Interview with Tracy Adrian Runner Up in the WOW! Quarter 3 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest with "Chains"

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Congratulations to Tracy Adrian and Chains, and to all of the other contestants and winners of the WOW! Women on Writing Quarter 2 2023 Essay Contest!

Tracy's Bio: 
Originally from Minneapolis, Tracy moved to Southern Nevada in 1986, where she’s had many adventures and misadventures. I... I mean ‘she,’ is passionate about aviation, her blessing of an inner circle, helping her clients make smart real estate deals, and long walks under the desert moon. For the past several years, reading and writing creative nonfiction have become her most trusted vehicles for sorting out what it all means and exorcising some demons along the way.

*****interview by Crystal J Casavant-Otto*****
WOW:  I hope everyone has already read Chains and if not I recommend giving it a read and then returning here for our interview! Thank you for writing this essay. I am going to step back and start with your bio though - it's impressive! YOU are impressive! What made you passionate about aviation? Where did you get your start?
Tracy:   Growing up in a pretty chaotic and mostly poor environment, I never knew a pilot. I never knew that was even a possibility for someone like me. In this essay I refer to my first ever air show at a military base, but there was one civilian aircraft that did an amazing routine. Well when the plane taxied up this petite woman with this dark beautiful wild hair jumped out, and that was the first time I thought, someone like me can do this. BTW, her name is Patty Wagstaff, and she is a multiple-time world aerobatic champion. I actually met her (appropriately star struck) about 15 years later through a mutual friend and we traded outfits in a bathroom stall after an air show in Arizona. I gave her my favorite pair of overalls and I still have her cherished flight suit hanging in my closet. But that’s a whole other story.
Patty Wagstaff

WOW:  That's an amazing story! I love women empowering women - thank you for sharing this part of your story! I'm glad I asked - but I guess I better get back on topic - what does your writing space look like? If you say it's the cockpit of a plane I'll absolutely die...

Tracy: You’re going to laugh. Elizabeth Simms wrote about the importance of having a garret, or a hideaway where you won’t be interrupted, in which to create. My Garret is sitting in my car in the parking lot after I pick up my morning coffee. On special occasions I park at the airport or overlooking my city. I dictate into my Notes app and later send it to myself to print and edit. Oh, also when I go walking at night, I often sit down on a curb under a street light and talk into my phone. I’m sure I look like a crazy person. I am in the parking lot currently.
 WOW: Shut the front door - I did NOT see that coming! As a mother of 6 and work-a-holic, I promise I also spend a lot of time in my vhicle...but mine is a mom van. I get it and I don't think you're crazy at all! What's next for you? Summer is winding down, but there's a lot of 2023 left. What's your writing plan?

Tracy: I’m going to continue writing essays for the WOW contest because I absolutely feel the value in the practice, the feedback, and validation. I started writing so late in life and I think this is a safe place to learn how to express myself in a way that works. Long-term, I would like to write my own memoir. Wow, even saying that out loud sounds ridiculous because I’m so new on this journey. But if I’m honest, that’s what my end goal is. I spent so many years living this crazy life and now I want to write about it. Even if no one ever reads it besides me, because writing is the only way I know to make sense of a lot of things.
 WOW: You just made my heart happy and look forward to reading much more from you! The making sense of things is how I feel about journaling; during difficult times it helps me to put my words down to help my brain take a step back. Does journaling have a role in your life as well? 

Tracy: A few years ago, I became interested in writing when it seemed as though I was surrounded by writers. My husband had recently retired and gotten his MFA and another friend of ours, an author and English professor, suggested I might like to try a Small Steps writing workshop. Well, it was absolutely life-changing. That was the most nurturing and supportive group of women you could imagine, and even though what I wrote, especially in the beginning, was pretty awful, they always found some positive morsel to point out. 

Also, it was just the act of putting a personal experience out to a bunch of strangers and sort of breaking that ice that was invaluable. That first time I posted was incredibly terrifying. I mean my stomach felt queasy. Of course it gets easier as time goes on and you realize what you’re writing is not that precious or that big of a deal to anyone other than you. That helps a lot. I made a few writer friends in that group that I’m still in touch with. Isn’t that beautiful? And I learned how much I love to read non-fiction from other women who are taking risks and putting their authentic selves out there. What I found is that it’s not writing something perfectly that connects with me as a reader as much as writing something real. And that’s what artists have known since the beginning of time, but I am just now discovering in my 50’s.

WOW: That's such a great positive experience - thank you for sharing! One last question as our time comes to a close; I hope you don't mind my sharing how excited you were when I contacted you about today's interview... your enthusiasm was contagious! Was this your first contest, what is your history with contests? How did you chose this one? What would you tell others about entering writing contests?

Tracy: My friend recommended this contest and what I love so much about it is that we are women writing for other women, and trust me, I have submitted some pretty crappy attempts, and the feedback is gently honest. I have no formal education and this feels like a venue I can grow in. 

I was unbelievably thrilled the first time I had a submission make it to the second round, but being selected as a runner up… I can’t tell you what a huge deal it was for me. I mean, of course my husband and friends are going to say they love my work, but having someone that I don’t know validate my writing for the first time…huge. 

I would tell other writers (and tell myself), that when you think your piece is ready to submit, give it a few days on the shelf and then come back and look with fresh eyes. All those tiny typos or redundancies will jump out so you can fix them before you hit send. And write something so personal you feel your eyes tear up until you can’t see the page anymore. That will probably resonate with someone.

WOW: Thank you ever so much Tracy 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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