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True Stories Told Well: Tricia Lott Williford

Handwriting, hand writes with a pen in a notebook

Recently, FaithHappenings featured my writing in their Author Spotlight.
Here’s my
interview with a splash of personality.

What do you love to write and what inspired you to start?

I love true stories told well, so my favorite genre is creative nonfiction.TR_118

I tend to lean into real-life moments and do two things with them: dissect big emotions, giant gestures and grand scenes into small glimpses, little pieces, and memorable phrases to hold onto; and unfold fleeting moments, passing glances, and seconds of time into the enormous greatness that makes the pieces of a life.

How and where do you write?

Anywhere I can find free WiFi and generous refills of diet Coke.  I’m definitely not too proud to tell you I spend a lot of time at McDonalds, but right now, this very minute, I’m at Arby’s.  Apparently I’m inspired by french fries.

Where do you find inspiration?

Smart women.  Diet Coke.  Lip gloss.  The way a great coffee mug fits in my hand.  Aside from those nonnegotiables, I’m inspired by great writing.  In his book Steal Like An Artist, Austin Kleon taught me that the best way to jumpstart your creativity is to dive into the work someone else has already created.  It’s amazing how many great paragraphs can be born from the sentence someone else has written. 

What are you reading now?

So many things, as always. 

I just finished A Grown-up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson, which is the most pitch-perfect writing, and now I’m reading The Sparrow, by Mary Dora Russell, a stretch into science fiction in this book about a Jesuit priest on a mission to another planet.  Not my usual genre, for sure, and yet so freaking good.

I’m also reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, because she makes me feel brave; The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis in preparation for a singles’ retreat I’m speaking at this fall; The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg, the queen bee of writing memoir; The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie O’Martian; and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling at bedtime with my boys.

What was the last book that kept you up all night reading?

A Grown-up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson.  Honestly, I lose sleep over all of her books.  She’s pure brilliance on a page.

What fills your tank and what wears you out?

I’ve surprised myself by morphing into an introvert in the last five years, a change born of the trauma of losing my husband.  I need lots of margin in my life, acres of space to be alone and quiet.  I’m most fueled by a day with my laptop, journals, books, and Bible.

I’m worn out by small talk that’s going nowhere.  It drains me so quickly… I can literally feel myself wilting like a tulip in a vase. 

Also the bickering of my children… it makes me feel like I’m being nibbled to death by a duck. 

Who has inspired you most?

Anne Lamott and Natalie Goldberg.  In my opinion, they’ve cornered the market with their methods for teaching the art of gripping, honest memoir.

Talk about mentoring and the creative process.

There are many people who’ve mentored me without knowing it at all.  I’ve leaned hard into the works of authors I love – Marisa de los Santos, Elizabeth Berg, Joshilyn Jackson, Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott – to study their methods, style, how their work has changed over the years, and who they have learned from in their own writing.  I want to do what they do, in my own way.

Some writers are afraid to read other authors’ works while they’re creating something new for fear that the author’s voice will show up in their own writing.  I tend to think just the opposite – if someone reads my work and it reminds them of one of the true greats who wrote before me, then what a compliment to everyone involved.  It’s not plagiarism; it’s the ongoing give and take of artists.  There’s nothing truly new in the industry, and we steal from each other all the time. It’s one great big endless dialogue of compliments and flattery.

What films do you love and would watch again and again?

I think I’ll never get quite enough of Meryl Streep, Sally Field, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, and Diane Keaton. 

How would you describe yourself as a kid, teen, young adult?

Articulate.  And incessantly fond of great pens and paper.

How do you want your reader to feel after closing your book?

I want her to feel that bittersweetness of happy-sad when you finish a book you deeply enjoyed.  And I hope she’ll text a friend and be like, “Girl, I have this great book for you to read.  This writer?  She’s just like us.”

What deep underlying truth do you want your reader to know?

What you are doing—right now—matters.  Today matters.  Don’t miss it.

Which form of social media, if any, do you enjoy using the most?

I’m pretty active on social media, so much so that my son once completed this sentence in preschool: My Mom’s job is: Facebook.  True story.

You can find me on—

My Blog:
Facebook Page: The Thoughts and Writings of Tricia Lott Williford
Twitter: TriciaWilliford
Instagram: TriciaLottWilliford

Look me up. Let’s be friends. 

Tricia Lott Williford

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