Many thanks to fellow Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA) alum, friend, and fabulous writer Kaye Linden for including me in The Writing Process Blog Tour. You can read her responses to the same questions I answer below here.
Kaye has an MFA in fiction from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, is past short fiction editor and editor with the Bacopa Literary Review, teacher of short fiction at Santa Fe College, current assistant editor for Soundings Review and medical editor for “epresent learning lecture reviews.” Kaye’s first short story collection TALES FROM MA’S WATERING HOLE is available where all books are sold. Kaye is completing her second short story collection SHE WEARS HOT PINK JEANS and is currently writing the second sci fi novel in the Prasanga series. Visit her at her website and her blog.
What am I working on?
I’m writing a book-length memoir about friendship, illness, parenthood, loss, and triathlons. It’s called GUTS. I also write short personal essays. I like to use the essays as a chance to explore topics not covered in the book, as well as taking the opportunity to try out different forms and types of essays. I just wrote my first nature essay, a fun challenge for me. It was a finalist for Oregon Quarterly’s Northwest Perspectives contest, which served as a good lesson that it’s important to take breaks from a long project to work on shorter pieces.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
This is a hard question to answer, since memoir is such a diverse genre. One thing that distinguishes my work is that I often write about more than one topic, both in short and long form. Another aspect of my writing that readers often comment on is how I write about illness with a sense of humor and in a way that makes my experiences accessible.
Why do I write what I do?
I write nonfiction as a way of making sense of my experiences. I write to connect with others. I heard David Sedaris say something at a reading once that has really stuck with me. I am sure I am botching it in the paraphrasing, but he talked about how we are as readers. When we are kids, he said, we need our books to be mirrors, identifying only with characters whose lives are a close imitation of our own. As adults, though, we find those mirrors in all kinds of characters and all types of stories. That is my aspiration as a writer: to provide that mirror to a reader, the comfort and catharsis that I get from writing.
How does my writing process work?
Thanks to a very supportive husband, I have a pretty luxurious writing life for an unemployed person with 2 young kids. I write on the 4 days of the week that both of my kids are in school/preschool. I am unable to write in my house, so most of my writing is done in an office space I rent above a store that sells local art, much of it made on site. I love my tiny office with its view of trees through the doorway, a bookshelf crammed with poetry and writing craft books, and no dirty dishes or laundry. I am slowly converting myself to a morning writer out of necessity, and I do my best to keep my mornings free of appointments and stay offline until after I’ve finished writing for the day. I create the occasional writing retreat for myself, sometimes even setting aside “retreat” days in town when it’s all my schedule allows.
My writing progresses by carrying over some of the practices started in graduate school. I exchange work with other writer friends and revise after getting their feedback. I also continue to set deadlines for myself. I read a lot in all different genres, and continue to take classes and attend conferences. Finally, I continue to be active in my writing communities, and NILA, here in Seattle, and by connecting with writers around the country. Solitude is something I may seek as a writer when I have been at it longer. For now, my community of writers and non-writers is an essential part of my writing process.
The Writing Process Blog Tour continues next week with 2 more fabulous NILA writer friends.
Iris Graville’s profiles and personal essays have been published in national and regional journals and magazines, She is the publisher for Shark Reef literary magazine, and the nonfiction editor for Soundings Review. She’s a student in the MFA program at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. She’s the author of the award-winning Hands at Work—Portraits and Profiles of People Who Work with Their Hands. She is writing a memoir, Hiking Naked—A Quaker Woman’s Search for Balance, a personal narrative about what she learned while living in the remote mountain village of Stehekin, WA. You can read her thoughts on writing and spiritual matters on her blog.
Sandra Sarr has an MFA in creative writing from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. She has 20 years of experience as a national magazine editor, writer, book publisher, and college communications director and has won numerous awards from national and regional organizations for her articles, magazines, and publications. Founder of the Story Catching Program with Franciscan Hospice in Tacoma, Washington, Sandy has found great satisfaction in writing the core life stories of people who are dying.You can read about the making of her first novel THE ROAD TO INDIGO, on her blog.