I'm thrilled to chat with Meredith Baker about her award-winning essay, "The Choice." Meredith and I chat about crafting a one-sentence essay, coping with writer's block, and finding inspiration in nature.
Meredith has historically been a chronic overachiever, amassing a string of letters after her name and awards until life took an unexpected turn that forced her to slow down. After becoming a victim of crime, she embarked on a journey to share her experience through creative writing with the same tenacity she once applied to her career. Meredith lives peacefully near the beach where she finds inspiration to write. She remains in hiding from her perpetrator, who has since been released from prison.
--- Interview by Angela Mackintosh
WOW: Welcome, Meredith! Congratulations on your second place win. I personally love one-sentence essays, and yours is well crafted. Why did you decide to write your essay in this format?
Meredith: As I work to hone my writing craft, I have been writing essays in different forms. When I attempted the one-sentence format, I closed my eyes and just allowed my fingers to float across the keyboard. It was a very liberating way to write, and I highly recommend it.
WOW: Oh yes, it does help with stream-of-conscious writing. I've found the biggest challenge is the transitions without hard stops, so it's definitely a form worth studying and trying. Do you have any other favorite one-sentence essays that you can share with our readers?
Meredith: This piece was inspired by Jaquira Diaz’s "Reflections, While Sitting in Traffic," first published July 15, 2014 by TriQuarterly. Her subject is the opposite of mine, which I had to overlook to see the beauty of the one-sentence format.
WOW: That's one of my favorites, and I love all of Diaz's work. You mentioned living near the beach, which serves as your inspiration to write. That sounds heavenly! Do you have a writing routine and/or any writing rituals?
Meredith: Being a new writer, I’m learning how to cope with writer’s block. When I get stuck, I walk the beach as a way to reset, clear the noise and map my way around the block. One of my personal favorite moments was picking up a shell that inspired a thought which not only navigated the writer’s block but ended up taking my essay in a whole new direction!
WOW: I love that! Nature can be so inspiring. What advice would you give to writers who are struggling to share their personal stories on the page?
Meredith: I am a lone writer and have struggled greatly to write about difficult emotions until I stumbled on the Face Your Fears workshop offered by WOW! It was almost as if I needed permission to open that wound and, though it was difficult, it relieved my body of the burden. Knowing it is captured in your owns words made it okay to put it behind me and out of my mind.
My advice: Close your eyes, write what you feel and completely disregard the technical, grammatical and lyrical aspects of writing. Just write.
WOW: That is great advice, Meredith. I also took Chelsey's Face Your Fears workshop, and I can't say enough good things about it. It helped me break a long spell of writer's block. Are you working on any writing projects right now? What's next for you?
Meredith: I am working on honing my craft by writing one essay a day. I’m nearly out of nonfiction topics, so I am venturing into the world of fiction which I am finding to be a challenge!
WOW: What a coincidence! I'm also venturing into the world of fiction for the first time, and find it very challenging. But I think the techniques of both forms help enhance each other. Best of luck to you in that, and all of your writing projects.
Find out more about WOW's flash fiction and creative nonfiction contests here: https://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php