Helen has her master’s degree in social work. She completed her career as a school social worker and raised her two children to young adult age in Boulder, Colorado. She now lives in a highrise in downtown Denver with her husband who is required to read everything she writes. Her formal writing training is from Gotham Writers’ Workshop in New York City and Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop in Denver. Recent classes at Lighthouse have moved her towards writing in something like a “hybrid/narrative nonfiction” genre and she is delighted that WOW has chosen this piece for publication.
Helen: I don't write with a specific take-away for my readers and I am always surprised with the different take-aways each reader develops. One reader asked me if the children really fell through the ice in the end. Another told me she has noticed over the years how maturity has indeed softened my language. My mother read the piece and said she didn't understand a word of it.
WOW: It's interesting even when we have an intended take-away, each reader's life experience is going to give them a different view of our writing. So, tell us dear Helen, where do you write? What does your space look like?
Helen: I write anywhere and everywhere: park benches are great. On my yoga mat on my stomach (modified sphinx pose?) is great. Rarely do I sit at a desk or in a chair. Lots of time when I am running or walking, words that will end up on a page are coming to me....
WOW: I'm chuckling while envisioning that pose - maybe an idea for your bio pic on an upcoming book? Who is your support - what have you found to be most supportive in your writing life as well as in life in general?
Helen: Writing classes provide support. I have several friends who are good, enthusiastic readers and provide gentle feedback or comments that help me know which direction to head with the piece.
WOW: I'm still going back to yoga - and still laughing - what advice would you give to others (specifically female authors and mothers) when it comes to self care?
Helen: Aw, I don't know. Self care is so tricky - who even knows what it means. . . Mostly we all just try to manage "stuff" when it presents itself, right?
WOW: Speaking of things presenting themselves... what’s next for you? What are your writing goals for the remainder of 2021 and beyond?
Helen: I am not a person who sets rules for myself about writing. I write when something pops out for me to write. I want to send 3-5 (?) pieces in for consideration at various places this year. That's IF I get around to it!
WOW: I certainly appreciate your honesty.
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?
Helen: My current self would say to my younger self: Look at you! Faults and foibles and all. . . you did pretty damn good so far, but you're not off the hook yet. Stay open, keep taking risks, push sometimes when you don't want to. Stop still and listen and wait sometimes when you don't want to.
WOW: Do you have other published pieces (long or short) or books? If you do not - what's holding you back?
Helen: I have never gotten organized enough about sending pieces in for consideration. Sending this piece to WOW was a fluke of some sort.
WOW: Fluke or not, we are glad you are here!
What role has journaling and/or writer's groups played in your writing life?
Helen: Journaling is writing. All my pieces come out of one journal or another: a sketch book, a tiny travel notebook, my daily journal-- and they are drawn with color pencil, written in ink. (It turns out I don't like writing with Le Pens very much - they are too fine-pointed and tend to seep through to the back of the page--but they are beautiful).
WOW: Do you often enter contests or is this a first? What would you like to tell other authors concerning contests and submitting their work?
Helen: I have probably in my entire life sent 10-12 pieces to literary journals or contests for consideration. I would tell myself and others: DO IT! Just hit the submit button. Nothing to lose.
WOW: What advice do you have for others during this turbulent pandemic time? What's working or not working for you?
Helen: For me, this time is actually no more turbulent than any other time in life. It's all about not getting attached to how you think things should be. . . don't all the wisest of sages tell us that???