Interview with Bethany Jarmul, Q4 2023 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest Runner Up

Sunday, December 03, 2023
Bethany Jarmul is the author of two chapbooks and one poetry collection—This Strange and Wonderful Existence (poetry chapbook, Bottlecap Press, 2023), Take Me Home (nonfiction chapbook, Belle Point Press, 2024), and Lightning is a Mother (full-length poetry collection, ELJ Editions, 2025). Her writing was selected for Best Spiritual Literature 2023, nominated for Best of the Net and Wigleaf Top 50, and published in more than 70 magazines. Winning first place in Women on Writing’s 2022 Q2 essay contest gave her the confidence she needed to pursue her writing dreams. She lives near Pittsburgh with her husband and two toddlers. Connect with her at or on social media: @BethanyJarmul

---Interview by Marcia Peterson 

WOW: Congratulations on placing as a runner up in our Q4 2023 Creative Nonfiction contest! What inspired you to write your essay, “Lion’s Tooth in the Wind?”

Bethany: I wanted to write about infertility, but I wasn't sure if the story was still mine to write. I was a mother of two when I wrote the essay. However, my writing group encouraged me that the story was still mine to write.

WOW: How did your essay develop, both in your initial thinking about it and in the revision process?

Bethany: I knew I wanted to write about infertility, but I also wanted to write about something else as a metaphor, something in nature. I just wasn’t sure what. Then, I had the experience of teaching my son how to blow dandelion seeds and I knew it would be the perfect metaphor. So I wrote the main narrative and the dandelion sections together, researching as I wrote.

WOW: What tips would you offer writers who want to move into writing creative nonfiction but feel some fear about sharing personal stories?

Bethany: I would say don't feel pressured to write about something you don't feel comfortable sharing. But sometimes, getting something "out there" can be cathartic and empowering.

WOW: That's a good way to look at it. What are you reading right now, and why did you choose to read it?

Bethany: I'm reading Meander, Spiral, Explode by Jane Alison because I love writing craft books and I've heard great things about this one.

WOW: As we move into the end of the year and the holiday season, do you have writing goals you plan to accomplish? How do you approach this extra busy time?

Bethany: I've already accomplished a lot this year, including two chapbooks and a full-length poetry collection. So my plan for the holiday season is to give myself extra grace, read whatever interests me, and write when I want to (without any pressure to accomplish anything in particular.)



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