Likely Red Press published “Squint” earlier this year. Our Patrons on Patreon get access to some interviews and content early.
“The writing process is difficult. I doubt any writer that says otherwise. Fortunately, the threshold is pretty high to getting myself to set down and actually write, but once I do I can’t make myself get up until I’ve got a piece, or the bones of one, out on the page. Completely.”
Interview With Elise Wallace
Through our emails discussing “Squint”, I labeled it as fiction until you corrected my mistake and told me it was creative nonfiction. Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share with us on the gray area between fiction and creative nonfiction?
Creative non fiction is a desire to uncover truths about the human existence through the lens of our own (the author’s) experiences. Fiction has the expressive freedom to craft a story that also uncovers truths about our existence, but through narrative that is not beholden to a single person. Fiction can access a collective experience and multiplicitous memory.
Creative Non-Fiction connects readers to individual and very personal experience.
“Squint” seems to play with the theme of perspective. Ws that something that grew out of the piece or something you started with in mind for it?
Perspective and how that changes over time and through conversation is definitely something that I had in mind from the beginning. The relationship in the piece had ended more than a year ago the day I wrote the piece.
The piece was written in about two hours. I edited for almost a year, but the final version is much closer to the original draft than anything I tweaked in between.
Often, since I write about my own life experiences, it takes months and years before I can get a perspective on an event, relationship or emotion that allows me to put it into a cohesive expression.
The finality of the letter in “Squint” makes me think of the struggle between “draft” and “final”, and how the weight of words change between drafts and the final piece. How has the writing process been for you?
Unintentionally, my previous answer is a perfect flow into this one. The writing process is difficult. I doubt any writer that says otherwise. Fortunately, the threshold is pretty high to getting myself to set down and actually write, but once I do I can’t make myself get up until I’ve got a piece, or the bones of one, out on the page. Completely.
I am very wary of the editing process. I find that my editing, if I let it drag too long, just ends up circling back to the original draft — or the final version ends up being much closer to the first draft than any of the versions in between.
When it comes to editing, the only thing I am concerned with is *feedback*. I am most concerned that the nugget of intention in my piece is communicated. All else is up to the reader, the listener and their interpretations — which I never attempt to control or manipulate. Feedback often leads to editing. My editing is a rearrangement of sections and addition of words so that the spirit of the piece is better communicated and more strongly received.
Are you a coffee shop/restaurant/public writer kind of person, or a stay-at-home-and-write kind of person?
I am a sit at home kind of writer. I think this has more to do with my town of residence than my actual practice. I cannot write in a coffee shop because I will inevitably see someone I know and engage in a conversation that while I enjoy it, takes me away from my writing. I love writing in coffee shops when I’m visiting other places.
For the most part, I write at home. I write best in the morning, when I have nothing else planned for the entire day.
If readers of Likely Red had to go read one other literary journal or lit mag after reading this interview, what should it be?
Parabola, and Popshot Magazine.
Do you have a favorite story that hasn’t found a home yet?
Nothing that’s in a final version. I do have a piece that parallels the functions of computer hardware memory and the layers of memory in my hometown of 20+years. That’s the next piece that will need a home.
Read anything lately that really influenced you?
Right now I’m reading Don Delillo’s Underworld. His rich prose and repudiation of anything you learned in an English classroom really inspires me to write in a tone and style that is true to me.
What’s next for Elise Wallace?
Right now I am hiking the Appalachian Trail and collecting recorded stories and conversations for my project The Ones Who Walk (www.theoneswhowalk.com). After I finish this journey I’ll return home and focus on the next iteration of this project and getting more pieces published.
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