Volatile Daydreaming: A Chat with Chris Bowen

Kathy Fish and I are thrilled that Chris Bowen will be joining us in August for our first flash fiction retreat! This will be Chris’ second time coming to Colorado; I hosted him at The Fbomb Flash Fiction Festive in 2016.  Chris agreed to chat with me beforehand about writing and playing and daydreaming…


Nancy: The biggest challenge most writers (that I know) have is finding the time to write amidst the daily demands of life. How do you “retreat” in your day-to-day life in order to honor your creativity?

Chris: I’ve honestly found it kinda difficult lately, Nancy. There are a number of tools I sometimes use, however, like meditation. Things like modern and eclectic folk music playlists, audiobooks, or inspirational movie or lecture tracks that I carry on my phone and play at home and in the car, often repeating them. This is meant to relax. Long drives in the car have the same effect. I’m able to reflect on how I consider my life to be in those moments. These are the things that carry me away where I can creatively think about my future in a positive light.

Nancy: What piece of your own writing are you most proud of?  Where can we read it?

Chris: Probably the one I’m most proud of as a whole, at least right now, is the novella I wrote a few years ago, When I Return to You I Will Be Unfed, that can be found on my author blog or Goodreads. It was my second book and even though my first, a chapbook of flash, worked really well with theme and mood, I still find myself rereading the novella the way I do other authors, poets, or books from time to time.

A close second is the short, “The Farmers of Shangri-La”, which was picked up at Stirring a long time ago and also ran in an interview I did with Gay Degani. It talks about rural Midwestern life and family.

Nancy: You are also a professional chef (and will be feeding us during our Breckenridge retreat)! What’s it like to be a chef? Does your work in the kitchen ever spill over onto the page or are they separate endeavors?

Chris: Being a chef can be intense, no matter what kind of kitchen you’re in. My physician father sometimes compares it to being in an emergency room with how I’ve described my workdays.

I was lucky enough to sign on with a major national food service corporation in the last couple years. The income and consistency of my employer’s expectations were a relief of stress in many ways, but have also brought on a new level of commitment I’m not quite sure I’m comfortable with yet. I believe my writing is the opposite of these things. It’s unexpected, surprising, volatile to me. It can come at any time and it can be whatever it wants to be. I sometimes wonder if the kitchen is really where I’m meant to be for the majority of my life when I catch myself daydreaming like that.

Nancy: React to this quote by Carl Jung– “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.”

Chris: That reminds me of a non-fiction book I read once about comedy as survival and play ethic. I think the root of the book was the endurance of being light-hearted throughout life. I think spontaneity, being adventurous and curious are all parts of a well-lived life and having that is extremely important to me as a person.

Nancy: Tell us something we don’t know about you?

Chris: I once read Dr. Seuss at a literary reading.

Nancy: Anything else you want to add?

Chris: I’m honored to be a part of the retreat, Nancy. I really am. I often cook, serve and feed people that I don’t know, people whom I’m not sure make an impact or sometimes are even grateful themselves for the laboring. A chance to do this for you and Kathy, for other writers, gives me meaning in that work.

chris 2Christopher Bowen is the author of the chapbook We Were Giants, the novella When I Return to You, I Will Be Unfed, and the non-fiction, Debt.  He’s an acting intern for Sundress Publication’s CookBook and has traveled and spoken throughout the U.S.






Three Questions for Anne Weisgerber

Nancy and I are excited that Anne Weisgerber will be joining us at our upcoming flash fiction retreat in Breckenridge in August and for Create in Costa Rica in 2019. I invited Anne to share a little bit about herself and her writing…

Kathy: Welcome, Anne! Can you talk a little about how do you make time for your writing when not on retreat? I know you’re a busy person. In what ways do you “retreat” in your day to day life in order to honor your creativity?

