Interview with Robyn Groth, Author
Prose Morsels Press: How did you get into writing prose morsels?
[Note to readers: Short stories, flash fiction, micro-essays, and personal essays are all “prose morsels.”]
Robyn Groth: I believe it went like this: I read Jagganath around the same time I decided to learn to write. In the acknowledgements of that book, I saw that one of Tidbeck’s stories was published in Shimmer Magazine. So I checked it out. I looked at the author bios saw Daily Science Fiction mentioned. Though science fiction and I never clicked, at least not with me as a writer, I have been attracted to short, short stories ever since.
PMP: Why do you write prose morsels?
Robyn: The brevity allows for stories that are dense with metaphor and poetic prose, which allows for beauty even in dark stories and for stories that connect with our subconscious in a way that I believe may only be possible with metaphor.
Also, with three children, a paragraph is often all I have time to write.
PMP: How do you approach writing prose morsels, as opposed to your writing process for longer work?
Robyn: I prefer to let ideas tumble around in my head until there are enough details and connections there to be worth writing down and shaping. Then, because it’s so short, I can write the entire first draft in one sitting, and sometimes immediately do a few revisions.
PMP: What is your favorite type of prose morsel to write and why?
Robyn: There isn’t a form that I prefer. The form has to suit the idea. The distinguishing characteristic for me is where the emphasis lies in terms of idea, character, and events. I love ideas and metaphors, and stories and poems that focus on them.
PMP: What are some of your favorite prose morsels?
Robyn: There is a great collection of linked vignettes by Helen Humphreys called The Frozen Thames that is both beautiful and interesting.
PMP: What do you feel is your biggest writing accomplishment to date?
Robyn: I was recently offered a four-week residency at I-Park Foundation. It’s not just an accomplishment; it’s a gift, and it feels like a miracle. Since it is competitive and acceptance is based partially on work samples, I think that counts.
PMP: It absolutely counts. Congratulations! What, or who, are the biggest influences on your work?
Robyn: There’s no one person or story or poem, not even two or three. I read as much as I can. It all accumulates and connects; each thing depends on every other. Whitman and Palahniuk taught me lists. Virginia Woolf taught me to move from the concrete to the abstract. Marquez and Shahrnush Parsipur taught me about magical realism. Vonnegut taught me to tell the truth. Gaitskill taught me about showing POV through details. Then there’s countless individual poems and stories in magazines and anthologies, the titles of which I’ve forgotten along with the names of their authors, but the lessons have stuck with me.
PMP: What is your favorite writing craft book?
Robyn: This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey by Steve Almond. It cleared up a lot of confusion and frustration for me in a few short pages. Almond doesn’t just understand the mistakes new writers make, he understands the reasons behind them. Having him lay out that logic for me and show me where it goes wrong made a huge difference in my writing.
PMP: What are you currently reading?
Robyn: From Mythic to Linear by Maria Nikolajeva, and also Tove Jansson’s Moomintroll books.
PMP: What advice would you give to other prose morsels writers?
Robyn: If you wonder how the writing of this contemporary author or that one is so much better than yours, look that author up. Find out how long they’ve been writing. They’ve probably been at it at least 20 years longer than you. That’s my experience, anyway, and it’s reassuring to see that improvement may only be a matter of time and persistence.
If you find that the author is actually quite young, just eat a brownie and try to forget it.
Prose Morsels Press is excited to welcome Robyn Groth as an instructor for the 2018 Brave New Words Writers’ Conference at Pendle Hill on June 29 – July 1, 2018.
Robyn has an MA in linguistics and writes short fiction, including flash fiction. Her work has been published by SmokeLong Quarterly, The Tishman Review, and Prose Morsels Press. Robyn teaches writing workshops in the midwest through The Cottage. Visit Robyn at TheCottageWriters.com.