Congratulations, Wendy, your story, A Test of Citizenship was chosen as Story of the Month for November, 2005. We loved your story, now would you tell us a little about yourself?
A. I have been writing for about 20 years but only began submitting work for publication in the last several months. And actually, this is the first piece that was published! I am very pleased and frankly feel a bit nervous thinking about people reading my work and wondering about their reactions. I am a member of a supportive writing group that has encouraged me to submit my work.
Q. What would you want our readers to know about you?
Writing is a creative expression that has allowed me to better understand some traumatic events in my life.
Q. Do you write in a particular genre? If so, what genre is it?
I used to write poetry. I love the discipline of writing succinctly and evoking a strong feeling in a few spare lines. However, these days I mostly write non-fiction essays. I would like to try to write a play sometime in the future.
Q. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Strong, believable characters with just enough description for the reader to envision the character but with enough uncertainty for the reader to add a layer of interpretation.
Q. How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Since most of my writing is non-fiction, the characters and plots are from my own life and experiences. When I occasionally write fiction, I may hear a dialogue or see an image that inspires me to create a character.
Q. What do you do to unwind and relax?
I love to take long walks in nature or ride my bicycle (when New England weather allows) with my husband.
Q. What inspires you? Who inspires you?
I was initially inspired to write as a way to try to understand the people who inhabited my childhood but died before I could receive answers to my questions. Writing still allows me to sort out situations and find clarity.
Q. Are you working on any projects right now?
I am finally rereading my early writing of 20 years ago and entering this poetry into the computer. As some of my current writing deals with the same subjects and characters, it is instructive (and a little scary) for me to see how I dealt with the same themes at an earlier time in my life.
Q. What is most frustrating about writing? Most rewarding?
I am most frustrated when an idea does not translate well on paper or more commonly loses some of the intensity. The most rewarding moments are when I can inject humor into a difficult situation.
Q. If I were sitting down to write my very first story, what would your advice be?
It’s cliché but start with someone you know, a character who feels so real to you that you think nothing he/she could do would surprise you. Then allow that character to do something surprising, maybe shocking. Since you know that character well, you’ll be able to figure out how he/she will respond and write about it.
Q. What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Don’t be like me who has written for many years nervously by myself. Find a supportive group to share your writing and inspire new pieces.
Wendy L. Dodek Biography
Wendy Dodek enjoys writing essays, fiction and the occasional poem. Her day job is running a small market research company (www.insightRT.com)
Her passion is understanding different cultures. She has traveled to five continents and volunteers at Earthwatch and the International Institute in Boston where she works with recent refugees helping them acclimate to life in the U.S. This is how she met Semira, the charming character in this story.
Wendy lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband, Chito who is originally from the Philippines.