Waterline Writers

Oct 132017
 

Especially since I’ve been a parent, witnessing innocence lost is hard for me.  So much of this loss is tied to small acts of relational or emotional violence, and so much just seems to be where our human natures want to take us.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I was a science major for the first few years as an undergrad. I found that I was very much *not* enjoying my organic chemistry class, but really loving writing papers for my English class. One of my English professors encouraged me to forget my dreams of being a physician and instead become a writer– which I did, despite my father’s conniptions.  While I may have missed my chance at ever driving a Mercedes, or settling my aging parents in the Keys, I’ve been happily strapped, well-read, and hyper-reflective ever since.

Describe your writing process.

If I’m to get anything done it’s early morning before anyone else in my household wakes up.  I’m also very good at working in tight time spaces when they present themselves.  I’m not a planner–I just get a gut need to put something down on paper and usually get it all out in one or two sittings.  I don’t tend to do significant revisions afterwards.  Just endless tweaks.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

Especially since I’ve been a parent, witnessing innocence lost is hard for me.  So much of this loss is tied to small acts of relational or emotional violence, and so much just seems to be where our human natures want to take us.  It’s heartbreaking as a parent to see these losses, and almost as heartbreaking to think about our own.  It seems to be an endless progression, so the material never stops.

What are you working on now?

For the most part I’ve been spending what free time I have developing a brand of infant nursery care products, which hasn’t left me with much time to write recently.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

I recently read the novel In the Shadow of the Banyan Tree by Vaddey Ratner.  I’m a huge fan of literary historical fiction, and Ratner’s novel taught me quite a bit about Pol Pot’s regime and the Cambodian genocide based on the author’s semi-fictionalized account of her family’s experiences.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

Probably John Ashbery

Oct 122017
 

Horses’ gentle but powerful, and seemingly inexplicable, healing influence on humans thrills me. I can’t imagine anything more satisfying than writing on—sharing—a topic that feels almost magical yet is so real.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

As early as I can remember, I was one of those kids with a flashlight under my pillow, writing stories or poems instead of sleeping. My 7th grade English teacher wanted to publish a poem I wrote about Dr. Zhivago’s ice palace. I declined; I disagreed with the two revisions he wanted me to make. Thankfully I grew out of that idea!!

Describe your writing process.

In the past several years, I’ve found I’m nearly always writing in my head—at concerts, doing dishes, on the bus, in bed (still)—and scribbling it somewhere, but mostly I write at the dining table starting during breakfast. I’m afraid I’m a binge sort. I really dislike to stop and start, so love creating long stretches so I can get right into it—hours or days at a time. I’m not sure if what I do is considered outlining per se: I start out just going for it, jot notes of who might do what and when, to get a feel for overall balance, then that suggests new ideas so I change it all, let it happen, and rarely check my early notes. With My View of the Bright Moon I wrote the entire first and penultimate chapters before anything else.

I love fiction you learn something from and authors whose research you can trust. So I spent a lot of time on my own accuracy—from portraying the progress of Alzheimer’s, to the anatomy of horses, to when the spring peeper frogs chorus in Ludington, MI. When writing’s tough for any reason, doing research means the project still progresses.  It helps get past a block and inspires.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

The wisdom and beauty and strength of horses. Years ago in New Zealand I was utterly charmed by researching, then experiencing, then training in equine-assisted therapy. Horses’ gentle but powerful, and seemingly inexplicable, healing influence on humans thrills me. I can’t imagine anything more satisfying than writing on—sharing—a topic that feels almost magical yet is so real. And actually changes lives and outlooks; it’s found in 50 countries and there are versions of it specifically serving veterans and military families.

Growing up with four brothers, seeing how often they struggled to deal with painful issues and relationships, I wanted this story to have a male focus, to possibly reach men—even if it’s initially via female readers. Thus, the fictional brothers, Kyle and Joe, who Waterline listeners will meet on Sunday night.

What are you working on now?

I have two very different novels roughly drafted. ‘What if … ‘ can be described as magical realism in which the Universe very temporarily and very individually offers Earth’s  inhabitants (focused on two best friends in particular) a chance to see the role of gratitude in their lives. The other, ‘Water,’ is the story of the sole survivor of a tragedy who develops a debilitating phobia, what she learns from those who work to bring her back from the trauma, and the ripple effect of that new knowledge.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

I can’t name the very excellent A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole) because I’m still reading it. So I have to name a tie: The language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh) for mixing a heartbreaking story with breathtaking innocence; and The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise (Julia Stuart) for her word choices, quirky characters, and somehow making it both poignant and hilarious.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

Only one? John Steinbeck first came to mind, but I’d be so intimidated, I’d hide in the kitchen. So I’d ask Barbara Kingsolver to discuss anything she’s ever written or Vicki Constantine Croke because I’ll never forget Elephant Company.

Oct 112017
 

I think writing just evolved from being a visual artist. I began using words in paintings then books as sculptures and eventually words as poems.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I think writing just evolved from being a visual artist. I began using words in paintings then books as sculptures and eventually words as poems. In the beginning, poems were coming to me either when I was trying to sleep just before waking. I never studied writing so I am still learning by reading, listening and writing. I am fairly new to writing since I started when my children were in high school, college and married. I am still discovering.

