Fourth Genre – interview with Kristen Fischer (5 October 2006)

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Introduction

When the link to my interview with Jenna Glatzer was posted in the Absolute Write Forums, I was expecting people to contact me with requests for interviews. What I did not expect was the speed with which I would be so contacted. However, if you’ve come across Kristen, you’ll know she’s really quick at getting things done. Usually, the people I interview will take anywhere between a day and months to send me their replies. Guess how long Kristen took? 1 hour. Yes, you read it right, 1 hour! Still, I enjoyed much of what I read and without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you Kristen Fischer…


Aneeta: Kristen, what a pleasure it is to ‘meet’ you.

Kristen: It’s a pleasure to be ‘here’ with you!

Aneeta: Let’s start with a little about you. Please tell me a little about your family, where you grew up and what information you’d like to world to know about your life.

Kristen: I have lived in New Jersey all my life. I’m 28 and Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs is my first book. I work full-time from home as a copywriter (http://www.kristenfischer.com). I’m married and I have a cat. I live five blocks to the beach in the nice part of New Jersey (there are few!) and I relish it everyday.

Aneeta: Since I started this column, I’ve come across many people who did something at college/university and then followed their heart and turned to storytelling and becoming writers, in particular. Indeed, I am one such person. However, I’ve found a strange thing happening – I like writing stories which will somehow have some legal issue attached to it. I would like to know about you. I understand you’ve obtained a degree in Environmental Science. For the benefit of my readers who don’t know what environmental science is, please explain what this is about and how does it affect your writing?

Kristen: Environmental science is the study of how science affects and impacts the environment, and vice versa. It deals with everything from cleaning up toxic spills to global warming. You see a lot of hybrid cars; that’s one aspect of preserving our planet. Many people are more environmentally conscious now. Environmental studies also affects the law, and vice versa. Some of the biggest political issues today are, in fact, environmental ones.

I had an interest in environmental science, so I chose to major in it. (Of course upon graduation, I realized that I didn’t want to go into that field.) But it still interests me, and I write for a few environmental companies. I worked for an environmental consultant for two years, writing the reports. It gave me the edge to explore technical stuff that can actually make me a lot of money, to be honest. Now I can approach environmental companies because their field guys may not write well, and I can capitalize on the fact that I have my degree in the field and can write. (A lot of environmental companies are big on reports, as state and federal regulations mandate. So good writing is vital for them!)

Aneeta: I see on your website, you mention that you have a fond appreciation for the genre of creative nonfiction. Now, this is word that popped up recently as another author I interviewed, Jamilah Samian, also categorised her book in this manner. I would like to learn from you, what is this ‘creative non-fiction’?

Kristen: They call it the “fourth genre.” I took a class in this during college. I guess you could say it’s what James Frey did. He took real events and put a creative spin on them. It gives you the ability to write about something true and get creative with it. For example, instead of writing a story about eating apple pie with grandma, a creative nonfiction writer may personalize the fork that grandma is eating with. What does it feel and how is it a part of the story?

Aneeta: It is pretty obvious you’ve written extensively for magazines, newspapers and so on. Can you please tell me, which three pieces you wrote were most interesting and why?

Kristen: As a reporter, I liked the municipal beat work. But I enjoy magazine work the most. My favorite topic is college life—I loved mine so much and think that kids going into and coming out of college do not get enough preparation. My three pieces for College Bound have been my favorite. The latest article is at http://www.collegebound.net/content/article/593/119

Aneeta: Now I understand you do freelance work. What exactly do you specialise in? Is it just copywriting and if so, in what area?

Kristen: I write about everything! I become an instant expert in whatever I touch. Right now I do some work for an HVAC company, some work for environmental companies. All sorts of things: I just finish some marketing materials for a food services company that puts cafeterias in corporate buildings, and I also just wrapped up some profiles on distance learning students for an educational website. Then I do ‘fun’ stuff—this week I am writing a website for a dance company. It varies, and I love all of it!


Aneeta: On to your up-coming book. Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs. Please provide a description for this book?

Kristen: This is a one-of-a-kind book about life after writers and other creatives take the plunge into self-employment. It discusses issues such as how to deal with rejection, build a support system and handle time management. I interviewed more than 65 creatives and gathered their anecdotes on what works for them, and what doesn’t. The hope is that it will expose issues that creative freelancers face, but maybe don’t feel comfortable talking about. (Many people think my life in creative self-employment is easy, so I don’t always feel like I can talk about the downers.)

This book aims to give people the support they need, which they can relate to in the stories, so they won’t give up just because there are unique, sometimes troublesome issues creatives face. You can check out www.creativelyselfemployed.com to learn more about the book—I’m building the site into a resource for creatives to use. The book will be out in December!

Aneeta: Lastly, as you know, my website caters for storytellers. What advice would you give to storytellers, especially those who are starting out in their careers as storytellers?

Kristen: I just say write. I never joined a writers group. I never read books on how to write. I just do it. I know some people feel that they have to learn to write, but if you’re a writer, you’re a natural. And if you’re a good storyteller and not as great a writer, that is what editors are for.

Biggest advice: Don’t think about it too much, or you’ll be staring at Page One for a long time.

Aneeta: Kristen, this is all I have to ask you. Is there anything you would like to add?

Kristen: I’m really thankful for taking the time to talk with me!

Aneeta: Kristen, thank you, once again.

Kristen: Thank you, Aneeta!!


This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.

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