Smoking With Theresa Boyar

Read the Story June 15, 2004

Your piece plays with the elements of storytelling. How did this story start for you?

I go through periodic bouts of obsession with logic problems and crossword puzzles and other word games. With logic problems, I always feel as if I’m being given these sketchy little story setups and I can’t stop myself from filling in chunks of missing info: backgrounds, accents, relationships, settings, etc. I think I’m also attracted to the whole “playing God” aspect of solving these things — it’s like writing, in a way. You create these little universes and you get to decide what everyone does, wears, buys, marries — you determine their fates. For a long time, I kept trying to write this piece as a poem and it didn’t go anywhere. It stayed in my “Poems That Should Never See Daylight” folder for two years. I’d tinker with it once in a while, but it just wasn’t what I wanted. Finally, I started to be a little more lenient with the form. When I rewrote it as a flash piece, I was able to find the ending I had been lacking and the whole thing finally felt like it was where I wanted it to be.

What aspect of writing do you find the most rewarding?

Without a doubt, the most rewarding moments are when I’m actually/physically creating and everything is coming together and flowing and making sense. This typically occurs midway between the I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-going-to-write phase and the Oh-my-God,-I-can’t-believe-I-wrote-that-and-actually-thought-it-was-good phase.

You’ve traveled a great deal in your life. Is this reflected in most of your characters?

I haven’t really traveled so much as uprooted and replanted myself, over and over again. I hadn’t given it much thought before, but I suppose most of my characters are actually derivations of people I knew growing up in a trailer park. Trailer parks are odd little microcosms and can be fertile ground for writers.

What story are you still trying to write?

Literally speaking, I have about a dozen unfinished short stories and a novel that I’ve been working on for some time. Practically speaking, I’m trying to write stories that will enable me to actually make some sort of living at it. But, if you’re asking the question in a more metaphysical vein, well, then you’ve pretty much stumped me. I think it goes back to the trailer park again, and a desire to tell the overlooked truths about some of the people who lived there.

Tell us more about your poetry and how it ties into your fiction writing.

I really believe that writing poetry and writing fiction require two completely different mindsets. I can never work in both genres on the same day – I just can’t clear those mental hurdles. That said, I do think my love of poetry has a way of grinding itself into my fiction. I tend to microscope things, examining stalled moments and looking for unusual or little-noticed connections.

About the Author:

Theresa Boyar lives in Helena, Montana, with her husband and two sons. Her short story "Random Girl" was a Notable Online Story of 2003 in storySouth's Million Writer's Award. Her poems, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Small Spiral Notebook, Eclectica, the Florida Review, Lynx Eye, Rattle, Ink Pot, Pierian Springs, and other print and online journals.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.