We are so excited to get to work with Ruth Ann Clark this June in the gorgeous French countryside! We chatted a bit here about finishing, flash novellas, and of course: France!
Nancy: The biggest challenge most writers have is finding the time to write. How do you “retreat” in your day-to-day life in order to honor your creativity?
Ruth Ann: I’ve been an earlier riser all my life, and I don’t require much sleep. Regardless of the day of the week, I’m awake and up by 5 a.m. I write for two hours. As I’m recently retired, I now write from 5 a.m. to late morning. I’ve found I’m pretty useless after 2 p.m. Definitely an early morning person.
Tell us about your relationship with flash fiction?
I’m a novice. I became aware of flash fiction at a writers’ retreat at Interlochen (Michigan) last year. Although the retreat focused on the novel, several participants had written and published flash fiction. The form piqued my curiosity. I’ve read Brevity-A Flash Fiction Handbook, FLASH! Writing the Very Short Story, and Fish Anthologies 2019. I regularly review online sites to read submissions (mastersreview.com, lost-balloon.com, kenyonreview.org, mslexia.co.uk.)
What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
Two pieces of advice:
I’ve been advised to stay vigilant about overdoing descriptions. Easier said than done, but when I’m mindful of it, my writing improves.
An equally important piece of advice: read the writing aloud.
Yes! The reading aloud is key. What piece of your own writing are you most proud of? Where can we read it (if it’s available)?
I’m not a published writer. I have been working on a novella (off and on) for ten years. It’s finally finished, at least I think a phase of it is. I’ve probably edited it more times than I’m comfortable admitting, but I’ve drawn the proverbial line in the sand: I’m on the last edit before passing it along to an editor/mentor in May.
Congratulations! So, have you ever been to France before? What are you most looking forward to?
I’ve never been to France. I’m looking forward to everything! I’m excited about meeting other writers, seeing the countryside, visiting museums in Paris and, of course, experiencing the food and wine!
Oh yes! Respond to this quote by French writer Emile Zola: “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work.”
Well, I’m not sure I’m an artist or that I have a gift. I’d say I have a passion. As for the work, I’m very disciplined. Working and reworking my writing has never been a problem. At the moment, the work I’m working on is to put my writing out there for criticism.
I think it’s all about the passion, truthfully. So…tell us something we don’t know about you?
Last summer I enjoyed a walking tour of Scotland. Slangevar!
Wow–I’ve never been to Scotland but it’s on my list! Anything else you want to add?
I recently acquired a small painting of a summer cottage (6” x 6”, acrylic and pencil). I asked the artist to describe the techniques she used to create it. The image itself and her description have inspired me to perhaps use them in my next writing adventure. I’m in the very early stages of possibility. I’m considering a flash fiction novella where each section begins with a different character or situation while each is informed by the same place. However, I haven’t ruled out the possibility of a longer form. To help with my thinking, I’m reading My Very End of the Universe: Five Novellas in Flash and a Study of the Form.
I love this idea, and I think I might be able to help with that in France (wink!) Thanks so much for chatting with today, Ruth Ann!
Ruth Ann Clark was born in Massachusetts, and up until twenty years ago, she lived on Cape Ann. The good people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts refer to Cape Ann (located 35 miles north of Boston) as the Other Cape and Cape Cod as The Cape. Clark moved to Michigan in 2000 to be closer to her sister and her family. She still pines for the ocean, which means that she visits the Other Cape at least once a year. Clark has worked in human resources communications, regulatory affairs, and most recently fundraising. In 2018, she retired as a research analyst at Wayne State University in Detroit. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. In August she will rent a little cottage in Rockport, MA on the Other Cape.
FYI: Our French Connection Retreat is sold out but we still have spaces for our High Altitude Inspiration in August.