Interview: Composition of a Woman by Christine Ray

 

You started you journey in the past two years. In that time you have made enormous strides as a writer and a publisher. Is there validation in getting a book to press?

My life has changed a great deal in the last two years, hasn’t it? I knew nothing about blogging when I started Brave and Reckless, let alone publishing. It has been quite an education as I have learned how to negotiate the blogging world and then the world of small press publishing. I think my writing has improved dramatically over the last two years as I have found my voice and been exposed to some really incredible writing. Joining Sudden Denouement has really challenged me to refine my writing and take more risks.

If someone had told me two years ago that I would be publishing my first book of poetry this month, I would have laughed at the idea. Even a year ago I would have scoffed at the idea- I was still too new and too raw a writer. The idea that getting a book to press was an actual possibility grew very slowly. Even in early 2018 I was really struggling with the questions of “Is this the right time?” and “Is my writing really good enough to warrant a standalone book?”

Many steps along this journey have been incredibly validating. Winning the Sudden Denouement Writing Contest, having Brave and Reckless designated a Discover Blog by the WordPress editors, getting published in a e-Zine for the first time, getting published in Nicholas Gagnier’s Swear To Me, editing Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective have all validated my sense that this is what I am meant to be doing. I can’t tell you how tickled I am that I have a Goodreads Author page and an Amazon author page! It’s crazy. Publishing Composition of a Woman is both validating and surreal, exciting and a little terrifying.

My experience tells me that a great deal of writers stop within a year. What suggestion would you give to new writers about seeing their dreams through?

Keep reading, keep writing, keep networking, give support to other writers as generously as you can, and find your tribe. What has happened in my writing life over the last two years is truly astonishing. But it wasn’t part of a master plan that I carefully developed. I just kept walking through the open doors when opportunity presented itself. And when there wasn’t an opportunity for something I believed in passionately, I asked myself if I could make it happen. Blood Into Ink, Go Dog Go Café, and Indie Blu(e) all grew out of that place.

At the core of your first book, what message do you want to articulate? What do you want the reader to take away from the book?

Writing is really my therapy, my diary, and my confessional. Composition of a Woman covers a wide range of themes: chronic illness, depression, love, loss, and identity. These are issues that many of us will wrestle with in our lifetimes. These pieces are both deeply personal and highly relatable. I want readers to feel less alone when they read Composition of a Woman. I want them to know I get it, that I’ve lived it. Perhaps I will be able to articulate their lived experience in a way they have never been able to.

You have done an amazing job communicating with other writers. How important is that your journey?

I didn’t start Brave and Reckless because of the writing community, but I have definitely stayed because of it. I honestly did not realize how much I needed those connections with other writers until I started to develop them. It was like some small, starved part of my soul woke up when I met other writers who create from some place that I do. I hadn’t written in 12 years when I started my blog. My family and many of my real-world friends had never seen this part of me before and many of them just didn’t know what to do with it! Some of them treat reading my writing like a guilty secret while others find my candor in my writing very unsettling.

In addition to it being deeply important to my emotional health, the power of networking has had a profound impact on my writing life. I was always the kid who hated group projects but I love to write collaboratively. I love the way synergy occurs between writers and how organically something amazing develops. I have started other blogs with writers I have met on WordPress that continue to grow and thrive. It is really an honor to work with other editors and writers who I know have my back and who know that I have theirs.

Sudden Denouement is truly my literary home and I have made deep soul-satisfying friendships there, but my writing circles continue to grow. I have finally started to connect with my local writer’s community and thanks to the incredibly generous and talented Alfa (Silent Squall), I have started to connect with a large group of passionate poets on Facebook and Instagram.

I benefit every day from the support, generosity, friendship, and creative inspiration offered by these writing communities. It is not unusual for me to have four chat windows open while I communicate with writers all over the world- they are my friends, my comrades-in-arms, and my support system. I often hear people complain on social media about how jealous and petty some writers can be. I have been blessed to meet and connect with a writing community that really supports, encourages, and lifts each other up.

S.K. Nicholas stated that it is important to write every day. How did you balance life and writing in a way that provided you the opportunity to make this book happen?

Oh, how I miss writing every day! I used to write every day. I believe that I should be writing every day. I used to get up at 4 am daily just to have two quiet hours to myself to write. I have really been struggling with balance the last seven months. Some days I manage Fibromyalgia and frequent migraine headaches and some days they manage me. I love all the projects I am involved with but my writing and maintenance of Brave and Reckless often get pushed to bottom of my to-do list because of other, more time-sensitive tasks. I had to be pretty ruthless some days and close my email, mute my phone, put on my headphones, and just ignore everything else so I could have a chunk of time to work on the book.

