An Interview + A Giveaway {Corinne Cunningham}

I enjoyed last month’s interview with Lesley so much that I wanted to squeeze in another before the close of the year.  So here are, continuing with this interview series.  A series in which I introduce you to very special people…individuals who work equally hard at their craft and at living an intentional life….individuals who share thoughts on creativity and discuss current work dear to her heart. Each individual who joins us also generously offers some sort of giveaway. It could be a handmade item, a spot in a workshop, a collection of stones or crystals…anything that’s connected to the feature artist’s work and life. Their gift to you is of their choosing. This series will, I hope, create space to explore what creativity looks like to different people; I hope it will also create space to spread a little love through the gifts of our guests.

Today, I’m happy to share a conversation with Corinne Cunningham.  She’s someone I “found” via some of you, which is how this crazy online world seems to work.  I’m glad to have crossed paths with her.  She’s a wonderful writer and overall lovely human.  When I read her debut novel Farm Girl a couple months ago, I got about ten pages in and knew I’d ask her to join us here.  Well, she’s here today!  I hope you’ll enjoy reading our conversation below…

 

I love hearing what creativity means to other people.  What does creativity mean to you?

To me, creativity means self expression and discovery. It means freedom. It means waking up in the morning and smiling thinking about the possibilities the day may bring. It means being in your flow, and feeling the power of allowing your natural gifts to shine.

Can you tell us about your creative work as a writer?

Simply put, it sustains me.

Do you have any rituals surrounding your creative work?  (Morning or evening?  Lighting a candle?  Playing music?)

I try to keep it simple, as the times I’ve created complex rituals I’ve found it harder to dive into the work, and as my writing time is a bit limited I need to be able to jump in and out of writing fairly quickly. That being said, I do find it helpful to turn off the wifi on my computer, silence my phone, and then when I’m really ready to begin I light a candle. There’s something about the action of bringing a match to the wick that signals a separation from my regular daily life, that helps me to stay present and show up fully.

Sometimes I listen to music, other times I like some ambient noise {I’ve found Noisli to be helpful for productivity and focus}, and then there’s times I need absolute quiet. It depends on the type of writing I’m doing that day, for example when I write dialog I need quiet so I can read aloud bits and pieces to see if sounds realistic. If there’s a seasonal scene, I’ll listen to appropriate music… I do remember listening to a lot of Iron & Wine radio on Pandora during the overwhelmingly autumnal scenes in Farm Girl. I also tend to have a cup of tea and snacks at the ready…

My writing times are generally early in the morning before the house wakes up, or in the afternoon once our homeschooling activities have finished up. I have found it challenging to write after a day out of the house, and so I try to protect those early morning writing times as the afternoon sessions are a bit less reliable. By the end of the day my brain is absolutely done, and even though I’d love to write in the evenings, chilling out on the couch with my husband while watching Netflix before heading to bed with a good book serves a purpose as well. Rest is important! Filling our well however we can is important. Striving and writing and working towards burnout is not… and I have to keep that in mind. While I am a writer at my very core, during this season of life I’m also a homeschooling mother. And so at times, something needs to give, and some days my journal writing and an instagram caption are the ways I touch base with my writing life, and that’s okay.

As a mother and writer, I’m curious how you weave your creative work into that of family and home.  How do you honor your creative work while also being a mother?  You and I both homeschool, so I know getting that time to work is extra challenging!

It is an extra challenge! I find that weaving creative activities that can be done alongside my children helps to keep the juices flowing, whether that means knitting or journaling, even coloring or baking. When I stay tuned in to creativity during the day, it’s easier to feel like that part of me is healthy and well enough that I don’t have to wake up that aspect of my life each time I sit down to write.

Also, and I think this is a key thing, I talk about my writing life with my kids. I’m open with them about when I need space, what I’m doing and why. It’s been a constant dialog since they were little. As a family we’ve cultivated mutual respect when it comes to each other’s work and work space and time, not only for adults, but for the children as well. If I respect that they need time and space to work on their projects, and limit the number of times they’re interrupted or pulled away, they’re more understanding about what it means to value other people’s time and work as well. I think it helps that our house is full of introverts who enjoy their own projects and personal space, but I do think being open about your needs and expectations with your kids is a good thing in just about any situation!

Does being a mother inspire your writing?

I think that being a mother has made writing a necessity. Writing keeps me connected with myself in a way that nothing else ever has. Mothering can be all consuming, especially mothering and homeschooling! It’s easy to lose yourself to the daily comings and goings and to do lists. When I’m writing, I can be the mother I want to be partly because I know who that is, and I know who I am. I’m clear on what I need to feel alive and ultimately, content. When I’m not writing in some way… there’s a trickle down effect and the energy and atmosphere in our house is much different, and my relationships with my children and even my husband feel a bit strained. Everyone can tell when I haven’t written for a while. It’s worth the time and effort to create space for writing, even if it’s just five minutes to – like I said in the previous question – write out an instagram caption!

