Connect with her on Twitter @DorothyRCollin.
interview by Marcia Peterson
WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Q3 2022 Creative Nonfiction essay competition! What inspired you to write your essay, “Dissociative Love?”
Dorothy: Thank you. It’s an honor to see my work shared alongside so many talented writers' stories. The inspiration for this piece came from my need to give back to the twin parenting community. I didn’t know much about Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome before becoming pregnant with twins. After my twins’ diagnosis, I scoured the internet looking for first hand accounts. Stories shared on blog posts and in online support groups gave me hope and new information about the syndrome. I promised myself during that moment that one day I would share my story. This essay is my first attempt at sharing that experience with a wider audience.
WOW: How did your essay develop, both in your initial thinking about it and in the revision process?
Dorothy: This essay wasn’t an easy one for me to write. I wanted to write about my pregnancy, but all of my first attempts didn’t work They focused on the facts of my pregnancy, reading more like a medical manual than a personal essay. I knew I had a story to tell, but I couldn’t find it. I went back to my journals and the text messages I sent during that time period for inspiration. Those entries reminded me how detached I was throughout the process and how afterwards I felt ashamed for not experiencing what I deemed an appropriate emotional response. Once I knew my writer’s block was coming from the fear of being judged, it was easy to overcome. I made my detachment the focus of my essay and everything flowed from there.
WOW: As a busy mom, how do you make time to write? What works best for you?
Dorothy: That is one of the hardest parts of writing as a mom. It’s not just about finding time to write. It’s also about not feeling guilty when I take time for myself. I try to schedule an hour at the end of the day and a chunk of time on Sunday morning to write. I couldn’t do this without support from my husband and children.
I credit my children for teaching me a wonderful lesson about the unseen benefits of taking time for yourself. When my kids were doing remote learning, it was hard to find time to write. I’d fit in a quick 20 minute writing session between playing with my younger kids and helping my older ones with schoolwork. It was during one of these sessions that my daughter sat down with me and wrote her own story. Seeing her find her creative side by watching me write was amazing. It inspired me to start including my kids in my creative time. We pick a short period of time once a week where everyone does something creative by themselves. Afterwards we discuss what we chose to do. Sometimes my kids write or read, but they also get lost in building legos, art projects, etc. It gives me guilt-free writing time and hopefully shows them how important it is to take time for their creative needs.
WOW: Are you working on any writing projects right now? What’s next for you?
Dorothy: I’m continuing to hone my craft and hope to share more short fiction stories, personal essays, and poetry in the near future. My long term plans include writing a memoir about the struggles I experienced during my twin pregnancy and what life was like afterwards trying to balance the needs of all four of my children.
WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Dorothy. Before you go, can you share a favorite tip or piece of advice related to creative nonfiction writing?
Dorothy: The best advice I can give is to frequently remind yourself why you started writing. It’s easy to get caught up in the circus of who published where, but for most of us we didn’t start writing because we wanted to be published in a specific place. We wrote because there was something about writing that made our world a little better. I write to be more mindful. Writing has helped me appreciate all the details in life that otherwise I might miss and through it I’ve gained a better understanding of myself. When I remember that writing makes me a happier person, it’s easier to get up an hour earlier to finish a piece or keep chugging along after a rejection.
For more information about our quarterly Flash Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Essay contests, visit our contest page here.