Today’s brief Q&A is with Sara Walters, a contributor of creative nonfiction to the inaugural issue of Sugared Water. Her piece, “Kept,” was our first acceptance of CNF for the magazine.
Sara is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of South Florida, where she also teaches. She has a dachshund named Weasley and writes a lot of essays about dead people and pretty girls. She is still anxiously awaiting the arrival of her Hogwarts letter.
a little taste of “Kept” from SW#001:
No matter how much I search my closets, tear apart the boxes in my garage labeled with my name, dig into the drawers of my dresser, and overturn the bookshelves in my room, I will never find anything of Kevin’s.
I will not find a borrowed sweatshirt, draped over my shoulders at a football game in late October while we watched my brother play. I won’t find a necklace, a ring, a bracelet that had once hung from his neck, fit snugly on his finger, cuffed his wrist. I won’t find any wrinkled notebook paper with his barely readable print, promising in graphite and eraser dust that I was the only girl he ever loved… […]
There are no pieces of him for me to hold onto.
SW: What are you currently reading?
Sara W.: I’m reading a lot of young adult lit. I love writers like Sarah Dessen, John Green, David Levithan, and Rachel Cohn. As far as nonfiction goes, I really loved reading Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water.
SW: What are you working on now?
Sara W: This summer, I’ve started working on what I hope will become my MFA thesis. It’s a weird, disjointed, screwed up look at my shitty experiences in the world of relationships and sexuality, and although that sounds really overdone, I’m hoping my take on things will not necessarily be “new” or anything, but just extremely accessible and easy for a lot of women and men in my generation to connect with.
SW: What writers/works have inspired you?
Sara W: Truthfully, the writers I work with here in my MFA program at the University of South Florida never cease to supply me with endless inspiration. This is such an incredible group of human beings. They’re all so perfectly weird, and both broken and whole all at once. They are always reminding me with their writing and their companionship that this world is not the black hole of impending and inevitable oblivion that it often feels like.
SW: Where do you seek inspiration?
Sara W: People. Places. Things. Nouns, in general.
SW: Would you talk a bit about your writing process?
Sara W: It generally starts with a lot of self-loathing, and ends similarly. Somewhere in between, I write some words that sound at least okay, and then I take those semi-okay words to my mentor, Ira Sukrungruang. He tells me what words are better than okay and how to make the less okay ones more okay. I send them out to magazines. Sometimes, amazing publications like Sugared Water pick them up and publish them, and I feel a very strange and beautiful ache in my heart knowing that I just gave away pieces of myself to perfect strangers. I only hope that my okay words make those who read them feel a similar strange and beautiful ache.
SW: With what are you obsessed?
Sara W: My dog, Weasley. Chapstick. Instagram. Alysha Nett. Tattoos. Obscene shades of nail polish. Hypothetical situations.