You recently self-published a novel, Farm Girl (which I’ve read…and enjoyed SO much!).  Would you like to share anything about your experiences writing that book?  And maybe, touch upon your decision to self-publish?

I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Farm Girl is ultimately a story of finding your way home, it’s a story of family secrets, grief, love, and kindness. The idea of home is one that has come up again and again in my writing – both creative non-fiction and fiction, and it made sense when I started to see that particular theme unravel itself within the book.

It’s not the first novel I’ve written, but it was the first that I outlined and planned out before I started writing in earnest. There was something about this book that felt different from all the others I’d written. Even as I was writing it, I knew it was special and that I wanted to get it into readers hands. Writing Farm Girl was not always easy, but I can look back and say without a doubt that writing it was one of the biggest joys in my life thus far.

Initially I did query literary agents to try and go about publishing traditionally. I sent out numerous query letters, and over the course of a good six months received many rejections. I felt strongly that it wasn’t because of the quality of my writing, more so about timing and the amount of work hitting each agents desk, but the rejections still weighed heavily on my heart. It started to impact my daily life and mental health a bit to the point where I didn’t feel like I could show up for my kids and our homeschooling life the way I wanted.

During that time I took stock and asked myself why I wanted my book to be published, and ultimately my answer was because I wanted to share the story. I wanted the people who had been encouraging me and supporting me to be able to read my book. It was as simple as that.

And so I decided to give myself the permission I was seeking from a literary agent, and self publish! Once I made the decision it felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, and I haven’t looked back since. That’s not to say I don’t have fantasies about getting picked up by an agent or publisher after the right person reads Farm Girl, but it was the right decision to make with this book at the time. There’s been a steep learning curve in all things editing and formatting, but ultimately self publishing Farm Girl has been empowering, and I’m so very glad that people are able to read the story. It’s been heartwarming to see people connecting with the characters and setting, and just knowing that people are reading my words and enjoying them is a thrill!

Now some lighter ones…

I know you’re a knitter. What’s currently on your needles?

I’m about to cast on for The Vulnerability Shawl by Transmutation Knits. I picked up a few skeins of yarn from Play at Life Fiber Arts when I was at a fiber festival last month, and I can’t wait to see it grow on the needles!

Do you have a favorite cookie that you bake this time of year?

I love them all… but I do especially love a good gingerbread cookie covered in icing.

Are you currently reading a book?  If so, what is it?

The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes.

What’s something you like about the month of December?

The magic of anticipation… it’s a whole month of wonder and delight. Plus, we tend to get our Christmas tree early on in the month, and the glow of lights strung around a tree makes my early mornings much more enjoyable.

If you close your eyes right now, what word comes to mind?

Warmth

***
And now for the giveaway…

Corinne is giving away one signed copy of Farm Girl, a novel.  That’s what you were hoping for, right?!!

To enter the giveaway, here’s what you need to do:


Leave a comment below.  Simply say hello, or maybe share something you enjoyed reading about Corinne today.  Comments will close at midnight PST on Monday, December 16, 2018. The randomly-selected winner will be announced here in this post on Tuesday, December 17.
Comments are now closed.

 

…And the winner is Sharron!  (Sharron, an email is coming your way.)  Thank you to everyone who stopped by to visit Corinne, and thank you for all the lovely comments!

 

Thank you for being here with us today, Corinne.

Sending a little love to everyone, m

 

***

Corinne Noel Cunningham is a writer, mother,
avid reader and knitter, and tea enthusiast.
She lives with her family on the northern coast
of Massachusetts.
FARM GIRL is her debut novel.

22 thoughts on “An Interview + A Giveaway {Corinne Cunningham}

  1. What a sweet interview. I love the bit about motherhood making writing feel like a necessity- I get that. I recently started following Corinne on Instagram and very much enjoy and look forward to her musings and thoughtful posts.

  2. —do not include me in the giveaway!!!—

    Just writing to say I won a copy on Twitter and I read Farm Girl and enjoyed it immensely. I’ve followed C on instagram and love to read what she is thinking. Whoever (whomever?) wins is a very lucky person!!

  3. Loved this interview. One of the best gifts I’ve given myself this year is finding you and Corinne on Instagram. You’ve inspired me to think more expansively and triggered my dormant creativity. Many thanks!

  4. So gracious of you to take the time to give us all an inspiring interview in this very full season, many thanks, xox

Leave a Reply to paulateach Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.