Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Women on Writing : Beth Morey

I can't believe we're already into the sixth Women on Writing interview. I've learned so much from each of these women and interviewee six, Beth Morey, is no exception. Beth is a talented blogger, author, and artist. Her words are frequently fearless and powerful, even on the darkest of subjects. I hope her responses here today empower you as much as they have me. As always, you can check out the rest of the Women on Writing interviews here


Tell me about your blogging journey. How did you get started and why do you keep at it? 

I got in on blogging almost as soon as the medium emerged. A free online instant-publishing-gratification journal?  I was soin, even though I didn't quite know what to do with my Livejournal blog that I started the summer after I graduated from college. I didn't get more serious about blogging until November 2007, when I began (ironically, considering that I was soon to be diagnosed with a devastating eating disorder) food blog.

That food blog, however, soon naturally transformed into an online record of my grapple with said eating disorder.  Though blogging, I not only met many kindred souls who were also fighting against the ED beast, but also found a great measure of healing. There is just something special about writing your heart out, and then posting it for all the world to see.  It felt very validating. 
When my daughter, our first child, died without warning within my womb and was then stillborn in November 2011, it felt very natural to turn to my blog once again for healing. About a week after birthing her body, I wept over my keyboard as I tapped out her stillbirth story -- and kept on writing about the journey of grief, and then of pregnancy and parenting after babyloss. It wasn't until about mid-2013 that I finally began to feel that I had written as much as I needed to of that experience. I won't say that I'm  fully healed, because how can a mother's heart ever fully heal from that sort of loss? But I do know that I have achieved a great deal of healing, and blogging played a very large role in that.

This is why I keep at it -- because it is healing for me. It helps me to process in a way that journaling does not.  And it also has, without my meaning for it to, become something of a ministry to others. There is something so powerful about that "me, too" -- of hearing that you are not alone in whatever you are going through. Words have the power to change the world; words have the power to change one person's world; words change my world. This is why I blog.

Image by Jennifer Upton
What would be your ideal writing environment? How do you make time and space in your life for the practice of writing?

Blogging is very natural for me. I feel a sort of soul-pressure, and words start forming in my head, and I know I have to get them out, so I blog. It's enjoyable and therefore I don't have to "make" myself do it.  I find the time to blog when my son is sleeping.

Writing novels, on the other hand, takes much more resolve. I make appointments with myself and keep them, set word count goals and then meet them. We have recently invested in a half day of daycare for our son -- which he adores, but makes my mama guilt flare! -- so that I can write.

As for my ideal writing location -- I write mostly at coffee shops right now, which I love except that they usually tend to have distractingly loud music. I'd write outdoors if there was an outlet plug handy and an umbrella to sit under so there wouldn't be a glare on my laptop screen. My ideal spot would have tables and chairs to write at, but also a squashy chair so that I can hunker down and get cozy if I needed to. Also, something yummy to drink is good.

Image by Jennifer Upton
Though much of your writing addresses darker themes, you describe your upcoming novel as "the ideal beach read." How do you balance the light and dark of your creative identity?

Ha! I think people familiar with my blog will find my novel, The Light Between Us, surprising. It really is light and fun -- it's a new adult romance, after all. But at the same time, there is a certain depth and texture to the characters, which balances the silly fun of a romance. I try to make it a more "real" romance, complete with some of life's quirks and hurts.

I think that I grew up with an inappropriate expectation of life, perhaps born of the American dream -- I thought that if I was good, life would be good to me. But life is hard and painful and unfair, at times anyway. I tried to find some of that balance in my novel, while also keeping it entertaining.

I guess that authenticity is the answer to your question. When I am joyful, I say so. When I am anguished, I say so. There's room for all of it, and both the hard stuff and the light can coexist in the same moment.

What authors or works most inspire your writing?

Anne Lamott, Neil Gaiman, and Audrey Niffennegger are my big three -- I would love to become as skilled at writing and telling textured stories as they are. I also adore the poetry Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, Mary Oliver, and David Whyte.

If you could give one piece of advice to budding writers what would it be?

Your words matter. The stories -- true or made-up -- that live inside you matter. Your creative dreams matter, and are worth pursuing.  Set aside time to pursue them, even if it's hard or petrifying or "impractical." It is more impractical to have your soul, with its unchased dreams, shrivel up within you.


Beth writes, paints, and dreams in Montana.  She is the author of the creative healing workbook Life After Eating Disorder, and is the owner of Epiphany Art Studio.  Her words and art have appeared in various publications, such as Somerset Studio, Still Standing Magazine, Wild Goslings, and Disney's Family Fun.  In addition to her quirky little family and their three naughty dogs, Beth is in love with luscious color, moon-gazing, and dancing wild.  Her upcoming novel, The Light Between Us, releases June 14.  She writes soul into flesh at her blog, and is saving the world at Act Small, Think Big.   

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