Interview with Rebecca L. Burford: Q4 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest Runner Up

Sunday, December 17, 2023
Rebecca’s Bio:
Rebecca (Becca) L. Burford, a retired grant writer, enjoys being a stay at home dog mom to Elroy, a 17-year-old mostly Beagle mutt. Becca loves the outdoors but only as long as the temperature stays above 50. Gardening and cooking and challenging herself to step out of her comfort zone (such as letting others read her writing) are her current hobbies. She and her wife Teresa have been married for 25 years in the eyes of the Lord and nine in the eyes of the law. Currently residing in Hagerstown, Maryland, they are avid Washington Nationals fans and season ticket holders.

If you haven't done so already, check out Becca's award-winning story "Waiting on Our Father" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Q4 2023 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing your essay and how did it and your writing processes evolve as you wrote? 

Becca: I have a file (ok – a fairly massive collection of files) on my computer called Random Thoughts. This collection began on legal pads way back in the mid-80s and has morphed over the years to the conglomeration it is today. Every once in a while, I visit these thoughts and think, that’s some good shit right there. I knew I wanted to write an essay for the WOW! Creative Non-Fiction Contest – but I had zero clues as to what I wanted to write. I combined two different “that’s some good shit” thoughts to jumpstart this essay. And I can’t wait to return to all of those thoughts and just keep writing. 

WOW: What an excellent idea to keep all of your ideas organized and waiting for just the right time to use them! What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Becca: About myself, I learned I have a lot I want to say but don’t really have the desire to say it out loud. Writing helps me scream it from the rooftops while remaining my same introverted awkward self. About my writing? It helped me realize I’ve still got it and if I don’t use it, it’s a total waste of a gift. Take it out, polish it, share it. It does no one (namely me) any good hidden away. 

WOW: Writing is an amazing outlet! And thanks so much for sharing your writing with us! What has prompted you to come out of your comfort zone to share your writing with others? Is there anything that helps you to feel more comfortable sharing your writing? 

Becca: My 63rd birthday is fast approaching. While I have every intention of living until at least 100, my time is definitely dwindling on this current plane. I have zero (good) reasons to be scared and all the best reasons to live out loud. I’m choosing the latter. The thing that helps me the absolute most in sharing my reading is the relative anonymity of it. I don’t/won’t make eye contact with someone while they’re reading my words. I can’t judge their judgement. I write it. And, I set it free. And I’m lighter and more energized for it. 

WOW: That sounds like a good approach to sharing your work. Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Becca: I adore good writing. It inspires me to be better, to do better and to write, better, I hope. I have always been a fiction reader and for the longest time, therefore, believed I was a fiction writer, even though very few of my Random Thoughts are fiction. Then, four years ago I read Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. I had no idea until I finished the book that it was non-fiction. I was blown away and my entire mind opened up to a new vision/version of reality and the writing about the phenomenon of truth. 

WOW: What a marvelous realization! I hope that continues to expand your writing practice. If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be? 

Becca: DO IT! Do it all the time. It will help you (that is me) unpack and unload and reevaluate and others might just catch a glimmer of their own self, their own joy, their own pain, their own journey, their own ownership because of it. You can be a helper without ever even knowing it and those positive vibrations make the universe a better place. 

WOW: Great advice! Anything else you’d like to add? 

Becca: YES! Thank you, WOW! First for the avenue, for the critiques – the first one that totally pissed me off because I could tell the critiquer did NOT get what I was attempting to say; old me (younger version) would’ve said f*ck it I’m out. But this newer (better) me refused to give up. I revised and recruited three readers (two of whom helped me immensely) and I tried again. The Q4 contest (this one we’re speaking of now) changed my life. I’m literally tearing up typing this. I was heard, I was seen, I was understood, I was validated. And I’m not only so grateful but I’m inspired to go further. Thank you, wonderful women of WOW! Thank you. Seriously: THANK YOU! 

WOW: We are so honored to be a part of your writing journey! Thank you for sharing your writing with us and for your thoughtful responses. Happy writing! 

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, founder and editor-in-chief of Sport Stories Press, which publishes sports books by, for, and about sportswomen and amateur athletes and offers developmental editing and ghostwriting services to partially fund the press. Engage on Twitter or Instagram @GreenMachine459.


Anonymous said...

Stunning. I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds after reading the last word. Thank you for sharing this.

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