Interviews

Author Jayne Martin on Fear & Self-Sabotage

Nancy and I were so thrilled when the lovely, funny, and talented Jayne Martin, who’d participated in our debut retreat last summer in Breckenridge, signed on again for our upcoming Springtime in Italy Retreat in Casperia. We’d interviewed Jayne before and thought this time we’d do something a little different, so we asked her to share some of her writerly wisdom with us here on the blog. Thanks so much, Jayne!

 

Let’s Talk About Fear

I haven’t been sleeping well. So last night I put an Advil PM on the bathroom counter to take just before going to bed. And I had a great night’s sleep.

Today I noticed that blue pill still sitting right where I’d put it. Never took the goddamn thing. But I believed I did and so my body acted accordingly. We create our reality according to our beliefs, which is great when those beliefs support our best interests. Not so great when they sabotage us.

Lately, I’ve been in a writing funk. Old demons long thought to be banished have arisen. In my case they’re saying, “You’re not good enough, so we’re going to keep you from embarrassing yourself by giving you a shitload of excuses to not write.”

You might know this particular demon. Or maybe you have one of your very own telling you:

“You can’t achieve your goals because your success will take time away from your family.”

“Other people get all the breaks. The odds are stacked against you, so why even try.”

“Look at all that competition! Damn! There’s not enough success, abundance (fill in the blank) to go around.”

Or the ever-popular, “You’re a complete fraud and you’re going to be found out.” Yeah, I got that one, too.

Recently, I called out another writer on what I saw as her bullshit excuses. I should know better. Not because of the obvious — I had no right to judge her — but because the Universe immediately held up a gigantic mirror and said “Judge not lest ye be judged, bitch.” And so I not only owe that other writer an apology, I owe her a big thank you and probably an expensive bottle of wine because now I’ve been forced to look at my own crippling crap.

I haven’t written a thing I’m proud of in months. The last two workshops I took I expected to choke and what do you know? Choke, I did!

The thing about these sabotaging beliefs is they lurk in the deepest crevices of our minds and then run our lives like little tyrants. We don’t even know they are there until what we don’t want keeps showing up in our lives instead of what we do want. “WHY THE FUCK DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO ME?!”

I’m not a religious person, but a good quote is a good quote:  “As you believe, so it shall be unto you” – Jesus Christ (before we made him a Superstar).

Today I was given three opportunities from the Universe to turn around my fears. The first, as mentioned, was the direction to look at my own sabotaging beliefs before I judged others. The second was an invitation from Kathy and Nancy to write this post to which my immediate reaction was, “Oh shit! What am I going to write about?” The third was the loving outreach from a dear writer friend encouraging me to take an upcoming workshop.

Our demons are constantly testing our vigilance. So, I’m going to take that workshop with expectations of only fun and joy, and that is the experience I’m going to create.

Jayne Martin is a 2017 Pushcart nominee, 2016 winner of Vestal Review’s VERA award, and a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee. Her work has appeared in Literary Orphans, Spelk, Crack the Spine, Midwestern Gothic, MoonPark Review, Blink-Ink, Cabinet of Heed, Connotation Press and Hippocampus among others. She lives in California where she drinks copious amounts of fine wine and rides horses, though not at the same time. Find her on Twitter @Jayne_Martin.

NOTE: Our Springtime in Italy Retreat is now full, but openings remain for High Altitude Inspiration: Four Days in the Clouds in Grand Lake, Colorado (this August) and we’ve just opened registrations for our return to Costa Rica for Writing Wild in 2020! Join us!

 

Interviews

The Fellowship of Other Creatives: Onward to Italy with Beth Gilstrap

Nancy and I are so looking happy that Beth Gilstrap will be joining us in Casperia for our Springtime in Italy Retreat this May! Beth generously took some time to chat with me. 

 Hi Beth! First, will this be your first visit to Italy? 

 This will be my first trip to Italy. I’ve been to Turkey, Czech Republic, Hungary, England, Scotland, Canada, and Mexico but never Italy. I am so excited as it’s a long time dream to visit.

 What are you most hoping for, for the retreat this May? 

 Travel and getting out of my comfort zone are always great for generating new material. I hope to focus on starting a new collection and building relationships with fellow writers. I live in Charlotte, NC, which though it has its perks, isn’t a great city for writers. Anytime I can take a break and bond with my people, I find it helps me make it through the rest of my time spent in a banking town.

 We’re gathered at Palazzo Forani, a bunch of writers from all over the world, communing over pasta and freshly baked bread and local wine…who is your dream guest or dream ghost that’s there with us?  

