'In the Spotlight' interview with Grace Safford for Lucent Dreaming

Grace Safford in the Spotlight

Grace Safford, whose story ‘A Bed of Water’ is published in issue 7 of Lucent Dreaming, is a writer and editor from a town in Northern Vermont so small cartographers sometimes confuse it for a lake. She’s passionate about gardening, feminism, whales, and wearing very ugly socks. You can find her work published or forthcoming in Corvid Queen, Twist in Time, Firewords, and Soft Cartel. Currently, she is working on her first novel and a writing activity book.

So, what inspired your piece ‘A Bed of Water’? Can you tell us a little more about what it’s about?

‘A Bed of Water’ actually started with a challenge. A former mentor/professor of mine challenged me to write a story where no sentence was longer than five words. At the time a friend of mine was also going through a phase where she wrote many stories about old magical men at sea. Her stories always made me think deeply—especially about the characters unseen. Who have these men left behind while they are out on the water—while they are in love with the sea? ‘A Bed of Water’ started as a few brief moments and brief sentences and grew for two years while I edited and revised it. When I was writing ‘A Bed of Water,’ I was thinking about those things unseen and left behind. The people, the objects. The story is about love and searching for what you love, but I think the story tries to ask you what could happen when you follow your dreams so far you forget what you left over your shoulder (in a way that could potentially be damaging). But what excites me most is when someone tells me what my story is “about” or what their interpretation of it is. It’s one of my favorite things about writing—how each story holds a different meaning to its reader. I’d love to see how other people interpret ‘A Bed of Water.’

What are some of your favourite books and art (including shows, videos, music) – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites?

I gravitate towards books that make me wonder how a person even first came up with the thought for it. One of my favorite books is When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. It’s about a girl who grows roses in her wrists and a boy who paints the moon in a town where pumpkins turn to glass. What an amazing idea for a story, right? It’s the kind of idea that wakes you up. I read McLemore’s work and I am always blown away by the new concepts and words they put to the page. It’s the kind of book that inspires me to push my brain in new directions—to go beyond what is to what could be. I love anything that can give me that shove. Plus, it’s all around just a stunning and truly important story. (I would love to one day speak to McLemore about their craft.) I find myself really inspired by books—of course—but I also draw a lot of inspiration from illustrators and artists. To name a few artists, I really admire Abelle Hayford, Jamie Green, Isadora Zeferino, Taryin Knight, Jane Carkill, See You See Me Studio, and so many more. Art just really touches me in an emotional way I am not sure I even have a name for. I just recently stumbled upon the collage ‘Cancer Rising, Aquarius Moon’ by Ekua Holmes and I cannot get it out of my head. That piece feels like it’s trying to tell a story, and I love as a writer being challenged to perceive a story through a medium other than words. It pulls me in a new direction that feeds my creativity.

What, if anything, are you looking forward to right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?

Right now I am finishing up some revisions on a short story called ‘Soap Tongues’ that I’m really excited for. I also have a micro-chap, ‘Why do we Tilt our Heads when we Smile and Other 2:00 am Anxiety Conversations with my Fish,’ that just came out with Ghost City Press on July 3rd. It’s my first collection of sorts and I am thrilled to have it out and shared with the world. One of my biggest projects is a manuscript for a guided journal I have been working on. It’s non-fiction and focuses on the connection between nature and creativity. Nature is a huge guiding force in my life. I am in my last few rounds of revision and I hope to send it off to an agent or publisher before the end of the summer. Lastly, I am really looking forward to starting work on a novel idea I’ve been planning for a while. I’ve had to do a lot of research for it, but now I think it’s time to hit my pen to the paper. I also just downloaded Maggie Stiefvater’s novel writing course to help! All in all, I’m excited to start shifting towards some big projects.

Can you tell us about how you got into writing and art? Is there anyone whose support or encouragement really inspired or motivated you?

Since I was really little I just found so much joy in imagining things. I distinctly remember engaging all of my stuffed animals in epic stories on my bedroom floor that went on for days. Days! I wouldn’t even let my mother move them because she would “ruin the scene.” I just loved the idea of making up things that could happen, and I didn’t even really think of myself as a storyteller until my eighth grade English. teacher Mrs. Meyer told me, after reading an assignment of mine, “You’re a pretty good writer, Grace.” When she said that very simple sentence, it just felt like my whole life clicked into place. I am thankful for Mrs. Meyer every single day. After Mrs. Meyer, the two mentors in my life who really helped motivate and support my writing were Rachel Carter and Alice Neeley. They were two powerhouse professors of mine while I was in college. Rachel Carter really helped show me the fundamentals of creative craft, and Alice Neeley introduced me to literature and genres I’d never even seen before. Rachel helped give me a love for a really good sentence, and Alice helped me realize that I can test the boundaries of fiction and write a story about a woman who tries to grow a man out of an eyeball or a story about a man who falls in love with the ocean. Alice was actually the one who gave me the writing challenge that started ‘A Bed of Water.’ Simply put? Teachers are amazing. I am truly thankful for every teacher in my life.

Where can people see more of you and your work?

You can find all of my work on my website gracesafford.com. You can find links to my previously published work in magazines such as Twist in Time, Soft Cartel, and Firewords. You can also find my recently published zine, ‘Find Your Green,’ linked on gracesafford.com. Plus, my micro-chap, ‘Why do we Tilt our Heads when we Smile and Other 2:00 am Anxiety Conversations with my Fish,’ just came out with Ghost City Press on July 3rd, and I have a narrative poem I am extremely excited about coming out with Corvid Queen in January of 2021. (I think I might also be starting a book blog on my website very soon! I’d talk about books all day if I could.)
You can also follow me on Twitter @gracemsafford for kind-of-funny tweets and on Instagram @gracesafford for pictures of green things.

Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication! Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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