A lot changed in 2016. Trump was elected; Vinson Cunningham became a staff writer at the New Yorker. But will his approach to writing change? “I hope it doesn’t,” he says. “I just want to get better at writing—at thinking hard and being honest. That’s the only response to the times that makes sense to me.” (Snaps-n-claps!) Vinson writes about lots of stuff, but it loosely narrows down to Obama (Vinson worked in his White House as a staff assistant) sports (“The Knicks Throw Up Another Airball”) and music (“How Kirk Franklin Is Pushing the Boundaries of Gospel). It’s all methodical, sweet, and very sincere, and it doesn’t seem like a stretch to describe Vinson the same way.
What is your writing process like? What does a day look like? A week? I’ve been writing full-time for a little less than a year, so I’m still figuring out how best to use my time. I try to get going in the morning, and to dedicate the afternoon to reading or listening to music.
How will your approach to writing change this year, if at all? I hope it doesn’t. I just want to get better at writing—at thinking hard and being honest. That’s the only response to the times that makes sense to me.
What aspect of your job do you find the most fulfilling? The most challenging? Everything’s a challenge for me—I find writing very difficult, and when it seems fun in the normal sense, I’m usually doing something wrong. Fulfilling is when the day’s over and I know I’ve done my work. Publication feels good too: you can’t really call writing done until somebody’s reading it.
In the future, what do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field? I’m fairly new to writing as a business, but I’ve been very grateful this past year to have The New Yorker as a home. When people at parties ask what I write about, I usually just sort of shrug—the fact is that I’ve been free to follow my interests, annoyances, whims, whatever. As long as that’s still possible, I’ll be happy.
Are you working on a new book or a larger project you’d like to share? I’m nudging along a few ideas, inch by inch. They’re mostly kicking my ass.