. Surf. Be alone. Play sportsball with my sons. Go on fabulous spa weekends with my friends. Write.
What I love most about NYC is the abundance of art, artists, writers, and music – but mostly the art. If the museums had known how much I’d use my membership privileges, they would’ve charged me more. I’ll sit on a bench and write a full page of my novel in progress on my phone’s Notes app after something in the Met strikes me down. The force of all that passion in one place breaks my heart and rebuilds it again, more hopeful.
My time at Bryn Mawr taught me that done is good. I had to learn for myself that some of the things most worth doing are never done.
My advice to the Class of 2021 is sleep when you’re old (no, scratch that – you’ll be even busier then). There’s so much to take in. Don’t miss a minute. Give yourself permission to try everything that calls to you and invent those things if you need to. Be kind. You’re all stressed out of your minds.
My advice to the Class of 2017 is to remember that success isn’t instantaneous. Sometimes you have to stick with the thing you can’t let go of, no matter how dented and un-showoffable it looks, because it’s a golden thread that will make your life worth walking through every day. I was 42 when I published my first novel. Who knows if this will go anywhere – but I see my books in store windows and I’m more proud and thrilled about that than anything else in my life. (You don’t need to mention this to my children.)
If anyone is interested in connecting with me, email at email@example.com.