It took an enormous amount of time just to assemble everything I had written since October of 2016 (over 450 pieces!) and start rereading and sorting through the pieces, making decisions whether to include or discard writing, and then organize the original manuscript. There were days that piles of my writing were on every flat surface in my house. My family ate meals amid tentative book sections on more than one occasion. I worked on Composition of a Woman and its sister manuscript, The Myths of Girlhood for months while also working on the Sudden Denouement Anthology and Rachel Finch’s A Sparrow Stirs its Wings. Some days I never thought Composition would never be finished but, here we are!

You have been inspiration to so many. What advice do you have for the poets who have not found their voice, who are looking to become a writer of your caliber?

I still giggle when people say things like “a writer of your caliber.” I want to look around me to see who they are talking to, because they can’t possibly be talking about me!

It helped me to read good writing. Lots of it, as much as I had time for. Not just technically good writing but writing that impacted me—made me feel, made me think, challenged me. It was profound when I stopped worrying so much about pleasing an invisible audience and started writing for me. When I write poetry, it is a selfish act. I am writing what needs to get out, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. I need to express my truth. Truth isn’t always easy or pretty. It just needs to be authentic.

This sounds like a weird thing to say, but it really made a difference when I stopped thinking of myself as another middle-age woman who wrote some stuff and started thinking of myself as a writer. I had to take myself seriously and see it as part of my identity. It made it easier to justify carving out time for my writing and helped me see this as a marathon, not a sprint. The more you write, the better your writing gets.

Collaborate! It really encouraged me to up my writing game when I started writing with other people. At first I was really shy about asking people to write with me. I have gotten bolder and rarely has anyone say no.

I also took a college-level Creative Writing class that involved workshopping. It both helped reassure me that I had potential and also forced me to look more critically at my writing. I won’t say that it was always a good experience for my ego, but my writing voice evolved significantly during those 12 weeks. I left the class much more willing to take risks and much more confident. I also had a lot of fun! If you do not have easy access to a college writing program, there are lots of good online courses available, including many that are free.

Christine Ray is the author of the Composition of a Woman, as well as being managing editor of Sudden Denouement.

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Excerpt from Anthology Volume I: Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective- bow Wow/Georgia Park

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I want the TSA
to smash my dog’s
little safety box into bits
instead of just the disposable lock
made especially for smashing
after the thirteen hours she spent in it
n cargo far from my place in the cabin
and then after landing
I hear her cries, desperate
but I’m not be able to touch her
until we clear customs

I free her in Chicago
and dump her into the car
someone brings for us
painstakingly prearranged
I don’t count on the headache
the pressure the dog fur
out of reach

someone brings the car for us
to drive back in my homeland
after three years locked out of it
the chatter on the radio sounds foreign
American accented English
-it’s hard to listen-

Driving in America is different.
I bow to every driver who passes
like a good Korean
and then I start nodding…
it’s the 24 hour difference
I just can’t manage
my dog is alive
and I am so
bone tired….

Available at Amazon.com, Amazon Europe, Amazon Canada, Book Depository, and other major book retailers


Georgia writes for Sudden Denouement, Private Bad Thoughts, and is the creator of Whisper and the Roar: A Feminist Literary Collective.

Meet Sudden Denouement Collective Member Georgia Park

 

The editors of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective know that our strength is our writers. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them through our new Writer Interview Series.

What name do you write under?

Georgia Park

In what part of the world do you live?

I live in Salem, MA, USA. I lived in South Korea for several years and saved up enough money while I was there that I could have started a life anywhere. I considered moving to Germany or Chicago afterwards, but Salem is my Ithaca. It’s a small, touristy town on the ocean with a community of artists, which includes some of my greatest friends and worst enemies. I need the friends to inspire me and the enemies to keep my competitive edge.

It also has a lot of little pockets of nature for hiking, fantastic diners, is close to NYC, Boston, and Vermont, and not too far from Canada (just in case). Finally, there is a sufficient amount of Korean food to be had here. I love it.

