Interview With Dawn Sticklen

Dawn Sticklen has lived in Joplin Missouri for over 20 years. During this time she has seen the city grow and flourish both in its commercial endeavors as well as in its local arts scene.

Since You Asked” is a lifestyle blog created by Dawn.  Here she and her team provide information about community events and services as well as reviews about local restaurants, retailers, and artists.  Additionally, you will find information and stories about family life both here in Joplin and around the globe as well as suggestions and ideas of how you can contribute to the overall quality of life and wellness of your community.

1.  Precipice came out just two weeks ago. What did this anthology mean to you in your writing career?

You know, I’m not sure if I have fully digested what it means to “be published”.  When I first started writing a few years ago, I was just testing the waters, so to say, in an effort to determine whether or not I could get the random thoughts that drift around in my head down on paper in a cohesive manner.  I soon found that, yes, I could weave those thoughts together and produce something that either informed readers or stirred their emotions and imaginations.  It is an amazing feeling, as I’m sure you know, to elicit a reaction from a reader that mirrors your own feelings regarding a particular moment in time. Even more rewarding, though, is to hear a reader say, “You know, I felt exactly the same way. Thank you for writing this.”

2.       Did you write The Curse and the Blessing before or after you heard the call for submissions to Precipice?

I initially wrote that piece about three years ago.  I am not very good at writing journals (actually, I’m terrible at it), so it took a lot for me to revisit those moments and try to recreate them, along with the emotions I experienced at the time, and then accurately depict them to the reader. One of the early critiques I received was that if I could allow myself to be more honest in it, it would probably be something of value to others. Of course, I didn’t want to be completely honest yet so I put it aside for several months (or a year or two….) I think the timing was right for me when I saw the call for submissions and I decided to take the piece back out, dust it off, and really put some effort into it. My friend, Carolyn Trout, was kind enough to read it for me and offer constructive criticism.  She didn’t know my story before reading the piece (which is one of the reasons why I asked her to read it for me), and her response was exactly what I wanted it to be. And that was when I knew I had accomplished my goal.  She offered me some very good advice – which I immediately incorporated into the piece – and then I pushed the “submit” button, and voila, here I am.

3)  Was it difficult to share such a personal story?

Oh, my goodness, yes! I have a very difficult time letting people know when I am sad or down, and this was, obviously, a life-changing event that sent me to the absolute darkest place I have ever been. To expose that vulnerability still makes me cringe.  But, I’m not so unique. I meet people all the time who overcome tragedies and then use their experiences to propel them forward to accomplish great things in the world.  I am always amazed by the resiliency we human beings possess. Tragedy challenges our most basic core beliefs. Some people become bitter and cynical – and understandably so – but when we look beyond our own circumstances and realize we are not on this ride all by ourselves we have a much greater chance of eventually coming back out of the darkness.

4.  How long have you been linking up with Write on Edge? Are you primarily a memoir or fiction writer?

I have been linking up with Write on Edge for a little over a year now.  I usually just read the posts to garner little tidbits of useful writing information, but sometimes I participate in the prompts in an effort to flex my creative muscles.  I primarily write memoir, but I like to stretch the truth sometimes. After all, I have always had a pretty active imagination!

5.  Are you a writer who blogs or a blogger who writes?

I am definitely a blogger who writes.  Goodness, I am still wondering if I have what it takes to write more than 1,000 words in one piece (although this one is pushing the outer limits)!

6.  What are your writing goals?

I am currently working on a memoir about my childhood in Key West in the early 1970’s. I have no idea if it will ever be fit for human eyes to read, but, let’s face it, not many people can say they lived on a houseboat in Key West for two years with their brother, recently divorced mom, and gay uncle.  And no, I’m not stretching the truth here….

7.  What goals or wishes do you have for your children?

Wow, that’s a tough one!  I think I just want them to pursue their passions and do the best they can to realize their fullest potential.  I don’t want them to get lazy and quit working toward their goals just because it gets hard. When we don’t challenge ourselves we never learn what our limitations are or, worse, what great things we can accomplish. Most importantly, I want my kids to know that they have all been given talents and they should learn how they can use those talents to make the world around them a better place.  In my opinion, that is our responsibility as human beings.

8.  What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?

I actually enjoy sitting down in front of my laptop and writing away.  It is so much easier to read something I typed than it is to try and decipher my handwriting!

9.  What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?

Last summer a writing friend suggested that I keep a notebook on my nightstand and write whatever comes to mind just before I nod off to sleep. That was when I discovered that I wanted to write about my life in Key West.  Whenever I get stuck for creative ideas, I pull out my notebook and just start writing whatever comes to mind.  Some of my favorite (and most successful) blog posts have come from that.  I really need to get back into that habit!

