TWD Magazine 4th Collection Interview: Phil Gallos — Fiction Contributor

The Wire's Dream Magazine Logo
As an extension of The Black Lion Journal’s mission, The Wire’s Dream is a semi-annual magazine that values community, life perspectives, and different worldviews. Contributors were asked to complete a set of mini interview questions with the purpose of sharing with the readers and their fellow submitters a bit about who they are and about their creativity. All questions were the same for each contributor; and each answer given is unique, open, friendly, and candid.

About The Creative Process

How do you make time for your creativity? Are you an early bird creative or a night owl? Or something in between?

My creativity management is minimal. I may be standing, writing at the kitchen counter while eating breakfast. I may be writing in bed before going to sleep. I may wake up in the middle of the night and jot some notes on the nearest piece of paper. I do try to set aside a few hours in the afternoon twice a week in a favorite café with a strong cup of tea and my writing materials (pen and notebook – I almost never compose on my laptop, and most revisions are done on print-outs). Working in an environment that has a fair amount of ambient activity actually helps me to focus. That does not mean that I don’t sometimes work in a quiet room at home or by the shore of a lake or on a mountaintop. I try to make room for the muse whenever she arrives, and then listen.

How much of your personal life and experiences shape who you are as a creative and as a person? Do you find that you draw much content from your experiences or have you worked to keep that separate from what you create?

All of it. Everything shapes who I am as a creative person. The creative process is a process of transformation. Personal transformation. So now I have to be a bit dogmatic. We are what we create. We are constantly re-creating ourselves. Whatever we call our art is but one manifestation of that process. You can’t say, “Oh, that is my imagination, and this is my experience.” Your imagination is your experience, as much as your breathing. Stop breathing, your body dies. Stop imagining, your soul dies. Any separation between content and experience is an illusion.

About Creative Moments & Inspiration

What is your most memorable creative moment, if any?

There have been so many memorable creative moments. The most recent was in June, 2016. I awoke from a dream and knew I had the crux of a story. I spent the entire day writing; and, when I wasn’t actually writing, I was thinking about what I was going to write. Everything else was pushed out of the way. I remember sitting at the counter of the Blue Moon Café eating lunch, a fork in one hand, my pen in the other, scrawling line after line in my notebook so fast that the words were barely legible, not even thinking anymore, the sentences moving directly from my hand to the paper, seemingly bypassing my brain. The first draft was completed before I went to bed sometime after midnight. Many revisions later, “Saffron Gold and Fire Engine Red” was accepted and will be published this summer in The MacGuffin.

Do you cross genres for inspiration? Which ones?
Ex: If you're a fiction writer, do you read and practice poetry? Do you also dabble in art?

Absolutely, but not in a premeditated way. I have been working in fine art photography for over forty years. A number of my short stories, one novella, and two novels (not all of these have been published), have had their genesis from or been informed by one or more of my photographs.

What/who inspires you the most?

On one level, the people I have known, the places I have been, an object like a singular black stone picked from a cobbly Maine beach – these inspire me to write, they populate my stories. But on a more foundational level, I am inspired by my wife, Sharon O’Brien, and my friend, the late Maurice Kenny, because they believe in my creative potential, because they want me to succeed – Sharon from the here and now, Maurice from the hereafter. Finally, I am inspired by good writing.

Are there any contemporary writers/artists that you admire and think should be on everyone’s radar?
(Who do you think has been undervalued?)

Frankly, there are not many contemporary writers that I can say I “admire.” There are those whose work I enjoy and whose voices influence my own, from time to time. I did admire poet Maurice Kenny, who died in 2016, because I knew him personally, knew his history and what he tried to accomplish, knew his struggle in his last years and his determination to keep writing, which he did nearly to the end, leaving several books in the publishing pipeline to add to the 29 already out there, and I knew his generosity with his time helping younger writers even as his days slipped away. Some will have the pleasure of reading his work. I had the privilege of reading him.

Tips For Others, Personal Goals

What tips would you give to those who have never published anything before?

Don’t give up. Talk to other writers who have been published. Don’t become so attached to what you’ve written that you are unwilling to act on advice that even you know could improve your work. Revise, revise, revise. Keep all of your old drafts. Then you can look back and see that your story or poem really is better now than it was when you began. Rejections are part of the process. Each one is an opportunity to reevaluate and improve the work, to submit to another venue, or to submit something else to the same venue that may more closely align with their tone. At the same time, never write primarily to please the editors. Write to please your soul.

What goals and/or aspirations do have for your creativity? Where would you like to see your work?

Goal: to continue to improve as a writer. Aspiration: to know that my writing is making a positive difference in someone’s life, even if it’s simply the satisfaction of reading a story well told. Where would I like to see my work? I can give you a list, or I can just say in the hands of those who appreciate it.

— TWD MAGAZINE 4th COLLECTION—

About Phil

Phil Gallos has been a newspaper reporter and columnist, a researcher/writer in the historic preservation field, and has spent 28 years working in academic libraries. Longer works include Cure Cottages of Saranac Lake: Architecture and History of a Pioneer Health Resort, Historic Saranac Lake, 1985, 186 p. Anthologized shorter work can be found in Rooted in Rock: New Adirondack Writing, 1975-2000, Adirondack Museum/Syracuse University Press, 2001; and in Adirondack Reflections: On Life and Living in the Mountains and the Valleys, The History Press, 2013. Most recently, his writing has been published in Thrice Fiction, The Vignette Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Sky Island Journal and is forthcoming in The MacGuffin and Blueline. A native of Manhattan, he lives in Saranac Lake, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains.

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