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Interview with Lynn Nicholas: WOW! Q3 2022 Creative Nonfiction Contest Runner Up


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Lynn’s Bio:
Lynn began exploring creative writing after her retirement from technical editing. Her first novel, Dancing Between the Beats, debuted in December 2019, the year she turned seventy. Lynn’s short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and personal essays tend to be character driven. Publication credits include Flash Fiction Magazine, Every Day Fiction, SandScript Arts & Literary Magazine, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and The Storyteller, among others. She is an active member of Sisters in Crime and the Society of Southwestern Authors. Lynn continues to refine her writing skills through both online and in-person classes, which include a semester-long project on the editorial team for Pima Community College’s award-wining arts and literature magazine. She shares her off-center take on life via posts on her blog, "The View From My Window." Lynn lacks even the most basic of mechanical skills but has a gift for creativity. She paints with watercolors, draws, enjoys photography, maintains an English-style garden in the desert, and enjoys decorating. She also connects with animals on an instinctive level. Please visit her at www.lynnnicholaswrites.com. 

If you haven't done so already, check out Lynn's award-winning story "The Gathering Storm" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Q3 2022 Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing your essay and how did it and your writing processes evolve as you wrote? 

Lynn: This essay took shape very quickly, which isn’t my usual process. It was a gut-level emotional response to the breaking story of the war in Ukraine. I was literally on the couch, watching the news as an unexpected winter storm rolled in. The temperature dropped enough to light a fire in the fireplace (remember, this is Tucson, AZ), the wind blasted rain at the windows, and my spirits sank in direct proportion to the gathering darkness outside and newscast of the worsening conditions in Ukraine. My thoughts and emotions were in a muddy muddle, and writing is how I sort out my feelings. Putting words to paper helps me gain clarity. I honestly can’t remember if I began to jot notes down that night or the next day, when sitting at my desktop. I do remember reviewing the newscasts so I could insert the quotes accurately and word for word. 

WOW: What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay? 

Lynn: When I work from an emotional base, when it comes from my gut, the thoughts flow to the page. This is a completely different process than the write/edit/revise/rethink of trying to work up a story. The stories I write are usually character-driven and reflect the characters’ voices and thoughts. They are written to entertain; my essays (and poetry) reveal more of the true me, which I’m not always comfortable sharing. I think writing “The Gathering Storm” brought this realization to the forefront. I’d never analyzed my process before. 

It also hit me that the breaking news that evening was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I’d hit the saturation point from being inundated with everything negative that’s happened in this country over the past few years, including the effects of the COVID shutdown. For me it’s been overwhelming. For perspective, I am a true child of the 60s, an Aquarian humanitarian who truly believed that by the time I hit the age I am now (73), humanity would have evolved beyond war. I find our current state of affairs deeply disheartening. 

WOW: Thank you for sharing this insight into your writing process and emotional base, and how the two work together for you to create. I see in your bio that you published your first novel the year after you turned 70! What was your transition from technical editing to creative writing like? Had you done any creative writing prior to retirement? 

Lynn: It’s been a fun and challenging evolution. I’ve always loved to write, whether for a college research paper, personal correspondence in the days of real letter writing, or a punchy letter to the editor. Around 2006, I began blogging on Live Journal, which I found to be very satisfying. In 2008 an aspiring young writer told me about NaNoWriMo. Of course, I jumped right in and wrote my first draft novel of about 53K words. My husband had it hardbound for a Valentine’s Day gift! How’s that for supportive? Soon after that I discovered flash fiction and began to write and submit stories here and there. I had a few successes but most were pretty awful. Then in 2009 I participated in NaNo again, creating my second draft novel of 50K+ words. It was my 2011 NaNo draft that evolved into my first real novel. I began to revise it in earnest during a special-projects writing class I took at the local community college in 2014. The novel was published in December of 2019. I’ve since taken more classes and hope to continue to learn and grow as a writer. 

WOW: I love hearing how much NaNoWriMo inspired your writing efforts for your novels and flash fiction. Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you? 

Lynn: Annie Dillard’s writing, her non-fiction writing on the natural world, is beyond inspiring to me, and I know better than to aspire to create work on her level. And then there’s Joan Didion, who said she writes as a way to discover the meaning behind what she is seeing. I think that sums it up for me. 

WOW: If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be? 

Lynn: Your perspective matters. Your voice matters. Be observant and don’t be afraid to write what you see. Put your work out there and, while you should try to learn from rejections and critiques, also remember that sometimes an editor just doesn’t “get you.” Accept that and move on. 

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

Lynn: I want to thank WOW!, not just for an outstanding forum to publish one’s work, but for the opportunity to learn from both the articles and classes on WOW!, from the critiques, and from reading the work of the excellent writers who share their writing via your contests. Everyone on staff at WOW! are the real winners. 

WOW: Thank you so much for your kind words, Lynn! We’re thankful to have you as part of the WOW! Community. 


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. Connect on Twitter or Instagram @greenmachine459.

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