Author Q & A with Geoff Watkinson
March 10, 2022
This week we are bringing you an interview with Geoff Watkinson. Geoff has managed two literary journals, published dozens of essays, worked as a technical writer, marketing coordinator, publications specialist, writing instructor, and freelance writer. His flash nonfiction essay, “The Banks of Fairview Lake” appears in our latest issue.
We asked Geoff to tell us some unique or surprising detail about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of his poem and to also share what he learned (about himself or craft or life in general) through writing and revising this piece?
His response: “I workshopped the first draft of this essay during my first creative nonfiction workshop of my MFA program at Old Dominion University. That was in the fall of 2011. That’s right – more than 10 years ago. It was much longer then—probably around 3000 words. I didn’t get it right then: there were too many themes I was trying to juggle simultaneously and because of that it just lacked focus. That was one of my great struggles then, and I can still struggle with it. I returned to the piece now and again over this past decade-plus, and realized, eventually, that this piece was much simpler than I was making it. And so I continued to cut with that mentality. I think I always had E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake” in the back of my mind, and I’m not E.B. White. And that’s okay. What’s left is a much more condensed essay that, I think, doesn’t try to be something that it’s not. And that’s a good reminder for me. It’s also a good reminder to never give up on a piece of writing. I’m fortunate to have met writers along the way who turned out beautiful pieces of writing that took years to get right-ish. None of this is a sprint. It’s okay to shelf a piece for periods of time.”
We also asked Geoff if he has any upcoming projects he’d like to share or promote.
“I founded Green Briar Review back in the summer of 2012, and we are going through a major reboot right now with a new editorial staff and just a different feel in general. Running a literary journal is tough because it’s a labor of love, and everyone involved is doing it between work that pays the bills and their own writing. I’m grateful for the journal to still be kicking and to have others involved who are passionate, dedicated, and thoughtful with everything they do. We have some major plans coming for this summer, in celebration of our 10-year anniversary.”
That is an impressive run indeed! As a group of MFAers ourselves, we totally understand the sentiment behind the endeavor being a labor of love. Congratulations on ten years and good luck with the reboot and all your personal writing adventures!
~The Good Life Review Team
Geoff Watkinson has contributed to Guernica, storySouth, The Humanist, The San Diego-Tribune, The Virginian-Pilot, and Switchback, among others. His first nonfiction collection, Have Some Faith in Loneliness & Other Essays, is due out in 2021 (Dreaming Big Publications). He is the founder/managing editor of Green Briar Review (www.greenbriarreview.com). Read more of his work at geoffwatkinson.wordpress.com/publications, or find him on Twitter: @GeoffWatkinson.