Charlotte B. Roth fell in love with the craft of writing five years ago in a memoir workshop. Her work appears in the anthology titled The Boom Project, and also in Long Ridge Review. She received an Honorable Mention in the Q419, Women on Writing creative non-fiction contest.
Her writing draws from her life growing up in Pineville, Kentucky, in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, the strong-willed women that raised her, African violets, and the old Ash tree in her back yard. Charlotte currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband, two spoiled Havanese, and 88 house plants (at last count).
Playing with her grandsons, gardening, meditation, and a cup of Earl Grey, fuel her creativity. Follow her on Twitter@croth502, Instagram@croth502, and @charlottebowlingroth.
If you haven't done so already, check out Charlotte's intimate and touching story Oxfords and Heels - - Walking Through Life and then return here for a chat with the author.
WOW: Congratulations Charlotte! Thank you for writing this essay - what is the take-away you'd like readers to gain from Oxfords and Heels?
Charlotte: Remember that life is composed of everyday minutia, and so are our most interesting and intriguing stories. When you get stumped, or your mind deadlocks, stop for a moment to allow a small memory or an object from the past to float through your mind. Then start writing about it without conscious critiquing. It's a good exercise to remember the tiny details of your life. It adds perspective. Dust off old memories, connect the dots, try to put segmented essays together. Oxfords and Heels were four pairs of shoes, but it could just as easily have been four purses, five dogs, or three boyfriends— just let your muse take over without judgment.
WOW: I feel like that slight pause is great advice for life right now too - thank you for that!
Where do you write? What does your space look like?
Charlotte: My space is chaotic, as is my thought process. My desk is covered with papers, books, notebooks, sticky notes, a finger labyrinth, crystals, and my mala beads. Anne Lamott says, "Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground," and I agree with her. I have two large windows that display my climbing yellow roses dancing with purple clematis, azalea bushes, and a row of holly trees. Surrounding my desk are bookshelves, and plants. I begin with a writing ritual: I make a cup of tea (Earl Grey or chai), put it in a special teacup with a saucer. The teacup I chose depends on the energy I'd like to channel. I have one that belonged to my mother, my mother-in-law, an Alice in Wonderland cup, the teacup Chip, from Beauty and the Beast—I can go on about my teacups, but I won't bore you.
WOW: It's great to hear you are so successful in your craft despite the chaos - that's empowering to many I'm sure.
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?
Charlotte: That's a hard one. I'd tell her to listen to her heart. Follow it regardless what people say or think. Be more confident. When I graduated high school, I was told by family and teachers that I had to do something with business, science, or education if I wanted to make any money. That I couldn't make a living in art or literature. So that's what I did. I worked in business management and later, property management all the while writing stories in my head. I wasted a lot of time and I regret that. I wish I'd followed the starving artist path. I'd say— Do what brings you joy. And don't throw those old poems, journals, or diaries away! They are golden.
WOW: I love so much of what you said - especially:
DO WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY!
Thank you for your honesty!
Speaking of joy - does journaling bring you joy? What role has journaling and/or writer's group played in your writing life?
Charlotte: Reading Julia Cameron's The Artist Way, and working through her workbook brought me back to journaling and writing.
My monthly writing group and my writing workshop community are the backbones of my writing. Everything I write filters through one of these groups. "Oxfords and Heels" was actually born from a writing prompt from one of my group workshops.
Sitting around a nurturing table, offering honest feedback and encouragement helps make my writing stronger. Without this tribe of writers, I wouldn't have found the courage or confidence to share my work, enter a contest, or put my essays out there for submissions.
WOW: We here at WOW! are so happy you fuond the courage and confidence to share - thank you!
Do you often enter contests or is this a first? What would you like to tell other authors concerning contests and submitting their work?
Charlotte: I rarely enter contests.
I have entered the WOW! contest three times, though. I like the word limitation and the option to get feedback. I entered Oxfords and Heels in a previous WOW contest, revised it from the excellent critique received, and reentered for this one. I was thrilled my edits, based on the advice received, helped this piece make it to the top ten. I'd tell other authors, "You have nothing to lose, especially with the WOW contest where you have the option for constructive feedback, your essay will be better in the long run, even if you don't win.
WOW: That's great advice - and speaking of advice...here we are April 20th 2020 and what advice do you have for others during this turbulent pandemic time? What's working or not working for you?
Charlotte: I am not the one to ask for advice, but what I've found helpful is a bit of a routine, different from the routine— pre-pandemic. Meditation has been my saving grace. If you don't have a meditation practice, I'd recommend starting one. Even if you just start slow, sitting in silence for 10 minutes, it helps ground you. My husband and I meditate first thing every morning, and again after dinner. We walk the dogs at 4:00 every day. We meet at 5:00 to watch our wise governor on television. He reminds us we are all in this together. We facetime our grandsons at least four times a week.
Limit social media, don't get caught up in the frenzy and the fear. Keep a gratitude journal, find something you can be grateful for every day. Some days it may just be toilet paper.
I'm finding it hard to start anything new. I am digging back into old pieces and revising. I had this vision that I'd write and write and write creatively uninterrupted. I'd sort through old photos and organize, I'd clean and organize my house, but none of that is working. I'm not sure where the day goes.
WOW: Thank you for that sage advice regarding this trying time and thank you for sharing your thoughts today. We will be looking forward to hearing more from you in 2020 and beyond!
Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on!
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