Asking a writer to talk about the process of her own writing is like asking someone about her sex life. It’s slightly embarrassing, because it is so intimate, and frankly, this writer would rather do the deed than talk about it. But I don’t mind telling you what I write about.
In broad-brush terms, I have written about alcohol and drug addiction, and more importantly, recovery and the influence of 12 step programs, incest, racial and religious tolerance, abortion, and war. My short stories often deal with some sort of loss. Not much fun, you say, but it can be.
We are talking passion here, folks, and motivation. I hope I’ve fleshed all this out in a readable body of work and even dressed it in a little poetic writing, accessorized with bits of humor and perhaps a gem or two.
Janet Taliaferro: Novelist, Poet, Short Story Writer & Activist
I spent the first fifty years of my life trying not to be a writer and the next twenty-five trying to get published. My reluctance probably was prompted by my mother saying to me when I was fourteen, “You ought to stop all that other stuff and just write.” So I didn’t.
It’s not that my words did not appear in those first years. There were articles for Campaigns and Elections, since I was deep into trying to get Democrats elected to public office, a few op-ed articles for the local liberal newspaper, and half a dozen scripts for children’s shows produced by educational television. Perhaps if fate had been of another mind, I would have heard about the luncheon in Washington before it happened instead of a week later; it was the one at which the “lady from Baltimore” was asking for help starting something called the Children’s Television Workshop. Oh, well.
Somewhere between running the family business and volunteering with Planned Parenthood, I decided to get a degree in creative writing, where I had a taste of what the blurbs call “Award Winning Writer”! Armed with this piece of paper, I went off to sell short stories to magazines when they were still actually publishing fiction. Ending eighteenth out of thousands in the Redbook contest, I caught the eye of a fiction editor. I had a story accepted, but it was pulled by the senior editor. I wrote and rewrote a Christmas story for Redbook that finally was rejected as “too dark” and it’s sad to see that the magazine eventually abandoned fiction all together.
Then came the first novel, A Sky for Arcadia. Agents read and rejected. Editors did the same. Eight years later in 2002, I wrote and published a print-on-demand novel and submitted it to the Oklahoma Center for the Book. I came away as a fiction finalist and it even sold relatively well without any real advertising. In the meantime, I wrote two more novels, a memoir, two collections of short stories, a book of poetry and a poetry chapbook. My rejection file grows monthly, but I also have a nice group of small magazines on the shelf that include my work and a growing number of print and digital publications.