THE WOODSHOP: Max Vande Vaarst

Vande Vaarst WoodshopCutBank continues its online feature, The Woodshop, with this submission from Max Vande Vaarst. Review our submission guidelines here, then submit your own Woodshop to And don't forget - print submissions are open as well! Review submission guidelines and submit your best work to our print edition and contests


Where do you do your work?

Home is where the heart is! Unfortunately, home is also where the TV is, and the Xbox, and the junk food, and a kitchen full of busy work, so it’s hard for home to be where the writing is too. I handle my business best in quiet public spaces – places free of background chatter and piped-in muzak, places where I can be left alone for hours with no one looking to take my order or refill my chai. I’ve worked in laundromats, city parks, hotel lobbies and gym locker rooms. Libraries are totally where the action is though.

What do you keep on your desk?

My workspace isn’t a desk but a backpack, one that goes everywhere I do. Contents include: binder of notes, Macbook Air, four books for school, one book for me, power cord, headphones, pack of gum, car keys. The desk I keep at home mostly functions as a bookshelf spillover zone.

What’s your view like?

My current base of operations is the central library of the University of Wyoming. I work on a sofa in this beautiful wood-walled reading room, looking out on the snowy campus. I get a sufficient peripheral view of the busy undergrads milling through the nearby stacks to stave off cabin fever, but I’m also at a far enough remove to avoid distraction. That cabin fever thing is real, by the way. Sitting down to write is such a massively lonely act in its own right, I’d hate to compound it with any sort of true physical isolation.

What do you eat/drink while you work?

Nothing during the writing process itself, but if I’m going for an all-day library death march I try to keep myself fresh by taking a quick bike ride over to Jimmy John’s and fueling up on Turkey Tom. Jimmy John’s is the best major sandwich chain in America. Step at me repping Quiznos if you want to throw down.

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

Everything’s shit until you read it out loud.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

“It’s a Saturday morning and you’re lingering around the curb outside the Family Discount like a fart in a car seat when Patrick Appleby comes walking by, says they’ve let your cousin Chicago out of prison.”


Max Vande Vaarst is a maybe possibly someday up-and-coming writer of imaginative fiction and the founder of the online arts journal Buffalo Almanack. Max’s work has been featured in such publications as A cappella Zoo, JMWW and Jersey Devil Press. He received his B.A. in History and English from Purdue University. He currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming and is pursuing an M.A. in American Studies from the University of Wyoming. Max can be found online at