Please tell us about yourself.
I am finishing a master’s in writing and will pursue an MFA or doctorate next. I am so proud to be a part of Sudden Denouement and Whisper and the Roar. With encouragement from the editors at both of these collectives, I have gone on to publish a book, Quit Your Job and Become a Poet (Out of Spite), and I continue keep up my poetry blog obsessively. I do fictional and non-fictional, funny, playful, dark, morbid, Trump related and non Trump related poems, with or without an emphasis on travel.
I work just over full time as a report editor and then edit some more for fun in between writing my thesis and reviewing books, so although I do have at least two books coming out, I’m not sure when I’ll find the time to write them. Hopefully soon.

Rave reviews:
“Park is a cabaret player for the page….Her poems are agile, improvisational, and pleasingly untidy.” -Zachary Bos, Pen and Anvil Press

“Georgia Park has a wonderful talent.” -Jasper Kerkau, Sudden Denouement

“Put on your seatbelts, because this poet has a tendency to take you places.”-Michelle La Poetica, Dencity

“Fresh, driven, surprising…” -J.D. Scrimgeour, Salem Writers

“…a natural voice. I feel the deep sense of loss, search, and emotion [in] ..the raw openness of your work.” -Jonathon Starke, Palooka

“[Georgia Park] carries complex emotion through swift, abrupt line breaks, creating a palpable and thoughtful sense of motion for the reader.” -Tethered by letters, F(r)iction

“…Shit.” -General murmur in the audience

“I will never eat spaghetti again.” -Unnamed slam poet

If you have a blog or website, please provide the name and the link.
Privatebadthoughts.com

When did you begin your blog/website, and what motivated you start it?
When I returned to America from South Korea, I suffered a bit of a nervous breakdown. I resurrected a blog I had when I was young after I had a falling out with the only person in town I knew, a local writer, who called me some very nasty names. I didn’t know anyone else and felt like I couldn’t join the local writing community after that, so I brought it to the web, where Jasper Kerkau (creator of Sudden Denouement) found me and left encouraging comments. I had a habit of deleting blogs and starting new ones under different names at the time, and Jasper always found me. It was his encouragement that first motivated me to continue on. He has been a huge support and inspiration, along with Christine Ray.

What inspires/motivates you to keep blogging on your site?
I’ve often said that my poetry is like piss, shit and vomit. It just keeps coming out. A more interesting question for me would be what inspires me to stop blogging on my site. Occasionally I get paranoid about who reads and privatize it or I’ll experience a lull. During the lulls in posting poetry on my blog, I am either reading or writing outside of poetry. Outside of poetry, I also write newspaper articles (not under my pseudonym) for the local paper, non-fiction, and fiction, which I tend not to post.

When did you join the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective?
A few months after coming home from Korea, in November of 2016.

Why/how did you join Sudden Denouement?
I eventually decided to research Jasper Kerkau, faithful commenter that he was, discovered Sudden Denouement, and asked to join. I felt completely alone before that. It really changed my life for the better in that I have found the courage to surrender to my dream and make writing my life, practical or not.

What does “Divergent Literature” mean to you?
Take a look at Sudden Denouement, and you’ll see it right away. The writers themselves are of all identities and walks of life, and their pieces are crafted with diverse techniques from wildly various subject matter.

I had a professor in college once assign us three poetry books, all by straight white males, all talking about their childhoods. With all the diversity that exists in the writing world, on all levels, I think that’s such a sin.

SD Founder Jasper Kerkau frequently talks about Sudden Denouement writers using the ‘secret language’. What is it?
Fdsk mone oi e.

What are your literary influences?
David Sedaris, Jack Keroauc (poetry), Jim Behrle, Laura Mullen, Jasper Kerkau, Christine Ray

Has any of your work been published in print? (books, literary magazines, etc.) How did that happen?
Yes, in the Sudden Denouement anthology, the Offbeat literary journal (I submitted through submittable), and Pen and Anvil Press made a bite-sized chapbook for me as well as included me in a bite sized breakfast themed chapbook. Pen and Anvil press accepted me because I went to a writer’s group in Boston and cried about how much I hate the writers in Salem and needed to show at least one of them how much better I was. In fact, most of my literary achievements have been born of spite or vengeance. Sudden Denouement and Whisper and the Roar are the only two that were born of love.
Speaking of which, I will also be featured in one of Sudden Denouement editor Nicholas Gagnier’s forthcoming anthologies, All the Lonely People.

I’ve also had a book published and wrote a couple articles for the local newspaper, if that counts.

Do you have writing goals? What are they?
I want to get into a fully funded MFA when I’m finished with my master’s, mostly because it will buy me more time to write. If that doesn’t happen, I may do some part time work for full time money overseas (I’m thinking teach college in China or Saudi Arabia). I really need more time to write.

