Author Iris Graville
A mini interview
Iris Graville is a fascinating person who is currently writing a memoir about her experiences in a tiny village in central Washington in the north Cascade Mountains. She is now living on Lopez Island (one of the San Juan Islands of Washington State) where winters are mild with about one snow a year. This is an ideal place to write, kayak and get fresh crabs.
Iris, tell us why and what you write.
I am a nurse and have always relished listening to the stories of patients. I knew my listening supported healing; it also fed my love of narrative. Now, I write to give voice to the untold stories of ordinary people: homesteaders in Mexico, hurricane survivors in Nicaragua, senior citizens in my rural community, and in my first book, Hands at Work those who work with their hands.
Tell us about your writing corner or place of writing
Two years ago I claimed my grown son’s former bedroom for my writing space. One entire wall is covered in cork-board where I thumbtack notices about writing contests and submission guidelines, a growing stack of rejection letters, and large newsprint sheets plotting the story arc and outline for my memoir. Most weekdays, I’m at my desk by 10 am, bathed in the light of my laptop computer screen. By then I’ve had my morning coffee, cleaned up the kitchen, tossed a load of laundry in the washing machine, walked my German shepherd/yellow lab, and read some writing I admire.
Wow. You get moving early… tell us more.
Mid-morning is my most creative time, so that’s when I tackle the stage of writing I find most difficult—first drafts. Once I get SOMEthing tapped out on the keyboard, I reward myself with the fun of revising and crafting. I live on a rural island and commute by ferry to another island two days a week to work as a school nurse. I pack my laptop and use the half hour sailing each way to revise and edit; the time limit seems to embolden me to excise the extraneous.
That’s special. What about the MFA program?
I’ve just completed my first year of the MFA in Creative Writing program of Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Last semester I tried some new forms in my nonfiction workshop including an opinion piece about immunizations that was published in several local newspapers (http://www.islandssounder.com/opinion/155424045.html). I also drafted three chapters of my memoir-in-progress, Hiking Naked—A Quaker Woman’s Search for Balance. This personal narrative details what I learned in the remote mountain village of Stehekin, WA about work, community, and my spiritual path (as well as dealing with six feet of snow in the winter, ordering groceries by mail, and living without a telephone). An excerpt was published in SHARK REEF Literary Magazine (Issue 18, Summer 2011); that piece was accepted before my independent press, Heron Moon Press, assumed the role of SHARK REEF publisher. I also blog about Quakerism and my spiritual journey at http://bloggerbyconvincement.blogspot.com/
Inspiration comes most when I listen—to the wind, the water, people’s stories. Deadlines help, too.
Check out Iris’s books and her lovely website. Thanks Iris.