Congratulations to Julie Lockhart and Nature's Sanity and all the winners of our 2022 Quarter 1 Creative Non-Fiction Essay Contest!
Julie Lockhart loves an adventure, especially in wild places. She spent most of her career in academics, where she published extensively in peer-reviewed journals, such as Critical Issues in Environmental Taxation; Social Accounting, Mega Accounting and Beyond; and Advances in Accounting Education. During the final six years of her professional career, she led a grief support nonprofit, where she discovered the beauty and depth of personal stories, sharing her own experience as well as that of others to help grieving people feel less alone. From that she has embraced a memoir style in writing about her adventures, sharing vivid details and insights that come from her life experiences. Julie has published two personal essays in Southern Oregon newspapers. She was raised in the Chicago area, and has spent her adult years in the Pacific Northwest. Julie recently moved to Port Townsend, WA.
If you haven't done so already, check out Julie's talent in writing with the touching story Nature's Sanity and then return here for a chat with this talented author.
WOW: Thank you Julie for sharing your essay - it's so inspiring to hear from our contestants - I always learn something! I'm sure you've got some great tips and tricks to share, so let's get to it!
Thank you for writing this essay - what is the take-away you'd like readers to gain from "Nature's Sanity" ?
Julie: Thank you for interviewing me! I wrote this essay based on a prompt from Chelsey Clammer’s online class, Crazy Good Writing. As I worked to put words to my physical and emotional experience, I felt transported back to the peaceful refuge that nature provided for me. My hope is that others who read it will also feel the peacefulness, a balm in these difficult times. Perhaps the scenes will spark ideas for the reader on how to raise their spirits when life drags them down. I also hope the reader appreciates the value of cherishing wild places for the health of our humanity.
WOW: That's such an amazing gift to give strangers - especially in today's busy world. Thank you!
What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for 2022 and beyond?
Julie: This year, I hope to motivate myself to finish the first draft of my memoir and start to edit in earnest. I am much better at finishing shorter projects—like 1,000 word essays—where there’s more immediate gratification. As I gain confidence in my writing craft, I plan to continue to write shorter essays about the challenges I’ve worked through in my life—perhaps to inspire others. My husband and I will also be doing a lot of camping this year, and I will bring my notebook for some timed writings as we travel from stunning place to stunning place in the Western states, capturing the sights, sounds, feelings in real time.
WOW: That sounds dreamy (the camping part especially) and we wish you all the luck with your amazing goals!
I think you had mentioned you have a great support group - so we have to know; what role has writer's groups played in your life?
Julie: I am part of a weekly writing group with four wonderfully supportive women. All of us write in a memoir style, and three of us, including me, are working on memoirs. We do timed writing, of twenty or so minutes, which carries me into a zone of deeper perspectives on my life. We put pen to paper and keep writing without regard for spelling, punctuation, grammar. Then we share what we wrote. Afterward, I go to the computer and type it in, without much editing. Later I can go back for more editing. It may seem strange, but I’ve written most of what’s in my memoir by hand like this. In the group, each of us has brought finished pieces for feedback, too. We learn from each other, while retaining our own style and voice. The four of us have formed a close bond from the sharing that comes in writing and reading about our personal challenges and breakthroughs. I am where I am in this journey as a writer because of them!
WOW: It's so empowering when authors help one another - I'm so thankful you have such a fabulous support system!
Do you often enter writing contests - tell us what prompted you to submit to this particular contest? What would you like to tell other authors concerning contests and submitting their work?
Julie: I have submitted to several WOW contests, as well as to other magazines. I thrive on getting writing out there, even though I’m collecting lots of rejection letters. When I was in academics, I had to come to terms with crushing rejection, and I realized it’s not personal. Thus, I learned in my 30’s that I have to take risks and get my work in front of critical eyes and bounce back after rejection. Essay writing often broaches the tender places of the heart, so it takes some bravery to polish a piece and send it out. Yet I made the decision to jump in and accept what comes. Plus, I love a deadline to keep me moving forward. Word limits force me to become more efficient in how I share the details of my story. I spend a lot of time with the thesaurus to find just the right juicy word to express the essence and feel of my experience without having to over-explain. What I love best in submitting to WOW is getting the critique. The editors are so positive and give excellent feedback that helps me improve what I’m working on. Even with “Nature’s Sanity,” there’s more work to be done based on the critique!
WOW: We sure love hearing that! Thank you - we are happy to be part of your story!
As our time comes to a close, I have to ask... How did you end up in Port Townsend, WA? Is there a good story we should know?
Julie: There’s always a good story! About 15 years ago, while living in Bellingham, WA, I travelled to Port Townsend for a personal retreat. Wandering into the spiritual bookstore on Water Street, I spotted a sign: Psychic Reading Today! I made a spontaneous what-the-heck decision and signed up. The psychic began by telling me all sorts of things she couldn’t have otherwise known about my family, my work, and my relationship. Then she said, “You’re a good writer. You write things that aren’t fulfilling to you. Soon you will be writing things of meaning.” I took notice, and when I got back home, signed up for a creative nonfiction course. Fast forward to 2021, when my husband and I decided to move out of fire-prone Southern Oregon, Port Townsend was high on our list. I loved the idea of getting back to the dramatic scenery of Northwest Washington. He and I visited here last June and found a beautiful house right away—in a very tight market. It seemed meant to be. Being here now is like full circle—to have placed in the Q1 contest while living in Port Townsend where I first answered the call to write things of meaning!
WOW: This has been so inspiring - thank you ever so much Julie for sharing your essay, and your time with us today! We look forward to more from you in 2022 and beyond!
I also need to say - I knew there would be a good story in your move - thanks for sharing!!