Thursday, October 22, 2015

What Are You Working On ... G. Elizabeth Kretchmer?

Today we have both an essay and an invitation from G. Elizabeth Kretchmer. I hope you can all join her Sunday afternoon!

G. Elizabeth Kretchmer has an MFA in Writing from Pacific University. Her short fiction, essays, and freelance work have appeared in the New York Times, High Desert Journal, Silk Road Review, SLAB, and other publications. When she’s not writing, she’s facilitating therapeutic and wellness writing workshops. You can learn more about her at Or better yet, join her at the Women on the Brink party this Sunday, October 25, at 4 pm at University Bookstore in Bellevue. Featuring contributing poets, UW actors, and Pearl and Stone Wine Co., this will be a one-of-a-kind launch party you won’t forget.
I used to think the writing life involved sitting in a rustic cabin at the edge of a Waldenish pond, thinking about life and making stuff up and writing it all down. Then I became a writer and realized that notion of the writing life was indeed pure fiction.

What have I been working on? For the last several months, it’s been marketing, marketing, marketing. I re-released my novel, The Damnable Legacy, in July, and I’m about to celebrate the launch of Women on the Brink at a party this Sunday. Which is all good, except I’m desperate to get back into the thinking and imagining and writing part.

I have, in fact, started my next project -- a novel set in the Yellowstone area. It’s predominantly contemporary but there will be a historical fiction component, dating back to the summer of 1877. (If you want to know what was so special about that year, Google it.)

As with my other work, this project will revolve around ordinary women facing life’s ordinary, and often unwelcome, obstacles. In real life, many of us harbor secret thoughts, fears, and resentments because society still requires that of us. We aren’t allowed to regret decisions of the past, or wonder aloud about our maternal angst, or admit that life isn’t all rosy under the covers. We post pictures on Facebook showing how happy we are and how many BFFs we have. We stifle our needs in part because we put others ahead of ourselves – that’s our nurturing nature – but in so doing we sometimes betray our authentic selves as we buy into the media’s (often male) representation of what being a woman should mean, rather than what it really does mean.

In my novel The Damnable Legacy, a woman still regrets the decision she made thirty years ago to place her daughter for adoption so she could selfishly follow her mountaineering dreams, but she cannot admit this mistake to anyone and must commit her thoughts only to her journal. Her story is not unusual; there are thousands of birthmothers in our country who hold their grief inside for the rest of their lives because they are told to move on.

My characters in Women on the Brink, a collection of short stories, wrestle with a variety of secrets and resentments, like husbands who expect them to be more perfect than they are or children who need more than their mothers can give. These women grieve their failed relationships with their sisters. They make difficult decisions for their aging mothers. They go through life’s motions until they no longer can.

So the truth of the matter is this: what I’m working on is not just another novel. What I’m working on is deciding which of the many universal issues of being a woman are most compelling for me, at this point in my life, and should thus be given a voice in my next novel.

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