The Magnolia Review: Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
Frances Howard-Snyder: I mostly work at home. I have a small nook off the kitchen with a messy desk. I can often hear my children in other parts of the house, which is mostly good and sometimes a distraction. Sometimes I find a table in a cafe and work there with headphones.
TMR: What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
FHS: I usually write the very first draft by hand, and then type it up. I like to read a hard copy and make notes and then do more revisions on the computer. When I first came back to writing fiction five years ago, I wrote in pencil so that it would be easier to erase.
TMR: What is your routine for writing?
FHS: I try to write something every day but I don’t have a regular routine. Sometimes I write a lot and sometimes I write a little.
TMR: How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
FHS: I started thinking seriously about writing when I was 16. But I’ve had long periods when I’ve done other things. I returned to it really seriously five years ago.
TMR: Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
FHS: Intelligent people.
TMR: What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
FHS: Read good writers. Just write whatever comes into my head. Mostly what comes out is garbage but sometimes I hit a vein of gold that I can use and then trash the rest.
TMR: What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
FHS: Teach and read and write philosophy, play with my children and husband, walk around my beautiful lake (Lake Padden in Bellingham) read, watch Shakespeare, play chess.
TMR: What is your favorite part of the creative process?
FHS: I love the first draft. But I also love revision, carving something beautiful out of the big messy rock of first draft.
TMR: What is your advice to aspiring writers?
FHS: Write a lot. Submit a lot. Don’t get discouraged when your work is rejected. Keep failing better.
Check out Frances’s work in the issue, Volume 3, Issue 1.