Interview with Jackie Pick: Q2 2018 Creative Nonfiction Contest Runner Up

Sunday, July 01, 2018
Jackie’s Bio:

Jackie Pick is a former teacher who only recently embraced her true calling as a word monkey. She is a contributing author to both Multiples Illuminated anthologies, as well as Here in the Middle and So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood. Her essays have been in the literary magazines The Sun and Selfish, as well as various online sites including Mamalode, The Herstories Project, and Scary Mommy. She is also co-writer and executive producer of the award-winning short film Fixed Up and a proud member of the 2017 Chicago cast of Listen To Your Mother. A graduate of the University of Chicago and Northwestern, Jackie lives in the Chicago area with her husband and her three children. You can follow Jackie on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, where she mostly just apologizes for not updating her blog.

If you haven’t done so already, check out Jackie’s award-winning story “The Deep-Down Tumble” and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing again in the Creative Nonfiction Contest! What excited you most about writing this essay?

Jackie: This was one of those pieces of lightning. I was just trying to catch it. My writing is often a process of trying to force all the ideas through a tiny, moody word-meat grinder. But this one came quickly and with minor bumps and bruises. It needed rewrites, but there was little agony. I love when that happens.

WOW: That sounds delightful, though I love that phrase “moody word-meat grinder”! The narrator in your essay says that she is tired, and I like how you differentiate between different kinds of tiredness: Kidtired vs. Womantired. Is writing something that exhausts or energizes you?

Jackie: It’s both in the way that exercise is both energizing and exhausting. The wrestling to get what’s on the page to match what I want to say is exhausting, but much less so now that I've come to accept what I write will never match what’s in my head.

It’s energizing when I dive in and don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is an energy drain, a one-woman chess game where I think through the writing process to an illogical horrible conclusion which includes horrific career death. It’s quite dramatic.

Sometimes exhaustion comes when I revisit a piece I’ve let marinate…and it’s terrible? How on earth do I fix it? Do I even bother? And, on bad days, does this mean I will never write well again?

If thought processes and self-flagellation were cardio, writers would be the fittest people on the planet. Fortunately, I don’t settle into those thoughts for long. I either let the story/essay rest (in peace) or I jump in and write – it all comes back to that.

I try to have several projects on my plate at once so as not to put all my eggs in one thought basket.

WOW: What did you learn about yourself or your writing through this essay?

Jackie: I learned that I worry I will never write another good piece again.

I learned that when I write serious pieces, deconstructing the first draft into a poem helps me. It unties me from the rules and helps me dig into what important. The first prose draft is the wireframe, the poem the draped clay. Or something like that.

WOW: I’m always interested in knowing how writers are inspired by different genres of writing, so deconstructing a prose draft into poetry is an enlightening idea. I get the impression that your children and family are an important part of your life. Do they support your writing career?

Jackie: As my kids and husband will read this, I will vigorously agree that they are an important part of my life.

The kids are still young enough that the five of us are The Almost Everything. Change is in the air as my twins get older and dip their toes into tweendom. I suspect the relationships are about to evolve.

I am lucky that my husband and kids give me honest-to-goodness actual support. Not lip service. Not “Cute Hobby” support. Support. My writing time is work time and sacred. My accomplishments are met with whoops and cheers and pride, my disappointments with pints of ice cream I don’t have to share.

The kids get a kick out of it all, and if nothing else see how much hard work goes into art and how much hard work goes into “accomplishment” and how many different definitions of “accomplishment” there are.

They are now of an age where if I write them into a piece as more than a background character, I ask their permission and give them veto power. They know if I am writing about the family, they are always the heroes (albeit sometimes funny/bumbling heroes) and I am the one who is thwarted. I am the butt of the joke. And they like that, mostly because they can say, “So, you’re the butt, here?”

Fortunately, they have always given me permission to write them into a tale and submit. They may not continue to do so, in which case I shall have to either edit heavily or kick them out of the family.

My husband has been my rock and biggest support and respects the space and the process. And he buys the ice cream. The good stuff.

WOW: Thank you for sharing about your family dynamic as it relates to your writing. Hearing this made me laugh and gave me some happy, feel-good goosebumps. Do you have any tips for busy women and/or mothers for finding balance, which includes time to write?

Jackie: Ah. Balance. The unicorn of parenthood.

I used to coach high school cross country and would joke that my job was giving two pieces of advice: Run faster, run farther.

So maybe the only advice I’m qualified to give to other parent-writers is what I tell myself: Write faster, write farther.

WOW: Poignant. I like that comparison. Anything else you’d like to add?

Jackie: Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on my writing and my process. It’s a great check in and lots of fun! And thank you for the chance to work with WOW!

WOW: You are welcome! It has been our pleasure. Thank you for your wonderful essays and thoughtful responses. Happy writing!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive sportswomen.


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