Interview With Ann Frawley Fiegen, Runner Up in the Quarter One 2024 Nonfiction Essay Contest

Saturday, March 02, 2024
Congratulations to Ann Frawley Fiegen of Evanston, Illinois and The Plum Pie Lady, Paula and Me - and to all of the other contestants and winners of the WOW! Women on Writing Quarter 1 2024 Essay Contest! 

Today I'm excited to interview Ann Frawley Fiegen, runner up in the Quarter One WOW! Nonfiction Essay Contest. Before we get to our interview, make sure you check out her essay, The Plum Pie Lady, Paula and Me, first. Then come on back! But first, here's a bit about Ann Frawley Fiegen: 

Ann Frawley Fiegen is a happily retired mother of three, grandmother of six, who at long last has the time to write at will. She writes primarily memoir to serve as legacy for her grandchildren so that they can one day know a bit of who she was apart from her role as their GiGi, and occasionally a bit of poetry to satisfy her soul.

 …………..interview by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto 

WOW: Thank you Ann for taking time to sit down and chat with me today - our WOW! Readers will most definitely enjoy learning more about you and your craft. Congratulations on being one of the Runners Up in the 2024 Quarter One Nonfiction Essay Contest! Let’s get right down to it. You wrote such a touching and personal essay - what is the take-away you'd like readers to gain from The Plum Pie Lady, Paula, and Me

ANN: When my beautiful friend died, I was devastated. The tapestry of our lives was woven together so tightly that I couldn't imagine my life without her. Writing the piece was cathartic for me. It allowed me the opportunity to share an idea of who she was with everyone who might one day read it. We women are able to form friendships the breadth and depth of which surpasses those formed by men. It is a special gift that we share, and one for which we all need to be grateful. It is my hope that anyone who reads this piece comes away with an increased awareness of this gift as well as with a glimpse of the beautiful person who was my friend. Our friendship was too precious to me to be able to let it go. By writing this piece I didn't have to. 

WOW: Dearest Ann - I think you said that so eloquently. As women, friendships become so deep and important. Thank you for sharing a bit of your friendship and your friend with us. Friends and support are/is important regardless of our craft, but as writers, something else that’s important is journaling and writer’s groups so let me ask, have either of these things (along with strong friendships) played a role in your life and your craft?
ANN: I belong to two writers' groups, and believe that they are vital to my growth and development as a writer. We writers are a strange group. We often see things differently than the rest of the world, and sharing time and space with those who share our passion is priceless. One of my groups has open membership so we are constantly meeting new writers and sharing in their work. Membership in the other group is constant. We have been together for several years and have become quite familiar with our individual strengths and weaknesses. Both groups are supportive and nurturing and provide invaluable critiques that serve to enhance our work. As an added bonus, both groups have self-published collections of our memoir, fiction and poetry. 

WOW: Open membership - I love that! You are absolutely right, we are an odd group - I don’t know many groups who would be open to this next (very weird) question, but I know you’ll have a great answer: Do you 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? 

ANN: If somehow I were given the opportunity to address my younger self, I would tell her to care more about living her life to the fullest rather than being so concerned about what others think. Women my age were made to place too much importance on the opinions of others. Our inordinate concern for what people might think of our actions often precluded our living our best, most authentic lives. I sometimes wonder what we might have accomplished as a generation of women had we been encouraged to be all that we could be without being concerned about the opinions of others. 

 WOW: That’s the very advice I give to my children - I love it! Speaking on not being concerned about others - I find that my writing space looks very different than what may have been thought a typical writing space a generation ago. What about you? Where do you write and what does your space look like? 

ANN: I really don't have a writing space. My process precludes it. It all begins with an idea that rattles around in my head for some time before I actually put pen to paper. A title might come to me, or maybe a sentence that I like, or a memory that I want to share. When this happens, I make notes on whatever is available, be it a paper napkin, the back of an envelope or store receipt, or ideally a small notebook that has somehow found its way into my purse. When I feel I have enough material, I gather my scribbled notes and sit down in the first place available and write the piece (usually in one sitting). There was a time when I tried to be more organized about my writing. I cleared off a desk, unwrapped a yellow legal pad, sharpened some pencils, lit a candle, and pretended I was Emily Dickinson. After what seemed like a very long time of sitting there without producing a single word, I blew out the candle and reverted to my old ways. Admittedly this is far from ideal, but it works for me. 

WOW: Your space may be far from ideal (in your own words), but it’s working - roll with it! As our time comes to a close, I have to ask: What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for 2024 and beyond? 

ANN: My writing goal at this point in my life is to create a body of work to serve as a legacy for my grandchildren. I have had the privilege of having them close to me from the time each of them was born, and have been gifted with a wealth of time shared with them over the years. I am proud to be their GiGi, and treasure that role that I have played and continue to play in their lives. It is also important to me that they know a bit of who I was and am in addition to being their grandmother, and hopefully this goal will be accomplished by their one day reading my work. 

 WOW: What a lovely gift for your family - I absolutely love this so much! Thank you again for your submission, your honesty, and your time. Congratulations on being one of our runner ups and we certainly look forward to reading more from you in the future! 

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

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