Interview with Charlotte Hayden: Q1 2018 Creative Nonfiction Contest Runner Up

Sunday, March 31, 2019
Charlotte’s Bio:

Charlotte is from the UK and is working on a short story collection. She writes mostly about the conflicting thoughts and feelings that young women can have in the modern world. Her writing often has a stream of consciousness style and she likes to mix drama (or melodrama) with humour.

Charlotte works as an English Tutor in Cardiff, Wales.

Her stories have been published online by The Honest Ulsterman, Headstuff, Short Story Me, Fiction on the Web, Litro, Zouch, and Words with Jam.

Links to Charlotte’s stories can be found on her blog:

If you haven't done so already, check out Charlotte's award-winning story "My Temporary Complex" and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing this piece and how did it and your writing evolve as you wrote?

Charlotte: I think this piece came from the pressures I felt as a woman turning 30. I think these pressures (to be married, buy a house, have children etc.) have come from both society and my own insecurities, but either way, it made me think about the idea of temporary vs. permanent. Each section to my piece was taken from drafts of other very different stories I had begun, but when I realised I wanted to write a temp/perm themed piece, I could see the parallels between feeling temporary in relationships, in work and in other societal norms.

WOW: The temp/perm theme is strong and well-crafted throughout your essay. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay?

Charlotte: I’m not sure I really learnt a lot about myself (I already knew I was insecure anyway!). But I think my writing turned out to be a bit more emotive than I had anticipated. I also found reading it back highly embarrassing, but that won’t stop me writing more.

WOW: Ah, yes, I find that when I am most embarrassed about my writing, it’s when I’ve tapped into something raw and real. On your blog, you call yourself a “desperate writer.” Why?

Charlotte: I started my blog in 2013 and that’s when I came up with the ‘desperate’ theme. My writing is often based on things I am anxious about or impatient about, and so I think ‘desperate’ sums up these feelings. I don’t think ‘desperate’ is always a negative feeling too. Sometimes being desperate shows determination and that’s what writers need.

WOW: I like that you subvert the traditional definition and reclaim it as a positive. Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you?

Charlotte: I like to read writers who are honest and who tell us what is really going on. I like to read and learn about social injustice in the U.K. and America and I also like to read about complicated romantic relationships that as humans we can usually relate to. Most recently I read Chelsea Hodson’s “Tonight I’m Someone Else” which is a collection of beautiful personal essays about love and modern life. Sylvia Plath’s writing always inspires me to write honestly too.

WOW: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Charlotte: I wrote a few poems as a teenager but that was about it. I would tell my teenage self to read and write more to cope with the boring and painful experience of being a teenager. I think if I’d read more, I would have felt less lonely and I might have found more confidence that way. Thank god being a teenager is over with.

WOW: Thanks so much for that advice and your thoughtful responses. And thank you for sharing your writing with us!

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


Sioux Roslawski said...

Anne--Thanks for doing this interview, and for giving readers a link to Charlotte's story. (Anne--if you could do me a favor and forward this comment to Charlotte, in case she doesn't check back on comments, I'd appreciate it.)

Charlotte--I loved the blend of sad/desperate and funny/snarky. The temporary/permanent format is brilliant. With your permission (and giving you credit when I share it) I'd like to use this piece as a model for a graduate class I teach in the summer. I work with teachers of writing, and I think if I used your piece to show the contrast, the back-and-forth, it would inspire them to write a piece of their own. It might even open them up to different choices besides temporary and permanent.

Let me know if that's okay.

Thank you, Charlotte, for being honest. Being raw should never be embarrassing. We all have things under the surface we might be a bit embarrassed about. However, only the brave ones share with courage and abandonment. Thanks.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Charlotte ~ What a wonderful interview! I've had my eye on Chelsea Hodson's collection ever since I heard an interview with her on the OTHERPPL podcast by Brad Listi of The Nervous Breakdown. If you get a chance to listen to Chelsea's interview, it's fascinating! She talks about her retreats and weird writing exercises. It made me add her book to my TBR pile. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it.

I love the sound of the word "desperate" and the way the word feels in my mouth, on my tongue.

Your essay hits me deeply every time I read it and find something new to relate to. What a great idea to take bits from different essay drafts and use those to piece together a strong theme! It's masterful! And I may just steal your idea as a writing exercise. :)

Congratulations again, Charlotte! I'll be following your work.

Charlotte Hayden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlotte Hayden said...

Sioux - Thank you for this. Of course you can use it. I would love to know your students' thoughts on it. Please keep in touch with me on this via my site or Twitter: @writercharlotte

Angela - I will find Chelsea's interview! Thanks for this and thank you for your kind words.


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