Welcome to the final installment of an interview with Kristen Falso-Capaldi.
VAH: What does it mean to you to have been selected as the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize winner this year?
KFC: I am beyond excited to be the recipient of this year’s Emerging Writer Prize. It means so much to me to be recognized for my writing ability and to be able to attend one of the best writer’s conferences in the country.
VAH: Any goals for the conference?
KFC: I’d love to find an agent for my novel, but I’ll feel fulfilled with advice and critique on my pitch and the first page of my manuscript.
VAH: Kristen it was great meeting you at the conference. I hope it the experience was all you hoped for and you have good luck with the agents you spoke with.
Let’d get back to writing. When the page is blank what gets you writing?
KFC: Sometimes there is nothing scarier than a blank page; that said, I just write. It’s like jumping into the ocean when I first get to the beach. If I think about it too much, I’ll never get to ride the waves. I just jump in and write without worrying too much about where the story is going. I know from past experience that I will end up with a messy first draft that I can then edit into something I’m not embarrassed to show to someone else.
VAH: What is your “process” when working on a new piece of writing?
KFC: I often just think of a first line and start writing. I very rarely outline, though I sometimes make notes about where the story is going if I get a brainstorm and have to stop for the day. I try not to abandon stories, though I might work on two pieces at once (usually different genres, like a screenplay and a short story). If I hit a spot of writer’s block, I try to write through it or jump to another piece I’m working on.
VAH: Do you have a submission system or plan?
KFC: I try to send as much of my work into the universe as I can. I send my stories to literary journals and contests, and I’m currently pitching my novel to agents. One of my students told me recently that she doesn’t enter contests because it makes her sad when she doesn’t win. Sure, you can’t fail if you don’t try, but you can’t succeed either.
VAH: What does your typical writing day include?
KFC: I get up every morning at 5:00 a.m., feed my cat, Scout, and feed myself, then I sit down and write for about 45 minutes before I have to get ready for work. I often don’t get time to write again till the following morning, so I try not to fret too much about what I’m writing – I just get the words out. It may not seem like a lot of time, but in a year and a half, I’ve written a generous handful of flash fiction, two screenplays, seven short stories, a final draft of a novel and a first draft of a new novel.
VAH: What words of wisdom do you have for the emerging writer?
KFC: Make writing a priority. This is something I didn’t do for many years, and it’s no surprise I got very little accomplished. Once it became important to me, I saw a huge change in both my craft and my confidence. Another piece of advice I’d give is to experiment with various genres. This is something I tell my high school creative writing students. For example, poetry and flash fiction teach us to be powerful in a small amount of words, script writing helps us focus on dialogue and visualize movement, and memoirs are great for helping us find pearls of truth buried in the subconscious.
VAH: Thanks Kristen for taking time out of your busy schedule for Three by Five.
Find Kristen on:
“ You always stop writing eventually,” my inner voice said. “Wouldn’t you rather make cheese…I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.”
Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer and lyricist for a folk/acoustic duo Kristen & J, she has finished a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which was an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her micro-fiction pieces have received accolades in various contests. Kristen lives in a small town in northern Rhode Island with her husband and cat.
Three by Five publishes on the days that end in three.