A sIT down with Contest winner and kitchen table member kathryn m. sharon featuring the story "Solomon's choice" (2ND ANNUNAL SPRING MICRO-FICTION CONTEST winner)
A conversation with Kathryn M. Sharon about her story, “Solomon’s Choices,” her writing journey, and how she self-designed an "MFA program" to develop her creative voice.
Q: The global pandemic created turmoil the world over, and the "George Floyd Summer/Breonna Taylor Summer" reflected a broader response to racial inequity and state-sanctioned violence than ever before. As a writer, how did you handle the challenges of being an artist and professional with everything that was/is going on? What challenges or opportunities did the pandemic create or open up for you in your writing?
A: When the pandemic first hit in early 2020, I found it frightening and destabilizing. Equally triggering was the racial and social upheaval that resulted from the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. During this time of great tumult, it was hard for me to write. I felt numb, unfocused, dispirited. My focus was on getting through the day and staying healthy. I was in self-protection and self-preservation mode; But a few months into the pandemic, I felt this tug to get back to writing. What kept coming for me is the Toni Morrison quote: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal."
So, I gathered myself and registered for Kitchen Table Literary Arts’ s Learn ‘Em, Break ‘Em five-week fiction course, where I was put through the rigor of writing and revising a series of short stories. Taking the course helped me stay on track with my writing practice. I must say, I was proud of myself for pushing through during a very difficult time.
"Sometimes we need to check ourselves, examine our values and responsibility to our community, and
As far as opportunities during the pandemic, a lot writing conferences, book tours, and other literary events that would have typically been held onsite and in person, were held virtually. And this afforded me the opportunity to attend countless literary events that I normally would not have had an opportunity to attend, either due to their location, costs, and a limited number of vacation days. But in 2020 and 2021, my calendar stayed booked.
Q: What tips or advice do you have for fellow writers?
A: Take advantage of the plethora of writing resources out there such as writing communities (e.g., Kitchen Table Literary Arts and Association of Writers & Writing Programs) and podcasts (e.g., the Manuscript Academy and The Shit No One Tells You About Writing). Get to know the bookstagram community, read voraciously, and most importantly stay true to your creative vision and keep writing.
Q: What do you hope readers taken away from the story, “Solomon’s Choice”?
A: A key takeaway is that sometimes we need to check ourselves, examine our values and responsibility to our community, and make difficult choices. That is, if one is in the position to do so. In the case of the protagonist in “Solomon’s Choice,” it was her cousin who checked her.
"Stay true to your creative vision and keep writing."
Q: What encouraged you to submit your story to our Spring Micro-Fiction contest?
A: I had never submitted my work in a writing contest and I wanted to see how I would fare. But more importantly, this 750-word micro-fiction contest presented me with the challenge of distilling my short story down to its essence, down to the core critical elements. And for me, this was an invaluable creative exercise.
Q: What can we expect from you in the future?
A: The great Toni Morrison famously said, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it". So, that is what I have set out to do. I’m currently working on my debut fiction novel set in the mid-20th century about a Black woman navigating life in the American South. I just finished my first draft, and plan to start querying in the latter half of this year.
CONGRATULATIONS again to our 2nd Annual Spring Micro-Fiction Contest Winner Kathryn M. Sharon.
sOLOMON'S CHOICE BY Kathryn m. sharon
Brooklyn-native, Kathryn M. Sharon is a writer whose work has been published in the Word Works poetry Anthology, the Bronx Press Review, and Streeterville News. She was a former stringer for The New York Times. Kathryn earned masters' degrees from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and The University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Peace and Conflict Studies program, where she studied structural violence in Black communities. She’s currently working on her debut novel.
Writer and publisher stephanie outten shares her writing journey
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve gotten the question, “Why did you decide to write a book?” I smile every time I get asked. I’m grateful, though, that I can smile now because when I was writing my first book, there were so many tears. Whew!
Writing, for me, has been cathartic. Coming from a place of hurt, it was exactly what I needed in order to begin the healing process. I needed to get things off of my chest without having to speak them. The words on the pages needed to speak on my behalf, at the time, and shift me from a place of emotional bondage, to a place of liberation deep in my soul.
It’s pure peace and joy when I’m able to take what’s inside my head and put it on paper. Whether I write in my journal, type into my phone, or type into an electronic document, I write to bring myself to a place of wholeness - a place of feeling full and complete. I believe everyone should have that type of experience when they write.
"Writing, for me, has been cathartic."
My transition from reader to writer began as a way to heal from past emotional scars that had reopened. After having gone through a failed in vitro-fertilization attempt, I was at a place where I had to confront a series of other painful experiences that had been weighing me down without ever realizing it. I was still emotionally and spiritually bleeding. I was hurt, embarrassed, and my hormones were all over the place from all of the treatments. I needed a place to bury all of the pain, so the Lord released me to write my story in a fictional way.
Now that I’ve written one book and contributed chapters in two other books, I spend my time coaching others to write the stories the world has been waiting for them to share. Also, as an independent publisher, I help them get their books into the marketplace.
So, as a writer who is also a publisher, here’s my advice as you prepare to write your own fiction stories:
STEPHANIE OUTTEN'S TIPS FOR WRITING FICTION
I hope this helps you along your journey to becoming a great fiction writer. When you’re ready to write and/or publish, let me know!
A conversation with our first writing contest winner bRYANNA sANDERS.
Kitchen Table Literary Arts covers book experiences, book recommendations, publishing and writerly news, and other randomly beautiful, provocative things that inspire us! We also feature guest bloggers! Wanna write for us? Shout us out!