Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
 print preview

Lining My Nest

When it comes to inspiration for a story, I’m a bit of a magpie. I feel like I’m always drawn to the object or person out of place, the strange fact that delights me. I line my nest with them, and it’s often a few years later that the right tone or sentence comes to me and I run from there. Ten years ago I lived in Buenos Aires and took a trip through Patagonia, where I visited towns founded by Welsh settlers. One minute I was on a bus looking out at the brutal landscape, admiring the vicuñas, and the next I was pouring tea from a teapot encased in a pink crocheted cozy. It was very surreal and stuck with me. Then during one day of freewriting, out popped my confident, and melancholy, Welsh prostitute.

As for my actual process, I tend to write too little in first drafts, and I spend my revisions deepening characters, adding scenes, sort of embroidering what’s already there and trying to make it textured. Of course, some drafts go in the wrong direction initially, some have to be totally overhauled, but I find my best stories are the ones where in the first draft I find a voice I love. If I have a compelling voice to guide me (and coffee and chocolate), I usually get there in the end, wherever “there” is. I suppose I want my stories to reflect, in some way, the wonder I feel in the face of the world, even as the world does its best to be unwonderful. The feeling of wonder is, in a way, a replacement for epiphany in a story, a moment to rest and feel refreshed, even as nothing is resolved.  

return to top