Oh goodness. Aside from an Italian grandma who I’d beg to adopt me and teach me her ways, I’d have to say Anthony Bourdain if we’re talking ghost. And if we’re talking guest, Samin Nosrat of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. I’m obsessed with words and food and would follow those two anywhere though I doubt they’d want me as a sidekick since I’ve been vegetarian most of my life.

 Ah, great choices. What fun Anthony Bourdain would be. I’m sort of obsessed with Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat too! Switching gears now, I’m interested to know what’s your favorite story, poem, essay, flash, that you’ve written and why?

I still love this old one about the kind of fellowship you only find amongst other creatives. It’s calledSpaghettification.” I love to read this one because the rhythm becomes almost feverish.

Beth, this is gorgeous. I love this:   

Now…can you tell us something about you that’s wonderful, weird, unique, funny, endearing…whatever? 

One time I volunteered for a local cat shelter. I bottle fed some orphaned kittens and wound up keeping them. I have four cats and two dogs and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aw, I love it. It says a lot about you, Beth. We’re so looking forward to seeing you in Italy this May. Thanks for chatting with me!

Beth Gilstrap is the author of I Am Barbarella: Stories (2015) from Twelve Winters Press and No Man’s Wild Laura (2016) from Hyacinth Girl Press. She serves as Fiction Editor at Little Fiction | Big Truths and a reader at Creative Nonfiction.Her work has been selected as Longform.org’s Fiction Pick of the Week and recently selected by Dan Chaon for inclusion in the Best Microfiction Anthology. Her work has appeared in Ninth Letter, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, The Minnesota Review, Hot Metal Bridge, and Little Patuxent Review, among others.

Note: Our “Springtime in Italy” Retreat is sold out, but we’re taking registrations for our Flash Fiction Summer Camp in Grand Lake, CO this August and have just opened registrations for Writing Wild in Costa Rica in March, 2020! We’d love for you to join us!

Interviews

Of Communion and Co-Creation in the Rockies: A Conversation with Kristinha M. Anding

Nancy and I are very excited that Kristinha M. Anding will be joining us for our Grand Lake “Flash Fiction Summer Camp” in August. Kristinha is a fascinating person and I very much enjoyed our chat.

Hi Kristinha! First, have you been to Colorado before? 

I did a wilderness vigil last year in Colorado. I spent four days and four nights alone on a mountain, fasting and leaning into the slow, resilient conversation of stone and pine and sky. I came away feeling humble and heartbreakingly welcomed.

Wow, that sounds amazing and so beautifully put. And what do you most look forward to at our retreat at Shadowcliff Lodge?

I am eager to listen to the work of others and co-create the shelter of a temporary human writing community, informed and supported by the larger ecological community of the Rockies.

Yes. I love the sorts of connections that are forged in this way, too. It’s one of our “missions” for these retreats actually.

So in your reading life, what sort of stories so you find yourself drawn to?

I love stories that involve mythic sensibilities and seem to emerge from the deep-time dreaming of the land, stories where you can feel the pulse of what Clarissa Pinkola Estés calls el rio abajo rio, the river beneath the river. Terry Tempest Williams, Jay Griffiths and Sylvia Lindsteadt are a few of my favorite writers. As we are in dire times climate-wise, I find myself increasingly drawn to works of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry that touch ecological themes in some way.

What is your favorite story of your own?

I write a lot and had a past life as a journalist, but admittedly stink at submitting my creative work. Here is something I did manage to get published:

http://unbrokenjournal.com/2018/04/deer-crossing/

Oh wow, I’m so struck by the rush of feeling in this piece. So beautiful and haunting:

“It doesn’t make sense Renee and I said barely meeting one another’s eyes and the couple behind us stopped now asking if we needed help telling us they had seen you too without them I wouldn’t have known this was real their witness the only thing keeping me from believing you had been a ghost at the edge of the road staring me in the eye before choosing collision teaching me something I have barely begun to hear leaving me holding nothing and everything.”

Thanks for sharing that, Kristinha. Is there something about you that you’d like to share that is surprising/funny/endearing/strange whatever? 

I don’t know why, but this completely random tidbit comes to mind: I used to have an unusually deep belly button. How deep, you ask? Well, there is a cave in Ireland called Oweynagat, whose engulfing maw is said to be a portal to the Otherworld. About that deep. Removing lint felt like an archeological dig. That deep. I held a severe interiority.

But that changed after my pregnancy with my second son, who extruded my abdomen and then emerged from me, 10 pounds of raw, reaching human. As my postpartum body settled into its new shape, I realized with a shock that my hallowed umbilical cave was gone. My child and this tectonic shift of motherhood had erupted me into an “outie.” (I think I’m still adjusting to that.)

