Wordsmith Interview – Anne Anthony

wsAge: Yes.

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Education:

NYU – BA in English

UMAB – MSW in Community Organizing

CMU – MA in Professional Writing

The Writer

Do you write full-time?
I write full-time, still developing my writing style, but I love reading anything written by Shirley Jackson or Alice Munro. The fiction of Nathan Poole, a South Carolina writer, takes my breath away.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
My greatest challenge as a writer is refueling my tank. I sometimes forget to stop working, and make time for fun. Note to self: play more.

The Work

Every Star Has A Story in Crack the Spine.
A girl goes on her first date with her crush, an older boy in her neighborhood, and finds out how little they have in common, setting off her journey of self discovery. People find out who they are and who they aren’t when they interact with others. Pay attention.

Anything else you’d like to share about your work in Crack the Spine?
The 1965 Falcon I mention in the story was actually my mother’s car, not my brother’s. My Dad liked to buy old clunkers. It was the first car I ever drove. My friends and I liked to drive places, like the wooded grove mentioned in the story, and then sit on the top of the hood to talk. (Please don’t tell my mother.)

What inspired this work?
In January 2015, I attended a Flash Fiction workshop led by Ron Jackson, a Durham County writer. I left that session excited to try my hand at writing flash fiction. At the same time, I’d been receiving writing prompts in a daily email from Peggy Tabor Millin. One of her prompts ‘Every Star Has A Story,’ inspired me to write my story using the prompt as its title. (Anyone looking for inspiration should sign up for her newsletter!)

How long did it take you to complete this piece?
I wrote the first draft pretty quickly, drawing from memories of being a shy girl and having secret crushes. Revising first drafts is always the hard part for me, peeling away words, rejiggering sentences for stronger emotional effect and adding more visceral details to the scene.

Tell us about another project you’re working on.
Firewords Quarterly recently accepted another flash fiction story, Much Better, for Issue #6 which is slated for an October 2016 release. The main character in my story questions her self-worth as a girl in a family of boys, especially after overhearing her mother tell her father that ‘boys are much easier.’

What inspired this work?
Did I mention growing up with four brothers? So much to write, so little time.

The Methods

What time of day or night makes you most productive as a writer?
I write every day after my husband leaves for work at 7:30. I work best in the morning, sometimes forget to eat breakfast, and sometimes lunch. It’s my dog Luke who reminds me to look up from my laptop; he’s a good sort, likes to take me for walks a few times a day to get some fresh air, and clear my head.

Where do you write?
I should write in my office upstairs, but my dog is older, and can’t climb the step so I’ll sit at my dining room table or on the sofa in my sunroom. I am surprised whenever I look up and see a couple of deer staring at me through the window.

How many drafts do you generally go through before you consider a piece to be complete?
For shorter pieces, I usually write 8 – 12 revisions before considering it finished. Revisions for longer pieces could run over 20.

How do you react to editorial rejections of your work?
I’ve got to say that in the beginning those rejection emails bothered me. ‘What, again?’ But, after reading through several, I noticed that a few said kind things, and others encouraged me to submit again. It never occurred to me, until I checked with another writer, that there were tiers of rejection. Knowing that encouraged me. If your readers are interested, there’s a rejection wiki out there that gives examples of rejection letters from literary journals.

What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?
Writing is lonely business. I read an article about women on the West Coast who would bring their laptops into a bar to submit their stories together. I held my own submission party, inspired by that article. We shared advice, information about open submissions, encouraged each other and got to know more about what everyone’s writing. I’ll be presenting a salon-style workshop about how to host Submission Parties during the International Women’s Writers Guild’s Summer Conference in July 2016.

The Madness

Who is your favorite author?
Alice Munro

What is your favorite word?
Logophile. Used it as a title for a short story once.

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Amy Poehler. She’s just the right balance of goofy and serious.

What’s in that cup on your desk?
Not saying.

Rain or Sunshine?
Rain, if I can write wearing pajamas all day.

Cats or Dogs?
Ca…Dogs, definitely. Wait, Luke stop typing that.

Pen or Pencil?
Pencil. I might change my mind. It happens.

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