Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Noelle Conner.
Hi Allison Noelle, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’ve been living in Hollywood since 2013, though I’m originally from South Florida.
I’ve always loved stories and storytelling from a young age. Especially books and movies, two forms that are intimately connected for me. They gave language to the things I was unable to express. Growing up, I was (and still am) an intensely emotional and sensitive person, so books and movies became a haven for me, offering portals to slip down, a way of encountering other modes of being and perceiving.
My earliest influences were fairy tales—I was into anything involving princesses and magical beings, and used to write my own little tales about forest sprites and mermaids on my dad’s electric typewriter.
At 18, I moved to Boston to study English and film at college. During this time, I wrote constantly, mostly in my diary. Sometimes I’d sketch out story ideas or scenes, but I never shared it with anyone. By the time I graduated, all I wanted to do was write and learn more about creative writing, so I decided to apply to MFA programs. That’s how I ended up in California, to go to CalArts. That experience was a big turning point. I was exposed to nontraditional approaches to writing, which really shook me out of my comfort zone in the best way.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As with everything, the road is full of ups and downs. I’m learning to appreciate where the journey is taking me, the unexpected detours and spirals, rather than hyperfocus on reaching a specific destination (which I used to spend a lot of time doing).
There’s a lot that’s frustrating about the writing industry, from access issues to low wages to a lack of diversity across race, class, gender expression, ability, and more. In many ways, sustaining yourself in this field partially involves a mix of luck and circumstance. There are so many phenomenal writers who do not continue because of the financial, physical, and/or psychic stresses. I don’t take for granted I get to do what I do.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Since 2020, I’ve been working as a freelance arts and culture writer. I write articles, essays, interviews, profiles and reviews focused on Black cultural production across the diaspora. A dream, really. I don’t have a formal fine art background, so it’s been a fun challenge to learn about other creative forms like photography, sculpture, and video art. I’m really drawn to work that disrupts the status quo, that reminds us there’s multiple ways of being in this world beyond what we’ve been told/shown. I love when an artwork takes me somewhere else—physically, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, historically.
Outside of the freelance hustle, I try to carve out time for my own personal projects. Right now, I’m working on a series of long-form essays that blend criticism, dreams, poetry, memory, and research. Around the beginning of the pandemic, when I was unemployed and restless, I started a newsletter about movies I was obsessed with called Loose Pleasures. It felt good to have the space to play and experiment without pressure to make it perfect or even fully legible. So I’ve been working on fleshing those essays out and really pushing the blend of styles as far as possible.
I also write fiction that mostly lives in my notebooks and Word drafts, haha! I see my stories as little films that exist on the page. One of my favorite writers is Marguerite Duras—I’m fascinated by how she blurred the boundaries between cinema and literature. I aspire to do something similar with my own work.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
First off, I want to take a moment to shout out to my parents. They’ve been my biggest cheerleaders from the jump, and I would not be where I am without their unwavering love and support. And my boyfriend, Pony. He really encouraged me to take my writing seriously and to apply to grad school.
I also want to acknowledge two teachers who had an enormous impact on my reading and writing practice: Kimberly Juanita Brown and Tisa Bryant. Not only did they stretch my mind in transformative ways, they also introduced me to writers who became important guiding lights: Gayl Jones, June Jordan, Bhanu Kapil, Renee Gladman, Dionne Brand, and Adrienne Kennedy, to name a few.
- Instagram: @loosepleasures
- Twitter: @al_noellec
- Other: https://loosepleasures.substack.com/