TWD Magazine 4th Collection Interview: M.E. Proctor — Fiction Contributor

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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

What does creativity mean to you? And what does it mean to be creative?
I’m more comfortable with words like “creation” or “creating” – making something from pure imagination or combining ingredients to make a new product. It applies to literature as well as cooking or woodworking. I hear an implied value judgement in creativity/creative. It’s the outside world looking at an artist or a creation and putting a label on them.

How do you make time for your creativity? Are you an early bird creative or a night owl? Or something in between?
Definitely not an early bird and a terrible procrastinator. It may take me all day to get in the right frame of mind before I sit down and get to work. I envy people who can hit the road running or stick to a schedule. I have wasted entire week-ends “getting ready to get going”. Maybe my mind is doing some churning in the background, unless it’s just gathering wool! I usually hit my stride later in the day.

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?
The things we do, the decisions we make, the people we meet… Everything goes in the big cauldron. What comes out of it has been transformed beyond recognition. Sometimes my friends say they recognize a person or a situation in a story. Maybe they’re right, but it’s completely involuntary on my part. I do not deliberately bring up memories or feelings. They find their way into the stories by themselves.

About Creative Moments & Inspiration

What is your most memorable creative moment, if any?
Does writing yourself in a corner, chew on the problem for a week, then wake up one morning with the solution poking you in the face qualify? It happened to me a few times and gave me an unshakable belief in the puzzle-solving abilities of the brain. To the point that I’m tempted to build writing mazes for the fun of finding out how I’ll manage to get out of them.

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?

I mix genres all the time. SF, mystery, crime, horror. Genres bleed into each other. Even when I write a sweet childhood story I can’t resist inserting dark undertones. Where is the freedom of the writer if you have to follow strict conventions and constantly toe the line, where is the surprise for the reader? I constantly struggle with category checkboxes. They don’t matter much in the end anyway. It all comes to liking a story or not.

What/who inspires you the most?
Words. I get a name in my head and there’s a character. He/she will get a body, a mind, issues and something will happen to him/her. Or it’s a sentence, floating, disconnected, and needing to lead somewhere. At that point I do not know where the story is going and I’m excited to find out. I don’t see images that summon words, I see words that generate images.

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

I’m fascinated by Iain Banks. He’s a Scottish writer who died five years ago at age 59. He’s well known in the UK, but I don’t think he’s famous in the U.S. He wrote both mainstream books (The Crow Road is my favorite) and SF as Iain M. Banks (The Player of Games is the coolest story). He made me desperate to write SF. I want to be that good; it’s a tall order! There’s also a French singer-songwriter, Zaz, that people should check out. She’s mostly folk, but I like her jazzy voice, and you don’t need to know French to appreciate. I don’t remember who told me about her. I think it was a guy at the airport.

Tips For Others, Personal Goals

What tips would you give to those who have never published anything before?
An old teacher of mine used to say that everybody had at least one good story in them. What he didn’t say was that many writers start but never finish. You have to be passionate and obsessive to write, but it also helps to be stubborn. Keeping at it, sticking with it no matter what. Writing is fun, but there is a fair amount of non-writing involved in getting published. Spending hours online looking for agents or publishers, agonizing over query letters, synopses and submission guidelines. And then there’s the hurdle of the “thank you but no.” It’s hard and it doesn’t get better with time and repetition. It’s a frustrating game but you have to keep playing. Keep writing. Write while you wait for the replies, write after you get the “no”, and absolutely write after you get the “yes”. It will come but it’s only the beginning. Who stops after one story?

What goals and/or aspirations do have for your creativity? Where would you like to see your work?
I want to keep finding new angles on stories, and characters I can fall for. Alternating short stories and longer work. I don’t know the length of a piece when I start. The tale goes where it wants to go and ends when it feels natural to end. Writing short stories is a way to relieve the tension that comes with working on a book, it’s coming up for air. I also want to try new things, explore different moods, challenge myself, go overboard. A short story is the perfect vehicle for that kind of experimentation.

— TWD MAGAZINE 4th COLLECTION—

About M.E.

M.E. Proctor worked as a freelance journalist and communication professional for many years. After forays into SF, she’s currently working on a series of contemporary detective novels. When she needs a break from the tribulations of her fictional private investigator, she writes short stories. Some of these have been published, both in Europe and in the U.S. She lives in Livingston, Texas, with her husband Jim, also a writer.

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