Mary Roberson Wiygul has taught high school English for the past twenty-five years. Upon retirement this May, she plans to devote as much time as possible to finishing her MFA in Creative Writing at the Mississippi University for Women where she is currently enrolled. Her work has been published in Huffington Post, Hippocampus Magazine, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop and in several other publications. She currently lives in Columbus, MS, with her husband and children.
You can find some of Mary's work online at:
If you haven't done so already, check out Mary's beautiful and emotional story Brush with Reality and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations Mary!Thank you for writing this essay and taking time to speak with us today about it - what is the take-away you'd like readers to gain from Brush with Reality?
Mary: I hope the take-away of this essay is to cherish the time you have with your loved ones. Anyone who has or has had a loved one with dementia knows it is a heartbreaking disease. In many ways you lose a loved one before they’re even gone. I choose to believe that though they can’t always communicate it, people affected by dementia still know their loved ones in some capacity. I would like for this hope to be communicated through the essay as well.
WOW: Cherishing time with loved ones is definitely important; thank you for pointing that out. Often our loved ones are the ones who support us most. How about you, who is your support - what have you found to be most supportive in your writing life as well as in life in general?
Mary: I am blessed to have an amazing husband and a wonderful group of friends in my corner. They have had my back through thick and thin and have always supported my writing goals. They believe in me even when I don’t believe in myself and always encourage me to pursue my writing passion. I know I drive them crazy, but they still let me read them my essays and give me their input!
WOW: I'm sure he enjoys cheering you on - so...what’s next for you? What are your writing goals for the remainder of 2020 and beyond?
Mary: I started working toward an MFA in Creative Writing at the Mississippi University for Women last summer, so when I retire in May I plan to devote as much as possible to finishing that degree. A lot of people think I’m nuts for going back to school at this stage in my life, but writing a book has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. As part of the program, I will have to complete a book-length work and having deadlines will keep me accountable. I need to be pushed!
WOW: Let's talk about pushing yourself; do you have advice for your younger self when it comes to making decisions, believing in yourself, and/or writing? What would your current self say to the younger you?
Mary: My current self would definitely tell my younger self to make writing a priority and not let life get in the way! I have dreamed of being a published writer since I was a little girl, but I let too many things pull me away from my passion. I truly regret not writing more and not putting my work out into the world at an earlier age. I believe everyone has a story to tell and something to teach the world, and it is never too early to start.
WOW: Is Brush with Reality part of something larger you are working on? It reads like a small chapter of a larger work - if it is, when can we expect to read it? If it isn't - why not?
Mary: Brush with Reality was originally written as a stand- alone piece, but I am considering including it in a collection of personal essays for my thesis. If I stay on track (fingers crossed), I should finish with that collection in the summer of 2021.
WOW: What advice would you give to other writers?
Mary: Don’t be afraid of rejection. Chances are, there is someone out there who wants or needs to hear what you have to say, but it takes time to find that audience. Just view each rejection as another step closer to narrowing down your search. Look at it this way, the only way you are assured you won’t get published is if you don’t submit your work at all. Submit, submit, submit!
WOW: Thank you for sharing your thoughts today. We will be looking forward to hearing more from you well beyond 2020!
Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on!
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