Describe your writing process.

I write whenever or wherever I can on any scrap of paper I find if I don’t have my notebook. Much of my writing is done in the car while my husband drives, in waiting rooms or while the TV is on. I do not outline. For me, the poem would lose a lot if I did. I often ask questions in my poems. Sometimes in life, there are no answers. I think all forms of art should in some way cause a person to think. I try to do that.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

Perhaps not specific to each poem, but overall, much of my work is about memories from my childhood. Some is inspired by nature and placing oneself in the position of another creature. Also, many of my poems are about grief, loss and the different ways in which we cope with them.

What are you working on now?

I am putting together a small book of feminist poems and plan to get back to a novel I started. Also, I am always writing more poems and experimenting with new ideas and styles.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

I would have trouble choosing just one. Annie Dillard and Maya Angelou, very different personalities, but we could have really interesting conversations.

Oct 102017
 

…but I saw how the poems moved people who read them, especially cute girls. When I discovered that I could affect other people with my writing, I knew I was a writer.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I didn’t know I was interested in poetry until I started experimenting with writing it in high school. I always had a novel in hand, but I discovered poetry anthologies that were aimed at high school students when I started working in my high school library. The books had a lot of contemporary poems and I was hooked. I tried writing some myself and they weren’t great, but I saw how the poems moved people who read them, especially cute girls. When I discovered that I could affect other people with my writing, I knew I was a writer.

Describe your writing process.

I’ve never figured out the magic formula. I use a lot of writing prompts, and I sometimes take creative writing classes. I am in a local writing group with some talented, supportive, and kind poets. All of these things help keep my brain focused on writing.

I don’t write on a regular basis, but when I am working on a few poems, I add lines to notes in my phone or scraps of paper until I get a first draft. After that, I start revising them until they are done or I put them away so I can get some distance, and eventually, clarity. Feedback from my writing group and other readers, as well as reactions from audiences at open mics or other venues help me to sharpen the poems as well.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

The poems were all written in the last few years, and most of them are semi-autobiographical.

What are you working on now?

I’m interested in writing a series of poems about lesser known historical events and people. I just have to find some that capture my interest.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

I have a rotating list of favorite poets, but I don’t know if I can pinpoint one recent poem. Some of my favorite poets include Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, Ted Kooser, Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, Gary Soto, Kim Addonizio, and many others.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

I am always impressed with writers like Stephen King or Billy Collins. They are both best selling, accomplished writers in their own right who are undervalued by the larger literary community. I would love to pick both of their brains about writing. Besides, I think either would be a  funny, interesting dinner guest who would have tons of great stories and jokes to share.

Oct 092017
 

I have recently started to write with pen and paper, as opposed to composing on a computer. I do little research and never outline. I simply ask myself, “What is it that needs to be said in this moment.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

When I was applying to business school many years ago, I wrote the application essays with a depth and passion I had not sensed in myself prior to that. When I gave the essays to two English teachers for editing, I expected them to tear the essays apart. They were, instead, very complimentary. That was the first time I understood what writing might become for me.

Describe your writing process.

If a writer is someone who simply must write, I am not a writer. Instead, there are times when an idea or topic occurs to me and I feel the urge to get that idea, topic or question on paper. I have recently started to write with pen and paper, as opposed to composing on a computer. I do little research and never outline. I simply ask myself, “What is it that needs to be said in this moment.”

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I am reading from my book “Questions That Matter.” I love questions because they open us to new ideas, rather than leading us down paths we have often traveled with results we already know. I am intrigued by questions that nudge me into the unknown.

What are you working on now?

I continue to be haunted by ideas about the future of the species in relation to the biosphere. I am not a futurist, but I have tried many times to try to explain what I see. So far, I have not had much success.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

I do not read much fiction, but my daughter, an educator in Washington DC, challenged me to read “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. I found it to be very powerful.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

Dee Hock, who wrote “Birth of the Chaordic Age,” is one of the most deeply philosophical people I have ever met. He writes with great clarity and wisdom.

Oct 052017
 

 

Authors Eric Bodwell, Roger Breisch, Laura Henrikson, Cathy Kern and Eileen Kimbrough will be featured atthe next Waterline Writers event on Sunday, October 15th at 7 pm. Roger Breisch reads two deep-dive essays from Questions That Matter, which will be available for purchase; Eric Bodwell, Laura Henrikson and Eileen Kimbrough take the tough topics we all tackle and treat them to the poet’s unflinching touch; and a chapter from Cathy Kern’s My View of the Bright Moon will further illuminate the evening.

Admission is $5/$3 students. You’ll have the opportunity to purchase an author’s book, beer from Solemn Oath Brewery, wine from Bright Angel Wine, a hand-tooled pen from Wooden Writers or a hand-constructed book from Tieri Ton. We also offer food from The Market at Gaetano’s and desserts from Limestone Coffee & Tea!

Everyone is welcome! Writers may bring a 5-minute piece to share at our 8:30 Open Mic or visit Waterline Writers.org and follow the Submission Guidelines to be considered as a future featured writer. Waterline Writers, 3rd Sundays at 7 pm, September to May, in the art gallery at Water Street Studios 160 S. Water Street, Batavia IL. Find us on Facebook or Twitter. Contact us at waterlinewriters@gmail.com.