Interview with Keb Filippone: Q4 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest Third Place Winner

Sunday, November 15, 2020
Keb’s Bio: 

This is Keb’s first time entering a WOW contest and her first time trying her hand at creative nonfiction, generally preferring poetry over prose. She is very grateful for the positive response to her essay. Keb has explored writing on and off over the years, but it wasn’t until recently, when she became an empty nester, that she started to focus on it. She is currently at work on a poetry manuscript that addresses some of the challenges of middle age. She has been inspired to attempt more nonfiction as a result of this contest. After spending most of her life in NY, she moved to Florida approximately 6 years ago where she lives with her husband and dog. She is the mother of three lovely and talented children. 

If you haven't done so already, check out Keb's award-winning story "Some Things Better Left Unsaid" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing third in the WOW! Q4 2020 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing this piece and how did it and your writing evolve as you wrote? 

Keb: I don’t think this essay would have come about if not for the pandemic and ensuing shut down. I was exasperated and felt trapped by the circumstances. I adore my family, but I felt like I was losing myself because I couldn’t find any solitude. I think the quarantine amplified all my frustrations. I started writing in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep because it was the only time that I felt truly alone and focused. I have always loved writing poetry, but during this strange unprecedented period I wanted to explore my vulnerabilities and more fully express myself, and I felt prose provided a better opportunity and platform for this. 

WOW: A silver lining of the pandemic, perhaps, that you were able to find time to write and explore a new genre. What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Keb: I can be pretty raw and brutal in my writing which doesn't necessarily match my demeanor. And I also think I need to work on being more empathetic with those around me. 

WOW: Was it a challenge to share a personal essay with an audience? If so, how did you overcome it? 

Keb: Oh God yes, in the essay I basically dissect my marriage and admit to some of my worst vices. However, the piece flowed out of me so easily and literally, the day after I wrote it, I stumbled across the WOW site so I felt like it was meant to be. 

WOW: Perfect timing! We’re glad you found us! Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Keb: I listen regularly to Billy Collin’s daily poetry broadcasts, which are available on his Facebook page. I find them very inspiring. He is one of my favorite poets. I'm currently reading Love & Trouble by Claire Dederer which is great creative nonfiction and I’m also reading Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill which is a very creative approach to storytelling and literary fiction. 

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

Keb: Write more, and not always just about sad stuff. Document what makes you happy and brings you joy. And also, if you have a thought you find interesting, try to capture it in the moment and expand on it rather than letting it float away. 

WOW: Ooh, that’s great advice! Thank you! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Keb: I have such respect for sites that encourage writing, and I’m so happy to have discovered WOW. I am grateful for the appreciation of my essay. It definitely has inspired me to keep at it. 

WOW: Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses. And we are grateful you shared 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.


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