Interview with Alece Kaplan Runner Up in the WOW! Quarter 3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest with "Blessed Be She Who Dwells on Rye"

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Congratulations to Alece Kaplan and Blessed Be She Who Dwells on Rye, and to all of the other contestants and winners of the WOW! Women on Writing Quarter 3 2023 Essay Contest!

Alece's Bio: Alece is an occupational therapist who writes for fun whenever she is inspired. She lives in Boulder with her two amazing sons and an extremely lazy bulldog. Her work has been published in Bitch Magazine, McSweeney’s, Role Reboot, and various occupational therapy publications. She enjoys reading, drawing, walking around and looking at things, spending time with family, and mercilessly dominating her patients at balloon volleyball.

*****interview by Crystal J Casavant-Otto*****
WOW:  I hope everyone has already read Blessed Be She Who Dwells on Rye, and if not I recommend giving it a read and then returning here for our interview! Thank you for writing this essay. Do you have a special place your write? What does your creative space look like?

Alece:   I have two elementary school-aged kids who like me to stay in their bedroom while they fall asleep. It's a bit inconvenient but I'm a sucker and can't say no. So while they're drifting off, I sit at their little art desk with my laptop brightness turned down as low as possible, and write. The kids fall asleep to the sound of my typing, I think it bores them to sleep. Maybe when they're older they'll need to play a YouTube video of someone typing in order to fall asleep. 

WOW: That's pretty awesome - as a mom, I get it completely! You're definitely a multi-tasker, so...what’s next for you? What are your writing goals for Summer/Fall 2023 and beyond? 

Alece: Right now I'm writing an article about "anticipatory grief," which is the grief that people feel days, months, or even years before a loved one passes away. I see this a lot in my work as an occupational therapist- caregivers and family members grieving a loved one's decline due to dementia, Parkinson's, ALS, cancer, or other progressive diseases that strip away a person's physical and/or cognitive abilities. Despite the widespread prevalence of anticipatory grief, the term itself and information about the stages and ways to manage this type of grief are not widely known. I've lost count of how many times I've heard a family member say something along the lines of, "He's not dead yet, so I don't know why I'm sad all the time." So, I'm writing an article about how occupational therapists can (and should) address anticipatory grief in their treatment sessions with caregivers and family members of patients. Since that's going to be a research-heavy article, I'll probably write something quick and light afterward- maybe a flash fiction piece. 

WOW: I didn't even know that was a thing, but it makes perfect sense! I'm so thankful you shared that tidbit with us. On a somewhat related topic - does your wise current self 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? 

Alece:  I would say: "It's okay that you'll probably never publish a novel, just have fun writing about whatever you want on the scale that works for you at each stage of your life." 

WOW: Seems to me that this is solid advice; I hope your younger self heard you! You have a fun bio - tell us more about this balloon volleyball and your looking at things? 

Alece: I work with adults recovering from strokes, joint replacements, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, various surgeries, etc. and one area I typically address is dynamic balance. I have a lot of fun activities I whip out to challenge and improve patients' balance, one of which is balloon volleyball. I am absolutely not above trash-talking and playing dirty when it comes to balloon volleyball. 

In terms of "walking around looking at things," I suppose that really is my favorite thing to do. What's great about it is the variety- if I walk in nature I get to look at mountains and trees and animals; if I walk in a neighborhood I get to check out people's homes and yards; if I walk in a city I get to see neat architecture and interesting strangers; if I walk on a college campus I get to see all the college students hanging out or hurrying to class- you get the idea. I realize it sounds like I'm just describing the mundane concept of "going for a walk," and I guess I am, but sometimes you go for a walk for exercise, or you walk with a friend to chat and catch up, or you walk as a means of transportation. I like those types of walking too, but nothing beats having a spare hour or two and choosing to walk around and pointedly look at everything you can possibly see. 

WOW: You have such a great outlook - that positive attitude is a breath of fresh air!
What is your history with 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? 

Alece: This is the first writing contest I've ever entered. I love to write but I do it sporadically- when I have something to write about and the time to write. I wrote a short piece of fiction that I was pretty happy with, and was googling around for places to submit it when I stumbled on a listicle of "writing contests to enter in 2023," or something like that. I had never considered entering a writing contest before, but it sounded fun and I was shocked at how many writing contests exist! I wasn't able to find any contests for my fiction (it's too long for flash fiction but too short for...everything else), but I was hooked on the idea of entering a contest. Of all the sites I looked at, WOW felt the most welcoming- I just got such a great vibe from the website and mission. I spent the rest of the evening reading previous contest winners' essays and immediately knew I wanted to join their badass ranks!

WOW: AWE - we are so glad you joined us! Thank you ever so much Alece for sharing your essay and your thoughts today - we look forward to reading more of your work as you enter our future contests! Congratulations again! 

Interviewed by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto who just keeps on keeping on and can be found blogging and sharing on social media hashtag #raisingkidsandcattle

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