Ha, I love it! Can’t wait to meet you in person in Grand Lake, Kristinha. Thanks so much for sharing!

Note: A few spaces remain for “Flash Fiction Summer Camp” in Grand Lake in August. More information HERE. 

Interviews, Uncategorized

Truth in Art: A Chat with Jeffrey Spahr-Summers

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Kathy Fish and I are thrilled that Jeffrey Spahr-Summers is going to be joining us in Colorado this August for our Flash Fiction Summer Camp in the Rockies! I chat with Jeffrey a bit about his process, his writing, and his advice for writers, and the meaning of “truth” in art.

Nancy Stohlman: 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?

Jeffrey Spahr-Summers: I’m an undisciplined writer. I do most of my writing in bits and pieces on the run. Poetry and flash fiction suit me in that respect. I find that I am more disciplined with photography.

NS: Tell us about your relationship to flash fiction?

JSS: I have written poetry for over 40 years. About four or five years ago I started writing short memoir stories, once there I turned to flash fiction. I am still experimenting and learning the craft.

NS: What piece of your own writing are you most proud of? Where could we read it (if it’s available)?

JSS: My favorite is a poem called, “Talk About my Girl’, which can be found in my book, ‘Until Their Bellies Bulge and Shine’. It was also printed in a literature magazine called, ‘Hammers’, in the early 1990’s. The poem can also be found on my website.

NS: You have published several books–what have you learned from that process?

JSS: Proofreading. Proofreading. Proofreading. Writing the book is only the beginning of the work. Books seem to grow along with you.

NS: You live in Colorado already–have you been to Grand Lake before? What are you most looking forward to at our writerly summer camp?

JSS: I haven’t been to Grand Lake since I was a child. I’m looking forward to the retreat to nature and the opportunity to interact with other writers.

NS: React to this quote by Gustave Flaubert: “Of all lies, art is the least untrue.” What do you think about the “truth” of art?

JSS: I think the truth in art lies in what compels us to create art in the first place, or to create certain pieces, as it were.

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

JSS: I have moved 44 times, between 24 cities or towns, in my life.

NS: Anything else you want to add?

JSS: I am grateful to be participating in this retreat.

 Jeffrey Spahr-Summers is a poet, writer, photographer, digital artist, publisher, and editor living in Boulder, Colorado.

Websitejeffreyspahrsummers.com

Interviews

Meet Jason Lee Norman: Canadian!

Jason 11Nancy and I are excited that writer, editor, and publisher Jason Lee Norman will be joining us for Rendezvous in the Rockies, our 2nd Colorado retreat. Jason recently took the time to have a quick chat with me.

KF: Hi Jason! Have you visited Colorado before?

JLN: I have not been to Colorado before. Not even the airport. Never had a Denver omelet.

KF: You are in for a treat. And Denver omelets are great! Tell me, what do you most look forward to at our retreat at Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge?

JLN: I’m really looking forward to meeting you and Nancy and learning from you both. It will be an honor. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken time away to devote to my own writing so doing so at this beautiful spot in the mountains will be time well spent I’m sure.

KF: It’s a lovely place to rest and commune with nature and hopefully get a lot of writing done. So, as a reader, what sorts of stories do you find yourself drawn to?

JLN: I’m really loving flash fiction right now. I love these stories that can be so brief and pack such a punch. Generally I love stories that try a lot of the things that is attempted in flash fiction. Usually it’s just a unusual premise that the writer has to keep upright as long as possible like a surfer riding an enormous wave.

KF: That’s a perfect comparison. I love that. And what is one favorite story of your own?

JLN: What a question! I have a soft spot for a few stories for sure. One that I haven’t checked in on in awhile is called Beautiful Girls. I sent it to PANK and they published it online forever ago. Even in 2011 I knew that it meant a lot to get a compliment on your story from Roxane Gay. It’s sustained me for nearly a decade now. I can’t believe it was that long ago. I’ve written good stories since then. I promise!

KF: Terrific story. No wonder Roxane snapped it up. That’s definitely something to feel good about. Is there something about you that you’d like to share that is surprising/funny/endearing/strange whatever? 

JLN: Well I haven’t told anybody this one thing about me in a long time but I’m Canadian, eh?

KF: Wow, that’s the weirdest answer we’ve ever gotten to that question!

Thanks so much, Jason! See you this August in Grand Lake!

 Jason Lee Norman publishes Monto Books and edits Funicular Magazine. He writes and eats in Edmonton, Canada. 

 

Note: Spaces still remain for Rendezvous in the Rockies, Part II! Join us!