V. Gregan is the winner of the Story in Verse Contest, has been a member of Figment since December, and is the author of many well-loved poems and stories on Figment (check out Guilt and Bridges, for starters) . She took the time to answer some interview questions for us, so enjoy!
1. Tell us about your inspiration for Getting Away, which won the Story in Verse Contest (congrats, by the way!).
I’ve always thought about running away. Maybe I’d come home from school after having a bad day and before I’d know it, I’d be fantasizing about leaving, seeing a little more of the world. But, of course, I can’t leave my family or friends, or even this town I’ve grown up in. So I started to wonder, what would make someone want to leave all that? Ever since then the idea’s been in the back of my head. But one night I was conjugating verbs for French after having a really awful day and I thought to myself, as a joke, “Maybe I should just leave everything and run away to France.” I laughed a little and went back to studying. But before I knew it, I was sitting at the computer, writing.
2. What do you think are the challenges of stories in verse? Or the benefits?
With stories in verse, you always have to be careful with the plot. Poetry can get so involved with the character’s thoughts and emotions that it’s very easy to lose track of the story. But that’s also what’s so great: the freedom of just staying in the character’s head, focusing more on the adjectives and less on the nouns and verbs.
3. What’s the one book you would take to a deserted island to read forever?
I’m torn between The Selected Poems of John Keats, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. The first because Keats writes in so many different styles, the second because I love the way Sherlock explains how he solved the case, and the third because I’d want a book that could make me laugh and cry.
4. Where is your favorite place to write? What media do you use to write?
I write in a lot of different places. Beds, airplanes, the beach, in the middle of nowhere, on the floor, in the bathtub….. Mostly I write poetry in notebooks and short stories on the computer. I have had to resort to napkins, paper towels, and business cards before, though. Whenever inspiration strikes, right?
5. You’ve been on Figment for six months now. Did it take you a while to share your stories or did you jump in with both feet? Do you think it’s hard for writers to share their work?
For the first month on Figment, I just published poems, because that was all I felt I could write. It was terrifying for me, showing something I’d written in prose. I’d tried to get several different short stories published and had been rejected. But in the end I wanted to see if anyone besides my dad would read anything I’d written, so I just sort of jumped in. And now I can’t stop.
6. You mention on your profile that your favorite place to read no longer exists. Where was it and why does it no longer exist?
For as long as I can remember, my family has had this hammock. My house is the size of a matchbox, and my bedroom has no privacy at all. Usually it doesn’t bother me that much, but whenever I got stir-crazy I went out to the backyard and read on the hammock. It wasn’t the ideal reading spot (the sun was always in my eyes) but it was in a corner of the yard not visible from the house and if I got tired of my book, I could just lie back and stare at the sky. But over the summer my friends and I were messing around and the hammock fell, right underneath me! And then the tree it was hanging from got a disease and we had to cut it down. I miss it a lot, but my dad is talking about planting a new tree, so maybe there’s still hope?
7. What’s your go-to fix for writer’s block?
I go out to my backyard and jump on the trampoline. Despite not being a particularly athletic person, exercise has always helped me think. And if that doesn’t work, I just move on. For me, writer’s block comes when I’m forcing myself to write.
8. Dream job?
I know I’m supposed to say something like “the next J.K. Rowling,” but I think I’d be happier as a kindergarten teacher.