I started writing in sixth grade because I liked books, honestly. There isn’t anything deeper to it than that. I quit for a while and dabbled in singing/songwriting, realized I wasn’t that great at either portion, and that the world needs less mopey teenagers with acoustic guitars. Around this time I was taking a creative writing class with a teacher named April Lawrence and realized I was a lot more adept at writing short stories than I was songs. So I shifted focus.
As for why I write now, it’s nothing deeper than finding veiled ways of dealing with struggle and emotions, whatever they might be. When I wrote “Christopher Sloce Has a Cold,” I was dealing with a pretty deep depression. I thought my head was going to explode. And I was slowly starting to get some small recognition, nothing huge, but encouragement for my writing. So I realized I was developing into a public persona and a persona I had by myself, and I hated that. I did what most sane people do, and that’s write a short story where the journalistic Christopher Sloce, who is a pretty stereotypical writer, meets the public Christopher Sloce, who is alienated from everyone around him because he’s a jerk.
That’s the most primal example, and the most naked I’ve ever been in a short story. But at the same time, there’s always some abstraction in there somewhere. Mainly because my life doesn’t interest me, but the reactions I have to things are a different story.
I feel like my writing is gut-level. I write for the reader’s gut and emotions and heart first of all. I don’t care about the reader’s head that much, but if it hits as very cerebral, that’s good too. My writing is regional, and I like to think there’s a running continuity in anything I write set in Wise County. Wise County’s my big central obsession.
To put it as far as what authors made me want to do what, Flannery O’Connor made me want to write short stories, David Milch made me want to write scripts, Tennessee Williams plays, and Cormac McCarthy made me want to write novels. Faulkner made me take up writing again in general. I don’t just read southern gothic though. I love noir. I love Joan Didion. Chris Onstad, the cartoonist who wrote Achewood; he was big for me. Mrs. Dalloway was big. Wonder Boys. Infinite Jest. Hunter S. Thompson. John Cheever. Barry Hannah and Daniel Woodrell too.
I’m going to maybe write a play about stand-ups because I’m funnier than most people think I am. Besides that, I’m working on a novella about the cousin James M. Cain and Nabokov avoid at the family reunion. And I’m writing a mess of short stories.
The James River Writer’s Writing Show series will be presenting A Writer’s Platform: Marketing at Every Stage of Your Career, on Thursday, June 27, at the Camel. Featured authors include Karen Chase, Deb Dudley, and Meg Medina. The event will be held from 6:30-8:30 and is $5 at the door for students.
Found out my alma mater’s poetry journal is publishing one of my poems! Thank you, Poictesme! And yes, I linked to your Tumblr instead of your actual website. Becuase, duh.
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“Understanding the social, economic, and environmental challenges we face as local and global communities, my artistic practice focuses on current sustainability issues. A heightened awareness is given to the viewer on subjects such as waste, pollution, over population, water use, and possible solutions to address them. Embodying change, my work encompasses low impact methods of creating through homemade vegetable pigments, up-cycled papermaking, found materials, etching, photography and documentary video.”
Melissa Rae Lesh, Painting and Printmaking
“With each image I create, I strive to trap the viewer in my image as they become consumed by the beauty and emotions within.I appreciate all aspects of photography, whether it be pictures I have composed exactly as I imagined or I just happened to be with a camera in the right place at the right time.”
“Lately my work has become more and more abstract. With my paintings, I’ve been less concerned about being aesthetically pleasing and focused more on the content, process, and medium instead. Overall, I aim to always show a sense of movement and growth in my pieces and find a balance between planning out a piece and allowing room for happy accidents.”