I grew up in an Air Force family, moving seven times in my first thirteen years. I attended the University of Florida (BS journalism, MA English, MEd education) and taught at Gainesville High for four years before attending a seminary near Boston. I subsequently lost my faith and began writing creatively. My stories have appeared in the Tampa Review, Mad Hatter’s Review, Eunoia Review, flashquake,.Vestal Review, and Kennesaw Review. My novel Wire Mother Monkey Baby comes out in November from outpost19, a small, independent publisher in San Francisco.
From our brief conversation I find a thread of similarity in that as a writer you want attention, but “not too much attention.” This is something I find many writers share in common. Maybe it’s related to the exhibitionist/introvert impulse, a pull both ways that creates creative tension perhaps. Can you speak to this?
Having my work recognized is attention enough for me. It’s too tempting for writers to want the limelight on themselves rather than the work. Our celebrity-oriented culture is all too willing to provide it. The ideas for my novels came to me in dreams, and much of my other work is influenced by things outside of conscious control. It would feel dishonest to take too much credit. I mostly sublimate my exhibitionist leanings into my writing, mostly through humor – though occasionally a manic side sneaks out in real life.
Do you set goals for yourself as a writer? If so, what kinds of goals?
My only goal is try to write every day. I’m not very good at keeping it. Still, I find that if
my writing time has been productive, being away from it for a few days is often productive, too. That deeper place where a story originates has had time to ruminate, and it weighs in. I end up having a better sense of where the story is going, what it’s about, or an answer to a specific problem I didn’t have before.
Is writing for you a solitary process? Again, the writers I know who are also extraverts struggle with the solitary aspect, yet are driven to write, which is by nature, solitary. Are you as comfortable in your writing space as you are reading in public? Do you feel the same person writes who also reads in public? If not, please elaborate on any persona you feel you have had to evolve as a writer.
The act of living feels like a solitary process to me. I’m an introvert, probably even more anti-social and reclusive than most. I don’t work a real job, so I struggle to find meaningful time around people. I go to cafes to write in order not to overdo the isolation. I’ve only read in public a couple of times, but that will change when my novel comes out. I’m hoping to channel my Inner Clown, my more extroverted side, and bring to life some of the humor that comes out in my writing.
Where, if anywhere, do you see the role of spirituality in your writing today? I understand you were religious at one point in your life. How has spiritual progression/transformation affected your work as a writer?
I’m attempting to convey something more spiritual in the novel I’m writing now. There’s a lot of anger in my first novel. It holds a mirror to some disconcerting trends in our society, courtesy of advanced technology and an increasingly unfettered capitalism. My new work reflects my advancing age, and distance from a disillusioning experience at an Evangelical seminary. I try to show an individual who, although flawed and suffering, manages to find purpose and meaning by tapping into something higher. It’s more hopeful.