Writers on Writing interviews author Erin Wyble Newcomb

for author
Erin Wyble Newcomb

EC's The Emperor's New Clothes Issue will be out the last week of this month and to get ready for it, we're interviewing authors who have stories and poems in the upcoming issue. This time, we've asked Erin Wyble Newcomb some questions about her writing process. Look for her original poem, "Nude is the New Black," (an inventive twist on the Emperor's New Clothes idea) in the issue when it comes out.

1.  What fairy tale resonated the most with you growing up?
I’ve always been drawn to Little Red Riding Hood. There are so many versions of that story from cultures all over the world. It covers some essential elements of human development—finding a path in the world, identifying predators in our midst, learning to trust our instincts. It’s a story that seems so simple on its surface, but there are so many ways to re-imagine it, so many perspectives to consider. Maybe there’s a connection to my childhood of running on any forested trail I could find (a habit, like reading fairy tales, which I’ve maintained in adulthood). Anything can happen in the woods. That’s where we find our enemies as well as our courage.

Art by Warwick Goble

2.   Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
For me, this question feels hilarious. Between my writing and teaching, I work multiple jobs, but the majority of my day is spent caring for my daughters, whom I homeschool. At this point in my life, my children are my main priority, and my day is structured around them. Every day is different. By nature, I am a morning person who’d prefer to sit down with my coffee and my breakfast and my cat and not interact with other humans for a while. That’s just not my reality right now, so my writing is sprinkled throughout the day and the week. I struggle to write in the evenings, so I typically avoid that because I end up feeling frustrated and stuck; it’s just not a productive time for me. Unfortunately, in my life, “evening” feels like 7:30pm, so I’ve got to draft earlier in the day. Often, I use the evenings to read or talk with my husband about ideas and issues with my writing. The idea of having special time dedicated to writing feels like a tremendous privilege to me, but, then again, the time I get with my children is a privilege, too.

3.   Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I never start writing without an outline, at least in my mind. Much of my process is time spent ruminating; I think best on my feet (while I’m running or walking), and blank pages make me anxious, so I typically don’t sit down to write unless I’m ready to draft something. Then I always let that sit for at least a day, preferably more, so that I can return to it with fresh eyes and see where I want to edit and revise. I am trained as a writing teacher, and I really do follow the process that I encourage my students to follow. I want to be flexible about possibilities that arise during the actual drafting process, but, by and large, I am a girl with a plan.

READ "The House That Jack Built"
(a story by Erin that appeared in a previous issue of EC)
CLICK on the picture below:

You can find out more about
Erin Wyble Newcomb
at her website
PHD Mama
Follow her on
Twitter @ErinWyble

Interview by Amanda Bergloff


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