Former high-fashion model Meghan Ward, author of Runway: Confessions of a not-so super model, offers readers a hilarious and shocking behind-the-scenes look at the industry we love to hate.
When did you first decide you were a writer?
When I was in first grade, I wanted to be a poet. I used to check this book of French poetry out at the school library, which is odd because I later learned French and moved to France. While modeling in Paris I decided I wanted to be a screenwriter. That dream ended when I didn’t get into UCLA film school. So I declared an English major and started writing a memoir instead. After graduation, I got a job as a newspaper reporter. Eventually, with hundreds of daily news stories, dozens of features, and a couple drafts of my memoir under my belt, I felt confident to call myself a writer.
What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken in your writing?
In Runway I talk about masturbation. I talk about my period. I talk about failure. But I think the scariest scenes to write were personal anecdotes about my family. I didn’t know how they’d react and I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. Fortunately, most of those scenes were edited out.
What advice do you have for an aspiring writer who is just starting out?
Write as often as possible. Read a lot. Take writing classes. Take writers’ group critiques with a grain of salt. Never give up.
Have you ever written anything personal that upset people who were close to you? Have you ever shied away from writing something because someone you know might read it?
This was a big issue for me while I was writing my memoir. The advice I got in my MFA program at Mills College was to write it now and worry about it later. That turned out to be good advice because most of it got cut anyway—not because I was worried about upsetting people but because it didn’t move the story along. By getting it all down on paper, I was freed up to figure out what the story really was. In the end, there was a single line of prose that I decided to remove in order not to upset my parents.
Do you currently have a job other than writing? What’s the most interesting day job you’ve had?
Modeling was definitely my most interesting day job. The others have been newspaper reporter, freelance book editor, and waitress, which don’t quite compare.
Are you or have you ever been a member of a book club? What does/did that experience offer you?
I am. If it weren’t for my book club, I might never read fiction. Because I read books for a living (as a book editor and as a social media coach), I really need that monthly deadline to force me to make time to read good novels.
Do you have an e-reader? What book are you reading on it now? When do you like to read on a device?
I do! I have an iPad that I mostly read on at night in bed. Right now I’m reading Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and it’s wonderful.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I love Jo Ann Beard, Dave Eggers, Junot Diaz, Nell Freudenberger, Yiyun Li, Donna Tartt, Haruki Murakami, John Steinbeck.
What writing projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a novel set here in Berkeley. I’ve never written fiction before, and it’s challenging but a lot of fun.
Check out Runway: Confessions of a not-so super model, Meghan Ward’s memoir about her time as a model in Paris.