10.  What social media do you use?  Do you combine the personal and the professional?

I am a big Facebook user. I also use Twitter quite a bit – which I love – and Google+ and, most recently, LinkdIn.  I have a Facebook page for my blog, and I tend to try and keep Twitter, Google+, and LinkdIn professional but I also use my personal Facebook page to promote my writing.

11.  What is the most persistent distraction from writing?

PROCRASTINATION.

12.  What is your ideal writing environment? Have you ever been able to create it?

I love, love, love writing at Starbucks.  There’s just something so calming about being in there and being able to write without distraction.  I am always very productive there.  I also have a desk at home that I write from (but there are lots of distractions there – laundry, food, kids, my guitar) and I spend a lot of time writing at my desk at our office.

13.  What brought you to Joplin, Missouri?

We moved to Joplin right after my husband graduated from law school because he was offered a job at a law firm here.  We stayed in Joplin because we discovered it is a great place to live!

14.  What is Art Feeds?

Art Feeds is the brainchild of a young woman, Meg Bourne.  She joined forces with two of her friends – Marissa Fahrig and Brooke Lemasters – and they developed an art therapy program for “at risk” children in local elementary schools.  Over time they realized that ALL kids benefit from the therapeutic outlet of art in all its many forms and they have expanded their programs to include all students in our local schools.  They also recruit volunteers from the high school, providing a creative outlet for them as well.  After the tornado, Art Feeds’ programs proved invaluable in helping children express their feelings of sadness, loss, and fear, which made a significant contribution in helping kids overcome PTSD.

15.  What does art feed?

Oh, I love it that you asked this question! Meg poses this question to her supporters all the time! For me, art feeds that part of my soul that needs to see beauty in the world – even when it seems there is none to be found. Art allows me to step outside of myself and see the world from a different perspective.  Art also miraculously calms me when I’m distraught or depressed.  The effort of creating something of worth – whether it’s editing a photograph or singing a song or writing a story – is exhilarating, calming, and empowering all at the same time.

From left to right, Marissa, Meg, and Brooke. They are standing in front of their mobile art unit, which was donated to the organization last year by Most Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. It was recently announced that Art Feeds is one of the 5 finalists in NBC’s American Giving Awards in the Youth Developers category. There will be a voting contest from Nov. 27-Dec 4 to help determine who will win the top spot in each of five categories.

16.  How did you get involved with the organization?

I first learned of Art Feeds through an after-school program they sponsored at my kids’ elementary school about three years ago.  I have known Meg and her family for several years so I was interested in what she was doing with art and the students.  And, the kids all love Meg, Marissa, and Brooke so much – how could I not want them to succeed?

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17.  In what way are you involved with the Joplin schools?

I was recently appointed to the Joplin Schools’ Board of Education. In April I will run for election for the position.

18.  What inspired you to start a blog about Joplin?

OK, this is going to sound cliché, but it was the tornado. Several months after the storm I had lunch with my friend who lost her son in the tornado and she told me that if Will were still here he would encourage us to find the beauty in the world and work to share it with others.  That was when I decided that I wanted to let people know about all the good things in Joplin.  They exist in other communities, as well, and my goal is to encourage others to find and appreciate what is great and beautiful and amazing in their own communities and work toward leaving a positive mark on the world around us.

19.  What do you like best about living in Joplin?

I like being a part of a community, and Joplin provides plenty of opportunities for community involvement. We are big enough to support a good mall, great local and national restaurants, good public and private schools, and several locally owned retail boutiques.  One of the first things I noticed about Joplin is the abundance of talented artists (Thomas Hart Benton and Langston Hughes were both from here) and the willingness of the community to support and celebrate those artists.

20.   Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

Wait, I thought Sue Ellen shot JR?

This week, I have a couple of important extras! A couple weeks ago, my first story (as well as Dawn’s memoir) was published in an anthology called Precipice. It’s available in both print and electronic formats. Also, I have a short story entered in the America’s Next Author contest. You can read and download that story for free on the website. I’d appreciate your vote (just takes a click on the site, no log in) and if you’re feeling very generous, please leave a review! (requires a log-in with basic info)

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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2 Responses to Interview With Dawn Sticklen

  1. Dawn says:

    Thanks so much for having me over here today, AmyBeth! I am beyond honored to be included with such talented writers!

  2. Pingback: Not Good Enough | AmyBeth Inverness

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