Des Moines, Iowa
Marketa George Oliver has a background in writing, but it is in writing reports, budgets and capital plans in her role as a City Administrator. Creative writing, though, has always been an interest. Marketa is fortunate to have many interesting adventures and travels on which she can draw. She loves travel and has studied overseas in both Austria and Australia. She enjoys movies, backgammon, cards, The Cure and the Iowa State Fair. What brings her the greatest joy, however, is spending time with the colorful, passionate characters in her life.
We welcome Marketa and congratulate her for placing in the Fall 2007 Essay Contest, sponsored by the Globe Pequot Press' skirt! books. If you haven't done so already, please read Marketa's inspirational story, Scrounging for Schillings.
Then come back and join us as we chat with a well-traveled, well-versed writer and a dynamic woman.
WOW: I was reading about your position as City Administrator and saw that you've been very successful and you've been honored with many prestigious awards. How does winning the contest compare to your other successes?
Marketa: I was shocked to find out that I was a finalist. Once I read the bios of the other runners up and the winners, I was even more surprised and very excited. To be included in a group of writing professionals was truly an honor in itself.
WOW: What inspired you to enter the contest?
Marketa: I have always been interested in creative writing, but have not pursued it much in recent years. Last year, I met up with 5 of my other partners in crime in Vienna and we wined and dined around the City in a fashion that we may possibly have not truly appreciated 20 years ago and certainly could not have afforded. Shortly before I entered the contest, I had also been to a reunion with the full group of people I studied with in Vienna a few months before I saw the contest. We shared many stories. Those memories were all fresh in my mind when I stumbled on the Women on Writing website.
WOW: You've certainly had some wonderful experiences. How exciting it must be to spend those adventures with friends. WOW is fortunate that your trip to Vienna refreshed your memories. I'm sure you took many photographs and perhaps made some journal notes while you were there. Does this give you a lot of material for creative writing projects?
Marketa: Traveling has been a cornerstone of my life and my personality. I love the adventure of discovering a new place or new language and the comfort of visiting old ones. The best experience is when you get to share that adventure with a spouse or close friend. When my husband and I got together last year with friends in Vienna, one of the most interesting aspects of that trip, was the chance to see the city through their eyes.
WOW: In your bio, you stated that you've always had an interest in creative writing. Is this the first time you've pursued creative writing?
Marketa: I used to write poetry when I was much younger. I also have recently developed some skeletal children's books based on some experiences I have had with my daughter.
WOW: Talking about the experiences you shared with your daughter bought to mind, The American Doll collection. My granddaughter collects the dolls and the storybooks that come with them. I was thinking your traveling experiences could make some very interesting stories for little girls. Now that you've placed in the contest, will you be writing more essays and entering more contests?
Marketa: Depending on the subject area, I think I would enter more contests. This experience will definitely make me interested in pursuing creative writing on a more regular basis. This experience also bolsters my confidence to enter another contest.
WOW: You mentioned the colorful people in your life, how supportive are they when it comes to encouraging you to write?
Marketa: They are fabulous people who support me in whatever I aspire to do.
WOW: You are so fortunate to have fabulous people in your life. Sometimes our friends and relatives don't realize how much of a role they play in our creative lives. It seems that you are very busy in your position of City Administrator; do you still get the opportunity to travel?
Marketa: I still have opportunities to travel, but not as extensively as before I became a City Administrator. Although, as part of my CA position, I attend at least one national conference each year and they are quite often held in places I would not naturally think of visiting. In that sense, my current position has helped me discover new places.
WOW: To me, "Scrounging for Schillings" was a very inspiring spiritual experience. I too have learned to appreciate that miracles do not always come in epic proportions. Is spirituality still a big part of your life?
Marketa: I do not have perfect attendance in church, but I consider myself a spiritual person. I try to instill values of kindness, equity and compassion in my daughter each day and try to exhibit those qualities myself.
WOW: Spirituality is a big part of my life too. In my writing career, I plan to tidy up some lose ends. Have you set any writing goals for 2008?
Marketa: I want to finish the skeletal children's book(s) that I have written and find an illustrator for them.
WOW: Good luck on finishing your children's books. With your organizational skills and enthusiasm, I'm sure you'll reach your 2008 goals. Do you have any advice for other women writers? Would you recommend they enter writing contests?
Marketa: I would recommend to any of the women that are interested in writing to pursue it. It does not have to be the great American novel, it can simply be writing about a special memory. Our stories are threads that connect generations. A few years ago, I bought my father a book that had a prompt per day for a special moment in life. It asked the owner to write about a first kiss; the day a child was born; a special childhood activity; etc. I treasure reading those short answers. I know my daughter loves to hear about the day she first walked or what we did when we found out she was on her way, so I know that I need to get busy with my pen to stay connected.
If you haven't done so already, please read Marketa's award winning story, Scrounging for Schillings
And remember, every Tuesday we'll be featuring an interview with one of the top 10 winners from the Fall 2007 Essay Contest. So, be sure to check back and see who's up next!
For more details on WOW! Women On Writing's current contest, please visit: