We had the good fortune of connecting with Toby B. Hemingway and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Toby, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
The biggest change was having children. They sort of remove the need to think about the balance – they enforce the balance. Even if I wanted to work more, it would be hard to squeeze it in. I like it that way, it removes a lot of the “should I be working right now?” guilt you can feel when you’re creative and work for yourself.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I majored in writing at college. Then I was a professional musician and songwriter for a decade. Then I had retail stores for a decade. But I just kept coming back to writing. I don’t really know why. Since I was in my late teens it has felt like the only thing that I’m good at. Or at least, better at than most other people I know. It’s not easy, but that’s okay. As long as I’m doing it, I don’t mind that it’s hard. It’s when I can’t do it for some reason – maybe family or other life commitments, or health, or I just don’t have it in me – that I find hard.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I like Griffith Park – I’ll include in that the Greek Theatre, the Observatory, the Hollywood Reservoir, the trails – all of it. I’ve lived in Silver Lake for 14 years, there’s a lot to see here that has kept my interest all that time… the Reservoir, the bars and small businesses like El Condor & Black Cat. Secret Head Quarters. Skylight Books, is next door in Los Feliz, where I will always visit Daily Donuts, too. I like old, weird Venice, also. I lived there in 1999-2001 and hold-outs like Hinano Cafe and El Tarasco still bring a smile to my face.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve been thinking about my writing teacher from my first year of my degree, lately. Her name was Judith Rodriguez. She was an amazingly enthusiastic and supportive teacher. She was always putting us onto great prose writing. We stayed in touch here and there for years after I graduated. It wasn’t until after she died a few years ago that I learned what an amazing and respected poet she was. Judith never talked about her own work. Most teachers will bore you to death about their own work and work out their demons or disappointments on you from time to time. But Judith never said a word. I’ve gotten more into poetry as I’ve aged. I wish I’d known her secret while she was still with us.