Many thanks to the amazing Karen Stefano, author of The Secret Games of Words and a forthcoming memoir, Vigilance, for inviting Nancy and me to take part in her wonderful podcast series. Here, we talked about all things flash fiction, about our flash fiction retreats, and did a “mini workshop” of our own flash stories. Have a listen!
Nancy and I are so excited that the wonderful April Bradley will be joining us for Rendezvous in the Rockies this August in Breckenridge, Colorado! Here, April chats with me about her writing life and her story, “Little Wake,” which is my personal favorite.
You’re coming to Breckenridge in the summer for our retreat. What has been your writing workshop/retreat experience in the past? How do you find ways to honor your writing in your day to day life?
Along with several workshops with Kathy Fish and thematic ones on the craft of flash and revision offered by Nancy Stohlman, I’ve taken two hybrid writing workshops, one each with Robert Vaughan over at Word Tango and Jonathan Cardew with Bending Genres. I took a workshop on Surreal Flash from Meg Pokrass as well.
I met Kathy while taking Hannah Tinti’s fantastic workshop over at One Story. Last summer I began my MFA program and had my first academic fiction workshop at the Sewanee School of Letters with Jamie Quatro.
I read like a lunatic regardless if I am actively writing. I love the idea of honoring one’s writing. That’s so much better than feeling guilty about not writing.
Respond to this quote by Dani Shapiro:
“Writing saved my life. Writing has been my window — flung wide open to this magnificent, chaotic existence — my way of interpreting everything within my grasp. Writing has extended that grasp by pushing me beyond comfort, beyond safety, past my self-perceived limits. It has softened my heart and hardened my intellect. It has been a privilege. It has whipped my ass. It has burned into me a valuable clarity. It has made me think about suffering, randomness, good will, luck, memory responsibility, and kindness, on a daily basis — whether I feel like it or not. It has insisted that I grow up. That I evolve. It has pushed me to get better, to be better. It is my disease and my cure. It has allowed me not only to withstand the losses in my life but to alter those losses — to chip away at my own bewilderment until I find the pattern in it.”
This is such a wonderful expression of what writing can do for the life and mind of writer, and some of it articulates my own experience. I did not start writing fiction until I was in my 40s and found different ways of attaining and experiencing what she describes, mostly through my own graduate work in philosophy and theology and though my experiences in motherhood. Creative writing, however, pushed me in ways I’ve never imagined. I’ve cried, walked away from a story, swearing I was done with it, only to sit down and work with it more. Writing has been that only thing as Shapiro writes, “…has allowed me not only to withstand the losses in my life but to alter those losses…” Writing has revealed things to me about human nature I didn’t expect. It has revealed things about my own life and past I did not recall. Writing is closely related to reading and to other writers. Writing and reading opens up new worlds for me, allows me to me to express more fully the different aspects of myself but when it reaches others, and when readers tell me something I’ve written takes on meaning for them, there is the gift.
What is your favorite story that you yourself have written (“favorite” doesn’t have to mean “best” or more successful or whatever). And why is it your favorite?
My favorite is “Little Wake.” CHEAP POP published it last year, and I was thrilled. I managed to convey a moment in time and expand it to something so much more and capture the emotion I felt in that moment, that sense of magic, bittersweet loss, love, even a childhood fascination and an adult crush. I can still hear the frogs croaking along to Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da when I think about that story. Got lucky on that one.
Tell us something we don’t know about you that you are happy to share. : )
I meet people I know in unexpected, surprising places like in Venice or New York, in airports, concerts, interviews, courtrooms, emergency rooms. Neat things like that happen to me, and I love it.
Love that! And thanks so much, April. See you in Breckenridge in August!
April Bradley is from Tennessee and lives with her family outside New Haven, Connecticut. Her short fiction has been recently nominated for The Pushcart Prize as well as The Best of Small Fictions. Her writing has appeared in CHEAP POP, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Narratively, NANO Fiction, and Smokelong Quarterly’s “Why Flash Fiction” Series, among others. She has a Master’s in Ethics from Yale Divinity School and is an MFA candidate at the Sewanee School of Letters.