SmokeLong Quarterly

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Smoking With Patricia Parkinson

(Read the Story) August 15, 2004

Patricia Parkinson

Art by Marty D. Ison

How has writing changed your life?

This is a hard question. I don’t know if writing has really changed my life that much. I’ve always written to some extent, journals and the like, I’m a big letter writer, which I think is a lost art, but this, writing fiction, well, it’s very different. I would have to say that if there is one thing that has changed for me, is that the acceptance of my writing has made me feel validated as a person more than anything else I’ve done. Prior to doing this, I thought I was just some kind of weirdo walking around with these strange thoughts rolling around in my brain. When I started writing about these thoughts, people liked them. Now, I celebrate my uniqueness, rather than hide it…and that’s a great thing.

Lives become busy and often eat away at our writing time. How do you protect yours?

I write at night, when everyone is asleep. Sometimes well into the next morning, it’s my time and I cherish every minute of it. When I’m getting the kids ready for bed, I feel myself starting to get excited, because I know that soon, I’ll be able to spill my thoughts onto the screen. I write in bed, in the dark…and…I also write in the bathroom, which is kind of weird, but I’ve gotten used to it. I light candles and hang out on the potty, my Internet signal is stronger there and I’m too lays to haul my sorry butt down the stairs to the couch. Writing outside, in the dark, on a starry summer night… starry starry night. Great song, it’s the best, but I strongly recommend wearing a good mosquito repellent.

Stories with an erotic slant can be intimidating for some writers—any advice?

Well, I don’t know if what I write is so erotic. Life is erotic, if you want it to be, it depends on how you feel about things, how you look at things, eating an orange is erotic and reading about someone doing it, well, it can be more arousing than a graphic sex scene if it’s done properly. The only advice I can give, and my experience is quite limited, don’t write about something that makes you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, because it’ll show.

Flash as a form, can become addictive. Do you struggle to write longer pieces and do you thing short stories are easier to write?

I love writing flash. I love it! It’s soooo satisfying to write and to read. I think with the lifestyle that most people have today, flash will become more and more popular simply because people don’t have the time to read, which is a shame. I have found that some of my pieces are becoming longer and I have to struggle to keep it brief, I think the story tells you how long it wants to be, you just have to listen. The worst thing I think that we, as writers do, is limit ourselves, stop ourselves, every story has a natural end, and you just have to write it, worry about the word count later. The ability to tell a story in say, 500 words or less, is an amazing thing, totally.

Authors sometimes act out what their characters are doing as they work on a piece. Have you found this helpful, and do you find yourself getting into character in odd places throughout the day?

So funny, and sooo true. God, I wander around talking to myself allll the time, mimicking speech patterns, dialogue, studying body movements. It’s hilarious but I do have to admit that sometimes I get too into it, like if my character is sad, I’m sad—I can just sit there at the keyboard and cry and think the character is me, this is happening to me…it’s very draining at times. If the story is light and happy, like Gilda, which I’m so proud to have in your publication, well, let’s just say it works both ways. I must have been in a good zone that day. I sung that stupid song from the story a million times—it still makes me smile to think about it.

About the Author

Patricia Parkinson is the single mother of two children who make her laugh at herself and other things she once took too seriously. Her work has appeared in Words Writers Journal, The Vancouver Province and is upcoming in the Gator Springs Gazette.

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.

This interview appeared in Issue Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Five

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"Reading Your Work Like a Pro" with Farhana Khalique

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Are you nervous about reading your work aloud, or worried that you’ll ‘flatline’ or sound monotone? Join writer and voice over artist Farhana Khalique for this workshop, which includes tips on how to deal with nerves, how to ‘mark-up’ your story so it’s easier to read and hear, how to inject more energy and emotion into your performance, and more. We’ll also do writing and reading exercises to put the above into practice.