Figmenter, Lightly Grilled: Cara Olsen

I recently sat down with Cara Olsen, winner of the Modern Fairy Tale Contest with Jackson Pearce, to discuss her win, her blog, and other random things.

1. I love your blog – it has such a playful tone to it (I especially loved “How To Know If You’re Married To A Writer”). What inspired you to create a blog, and is writing for a blog more challenging than writing a story or poem?

The inauguration of “i wryte prettie” is mildly serendipitous. It happened around 3 in the morning while reading one of my favorite books. All day I’d had this idea percolating in my mind, but nothing solidified. All of a sudden it came together: The header, the purpose, and the vision for it. The whole story and idea behind it is commemorated on the blog under “Why i wryte prettie.”

In regards to a blog being easier or more difficult to write, in my opinion, that depends solely on what you’re writing about. Some use theirs as a means for updating family and friends, some just need an outlet to vent about the rigors of writing, some self-publishing phenoms use theirs for promotion of their work, and some put considerable thought and intentionality into it. For me, it’s a mixture of all of the above. Mainly, though, my desire is to write posts about the absurd neuroses we as writers experience on a daily basis and laugh at them. I do this because laughter and sobbing walk together on a fine line, and if you don’t make a choice, chances are you’ll end up sobbing.

2. Your Fairy Tale Contest entry, “Don’t Toy with My Emotions,” took a really interesting take on fairy tales. I particularly felt bad for Pinocchio. What inspired this lovely twist?

Like most of my short stories, “Don’t Toy With My Emotions” was lightly molded, and soon took on a shape of its own. I am not—repeat, not—one of those writers with crystal clear vision. I am highly ambivalent. Of all my idiosyncrasies, that could possibly be the one I loathe most. Essentially, that is why I wrote the story the way I did. We all have that “thing” about ourselves we wish we could change and do away with. Sometimes it’s physical, sometimes innate. I wanted Pinocchio to reconcile with himself, and make peace with his nose. We, as flawed individuals, have a choice: we can either lament and complain about every weird trait, feature, and characteristic we hate about ourselves, or we can accept it, and find the good in it. Pinocchio did that. I am still learning.

3. Have you ever felt unsure about sharing your writing on Figment, or any other place? How did you overcome this?

I can remember being slightly hesitant at first. Any time you’re sharing personal thoughts, or a story that is as real to you as your fingers, it’s difficult to brave the fray. Figment, from what I have experienced, is a warm place, filled mostly with people who want to enjoy your work and have you do the same in return. Occasionally you get a heckler visiting your page that wants to squawk a bit and flap his clipped, jaded wings, but beware, Figmenters are a loyal brood, and should you cross the line, prepare to incur the wrath.

4. So…how does it feel to have won a Figment contest???

Answer: I must say. . . it does feel pretty darn fantastic. In fact, it feels so good that I may just have to go to Disneyland 🙂

5. Do you have any method or ritual in preparing to write something, especially something like “Painful Acquisitions”?

I had awful writer’s block the day I wrote “Painful Acquisitions”. I literally darkened the room, turned on the most melancholy music I could find, and sobbed out that poem. You could say I have a flair for the dramatic. Looking back, I’m a little embarrassed. Of all of my poems, it’s my least favorite, but a few people have found solace, and that’s reason enough for me to keep it up there.

6. You’re in the middle of writing a poem or story, and you suddenly hit a snag – what do you do to overcome this?

Okay, so I don’t know what super writers you have interviewed in the past, but I hit a snag every stinkin’ day. I do one of five things when this happens:

1. Intimidate the computer with excessive brow furrowing.
2. Bargain with my brain. “If you give me one good page of writing, I’ll let you take a nap.”
3. Complain to my husband that being a writer is the hardest, most difficult-est job in the universe. (Yes, this includes those dudes who spend months in the arctic tundra, freezing, starving, and surviving off questionable food resources, all the while trying to document the emerging of baby polar bears form their cave after a seven month hibernation. I could totally do that.)
4. Take my chihuahua, a bag of pita chips, a book, and escape to bed.
5. Have a tantrum.

Eventually, I find a solution to the problem. Or sometimes I just start another book. Either one. 🙂

7. If you could meet any literary character and spend the day with him/her, what would you do?

This question is all too convicting; however, I feel like it will come up again and I MUST be able to give an answer. Since I am married, I can nix all the heart-throbs. Sorry Edward, Jace, Mr. Darcy, Peeta . . . I know you will all be so very disappointed. All this stalling and I still haven’t found an answer. Okay. I am going with Willy Wonka. Why? Because a substantial amount of my income goes to all things sugary, gummy, sour, and sweet. Plus, he owns a flying elevator. Need I say more?

8 thoughts on “Figmenter, Lightly Grilled: Cara Olsen

    • Kim, you are too kind. 🙂 As the author of literary treats such as Birdcage Girl and Flour House, (and many others I have yet to read!) I can say that means a great deal to me!

  1. Lady Cara keeps me interested thru the entire interview as does her poems and stories!! She has a great honest outlook on life! Looove her!

    • Thank you, Kristin!

      Truthfully, I am a sucker for those wildness shows. My well of admiration for anyone who can sleep in trees, travel in -36 weather, or eat sheep eyeballs, runs far and deep. I happen to be the world’s biggest wuss when it comes to bugs, camping, and anything remotely archaic. If I need to experience the outdoors, well, then I’ll write about it. 🙂

      Man vs. Wild is one of my favorites — especially when they take celebrities with them. Will Ferrell was one of the funniest episodes I ever saw. If you haven’t seen it, you MUST YouTube. This week, Jake Gyllenhal will be on the show. My watching will have absolutely nothing to do with his hunkiness 🙂

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