Anne: My office is an ongoing battle. If I have company, I use the “laundry basket method” and put everything that’s out in the open that shouldn’t be in laundry baskets and dump those in my office and close the door. Then I wonder 3 days later where the electric bill is and why I can’t get to my desk. But I’m getting better at it. I like my office. It’s dim and peaceful and has nice artwork and all the books I want at my fingertips right within reach and a window that looks over the goat pen. Like most writers who have full-time day jobs, writing happens either early in the morning (sometimes I’ll pick a week and get up at 4:30 am to put time in before my 7am workday begins) or in the evenings. I consider reading and participating in workshops with other writers to be important writing time, too. I’m currently in a workshop that Skypes for 2 hours every Wednesday night, and I have to say I love that. That’s with Richard Thomas, and he’s such a positive force.

Kathy: What is your all-time favorite flash fiction of your own and why is it your favorite?

Anne: Oh gosh. I feel writing is like most artistic endeavors: one’s next story should be the best story. A writer should never rest. The old leaves, the old pages, keep maturing and falling and new buds have to keep flowering. A popular story, which has been reprinted a few times, is “Upfurler.” I’d like to be remembered for it, my 9/11 story. It began in a class with Lisa Reardon, who provided a good prompt: Reverse a law of physics. I knew right away what law I wanted to reverse and why. After Lisa provided feedback, I workshopped it with my regular weekly crew, then went on to really hammer at it with a super-fave editor, Randall Brown. He helped me compress the science section. Randall’s such a gift. He’s amazing. “Upfurler” was originally published in Australia by Matt Potter, in a print anthology called “Pure Slush Five.” It was reprinted in the UK at the 2016 National Flash Fiction Day Flash Flood, and then here in the US at the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. It is a finalist for Best Small Fictions 2016. It’s also one of three stories I have memorized for public readings. My mind never gets tired of climbing through it, like those perimeter steel box columns in what was once an architectural marvel.

Click HERE to read “Upfurler” at the Flash Flood blog.

Kathy: Something we probably don’t know about you…?

Anne: Well, I like to keep it private, but here’s a good one: I had a friend Ray, and he and I hosted a Friday night radio show called “Fashion Blitz.” That was like 1983 or 4. He went by the name Paul Monroe, and I was Wendy Trendy. Hah hah I can Lene Lovich “New Toy” hurtling back from the past!

Kathy: All of this is fascinating, Anne! Thank you. Looking forward to “retreating” with you in August!

Note: Our Breckenridge retreat is sold out, but if you’d like more information about Create in Costa Rica, click HERE!

A.E. Weisgerber is Poetry Out Loud’s 2017 Frost Place Scholar, and a 2014 Kent State University Reynolds Fellow. Her writing appears in SmokeLong Quarterly, DIAGRAM, Heavy Feather Review, Structo UK, and the Zoetrope Cafe Story Machine. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and sons. [] [@aeweisgerber]


Nancy Stohlman, Writing Prompts & Craft Articles

The Importance of Creative Play



Creative Playcation: Hitting the Reset Button

True creativity begins as play.  And what is play but unstructured time where we allow our intuition to lead us to our joy? If we are writers, writing brings us joy. But too often in our modern world the joy of what we love is relegated  to “later” and play becomes a wistful luxury.

But if we are creatives, play is not a luxury but a necessity.

As artists, we understand that sometimes “writing” looks like walking, singing, staring at nothing, pages of journaling that “don’t count”, and most importantly lots of unscheduled time, hours that allow you to silence the usual demanding voices and get in touch with your true creative self. And while we may know that we need this (just like we may know that we should juice every day and do yoga), we rarely give ourselves what we–and more importantly our work—really need, taking care of everyone else first and our creative child last.

Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up.”

A retreat is just one way to hit that reset button, giving yourself the gift of possibility and a fresh start so that you can bring your best, most imaginative, most original self to your work. So if you have always thought that a retreat was an indulgence you could not afford, maybe it’s time to ask yourself: what is it costing you NOT to?


Thinking about joining us in Costa Rica? More info