I want to publish a second poetry book with Sudden Denouement. I want to be asked to do more readings. My third book will be nonfiction essays, ala David Sedaris. I am working on both now.

Which pieces of your own writing are your favorites? Please share a few links.
Crumpled Up Biographies
Late
I Just Got Back

What else would like to share about your writing, Sudden Denouement, or yourself?
The members of Sudden Denouement are not vicious or competitive, but completely supportive. This is a really special community that doesn’t exist in such a pure state elsewhere in the writing world. I am so proud to call the members of Sudden Denouement my friends. Together, we can take over the world.

Georgia Park Reviews I am a World of Uncertainties Disguised as a Girl by Nicole Lyons

Sudden Denouement’s own Georgia Park tells you why ‘I am a World of Uncertainties Disguised as a Girl’ should be in your library.

‘I am a World of Uncertainties Disguised as a Girl is available for purchase at  Amazon.com

Georgia’s book Quit Your Job and Become a Poet (Out of Spite) is available at Lulu in paperback and ebook format.

 

 

To-Do – Georgia Park

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To-Do – Georgia Park

Forget your insecurities about those scars, everything looks good in the dark.

Don’t hold your breath until you turn purple. Throwing fits like this can make your boyfriend feel blue. He doesn’t deserve to.

Don’t blush or show a red hot temper with acquaintances. They are probably not bad people and anyways, it’s not like they can eat you.

Eat more fruit! Buy strawberries and oranges. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can find a recipe for some sort of fruit stew. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

If an acquaintance turns out to be evil, it’s ok to be a little yellow bellied. Run for the hills! But before embracing cowardice, let them prove it to you. Forget your preconceptions.

Don’t eat sweets. Freak out and eat too many sweets. Turn green. Feel sick enough that you try to reverse time. Fail miserably.

Eat more veggies! Eggplants are nice and a very pleasant shade of nightblack purple, which is oddly reassuring.

[Georgia Park is the creator of Private Bad Thoughts, curator of Whisper and the Roar a feminist literary collective, and a writer for Sudden Denouement. She is a wonderful poet with an enormous heart. We can’t imagine this journey without her. Please check out more of her wonderful work.]

Faucet Clock – Georgia Park

It’s just easier sometimes
to say no hard feelings
than to point out the
disgusting oozing

To gesture wildly
at all the park benches we sat on,
the jovial conversations
the drunken escapades
(Oh, what was I thinking…)
the time, so hard won
for you to get,
so utterly wasted

The trust I was building
out of soluble materials
thoughts unspoken
feelings misspent
on some scapegoat or another
never the answer
and he never told me anything

In the sink, stupidly,
with thoughts so ridiculous,
so logicless such as
“so as not to make a mess!”
I built it
under a forever leaking faucet
sounding like a clock
tick tock
drip drop

Persistently becoming
the one thing you can rely on
I listen to my faucet clock
drip drop
tick tock
and this is how
I foster trust
I know it will never be fixed
so long as I’m in charge of it

It’s just easier sometimes
to say no hard feelings
than to cry out
“You’re a fraud!”
That way it’s all wrapped up
and I just think, anyways,
well, of course he was.

That was just as inevitable
as the next drip or tock
from my forever leaking
faucet clock

 


 

[Georgia Park is the creator of Private Bad Thoughts, curator of Whisper and the Roar a feminist literary collective, and a writer for Sudden Denouement. She is a wonderful poet with an enormous heart. We can’t imagine this journey without her. Please check out more of her wonderful work.]

A Note from Grendel’s Mother – Georgia Park

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i am ready for you to kick me out
im itching to hit the road
ill take my buddhist prayer beads
and my rawhide bones
ill take my stuffed animal carcasses
my dog who shits on the carpet
ill take all the men who visited
except one of them

because i just cant. i cant. i cant.
i cant do this

ill drink up all your liquor
ill wake up howling
my buddhist prayer beads
are made of animal skeletons
i think
though i was told
the bones are genuine human

i just cant do this.

i want my cave littered
i’ll keep the dead
we have a healthy relationship
i cant be trusted with the living
my own son and i
dont even speak the same language

i don’t much like talking.
and i cant.

i cant do this.
i cant do this. i cant do this again.

[Georgia Park is a brilliant poet, who possesses something very special. She was instrumental in the evolution of SD. We are honored to publish her work.]