Join the Wranglers in welcoming my friend Gail Kittleson to the corral today. She has interesting new answers to my same old questions!
When did you know you were a writer? Or do you know it even now? (Sometimes I have doubts about myself.)
Does knowing I was SUPPOSED TO BE a writer count? I’ve known that since I was a kid. As a young adult, I hid what I wrote, coming out once in a while to have a poem published in a magazine.
Now that I’ve learned about the writing personality, I sure wish I’d known about it earlier. Several phases of my life would have been happier with that understanding. But oh well—live and learn.
Is there anything you with you’d done but feel it’s too late for now? (I wish I’d learned to snow ski, but now I’m afraid to break bones.)
If I could do it over, I’d get a Ph.D in socio-linguistics. As it is, I have an MA in teaching English as a second language, but the intricacies of language learning, especially in babies/toddlers is such a miracle. I’d like to study it in much more depth.
Your fan-girl chance here—who’s the author you absolutely know would leave you speechless and quaking if you actually got to meet her? (Or him—I’m not sexist. Not really.)
This has to be C.S. Lewis. I’d be so awe struck, I don’t know that I’d survive meeting him face-to-face. Probably have a breakdown. For sure, every logical thought would leave my head.
To think of all the stories he wrote, the broad influence of his works and life, all the research and thinking he did to pull it all together—it’s mind boggling! Right behind my laptop on my desk is an “Aslan painting”—that tenacious face and those tawny eyes remind me to keep at my goals.
I don’t know how much you’ve traveled, but is there anywhere you’d like to go but haven’t yet?
We lived in France for a while back in the 80’s, but I’d love to go again, to follow the trails of the Resistance fighters, since I’ve researched some of their incredible feats. To be right there in the Auvergne, where they sabotaged, fought, and sometimes died, would be so inspirational.
My husband and I are planning this kind of trip—I hope it comes to fruition. And then there’s northern France, where so many met such vicious deaths in the Great War. I think that ground would feel holy. And then there’s England . . . endless WWII stories still coming from there. And Nova Scotia, and Alaska, and . . .
Do you have a writing process? My friend Kristi always asks this one, and I love the answers!
I suppose I do. Keep in mind that until about 2008, I had no idea I could, or even wanted to write fiction. Poetry was my big interest. So I was pretty surprised when the first story came into my head. That happened after leading a few groups through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, which I highly recommend.
That’s still how it starts—the idea, and mine usually revolve around a character, not a plot.
From there, I write like crazy, just to get it all down, and then comes a ton of editing. I haven’t analyzed that portion of the process, except to say that it keeps changing as my skills increase, because I learn new points of focus.
What poet(ess) has influenced your writing?
Without a doubt, Emily Dickinson. Her writing taught me about unique twists and about the amazing power inherent in each solitary word. She’s all about plotting, though in a very confined space. If a writer wishes to streamline their words, Emily’s the best instructor I know.
And Robert Frost—his story-poems feature enduring characters—people that stick in your mind and almost haunt you. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting another WONDERFUL poet, a hidden-away fellow who discovered poetry well into his eighties.
Reading his work strips one down to life’s essentials. His name is Killian McDowell, and he writes from St. John’s University in Minnesota.
I discovered The Wind in the Willows—not the movie, mind you, the book—as an adult, and re-read it every once in a while. Should be read aloud to every child, more than once. Some days I’m Moley, sometimes I’m Ratty, and the descriptions in that book are pure poetry.
Imho, the discipline required of writers crosses genre lines—we can all learn from each other, and the more we read of various types of literature, the stronger our skills will become. I used poet here, but we might as easily ask what classic literature has influenced us. I don’t hear this talked about much among modern fiction writers, but the topic could enrich whatever we produce.
A boomer Iowa farm girl always intrigued by the written word, Gail graduated from
Previously, she instructed expository writing at Eastern Oregon University and North Iowa Area Community College, and English as a Second Language in various venues. She also created resources for caregivers and facilitated grief and loss workshops for Hospice/Parish Nurses.
But it took decades to grow into the self-confidence necessary to become an author. WhiteFire Publishing released her redemptive memoir, Catching Up With Daylight (e-book) in August. The print version will be available in November.
Another nonfiction describing the parallels between the challenges of women in transition and the survival strategies of desert life is ready for submission, along with several Women’s Fiction sagas—ready, that is, until the next revision!
You can find Gail at her website: http://www.gailkittleson.com, on Facebook and LinkedIn.