Faye Rapoport was born in New York City and has lived in upstate New York, Colorado, England, and Israel. She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Brandeis University and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry before starting a career writing for environmental organizations. After becoming a full-time and freelance journalist, she also built a consulting business as a marketing writer. Faye earned a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in 2010, and her essays, fiction, poetry, and interviews have appeared in a variety of literary journals including Ascent, Hamilton Stone Review, Platte Valley Review, Superstition Review, In the Arts, Fourth Genre, The Whistling Fire, and the Writer’s Chronicle. Faye currently lives in the Boston, Massachusetts area with her husband, Jean-Paul DesPres, and their four cats. Please visit her website.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Message from a Blue Jay. When did you start writing and what got you into Creative Nonfiction?
I’ve been writing since I was a child, but I started writing Creative Nonfiction after I entered the Solstice Creative Writing MFA program. I found that writing personal essays was a natural extension of the journalism I had been writing for years, but it was more fulfilling. It combined my desire to be more creative with writing with my tendency to want to tell and reflect on true stories. I’ve really fallen in love with Creative Nonfiction.
Did you have a mentor who encouraged you?
Several of the faculty mentors from my MFA program have played a big role in my path toward both being a better writer and publication. Joy Castro is a wonderful writer and teacher, and so is Michael Steinberg, the founding editor of the literary journal Fourth Genre, an award-winning memoirist in his own right. I have also been encouraged by Laban Carrick Hill, a prolific and award-winning writer.
What was your inspiration for Message from a Blue Jay?
At first my inspiration came from childhood and other memories. Later, inspiration came from travels and events in my more present, adult life.
Did your book require a lot of research?
I did do some research to verify facts or to add details in my essays. For example, I researched some of the flora and fauna of Bermuda so I could name some of the birds and plants I wrote about in “Waiting for the Hurricane.” I also did research to support “The Hope,” which focuses on a recent trip to Israel. I wanted to make sure that the geographic and other facts I mentioned were correct.
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
When I’m having trouble finding something new to write about, I often pull up old work and begin to revise it. I find that continuing the practice of writing through both inspired and uninspired days helps me to stay on a productive path. In some cases, the revisions I’ve done on old work have led to the completion of a publishable essay.
Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to write. Can you relate to this?
Of course. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to sit down and not know if you’ll feel inspired or productive or if you’ll have a good writing day. It helps to realize that good or “bad,” all writing days contribute something to your process. Sometimes you can have a day when nothing seems to go right, and suddenly, the next day, everything clicks.
How do you define success?
The definition of success is different for every writer, and every human being. For me, success is a combination of recognition from the outside (publication) and a sense of peace and fulfillment that can only come from the inside. If I know I’ve worked hard and done my best and not given up at the first roadblock or obstacle, that, to me, is success. If I’ve produced work I’m proud of, like Message from a Blue Jay, I consider that success. Getting published also feels like success to me, but it’s important not to allow anything that’s outside you and out of your control to ultimately define you or your success. I rarely think of the financial side of things when I define success.
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