•  Q&A with WriteByNight Consultant Bridget Apfeld

    Bridget Apfeld, consultant and coachBridget Apfeld (Austin, Texas)
    , a native of Wisconsin, received her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she taught writing survey courses and fiction workshops, and specialized in fiction writing; she holds a Bachelor’s degree in English with an honors concentration in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame. She has received awards from the Hollins University Literary Festival, the Gary Fincke Creative Writing Prize, and the Indiana Collegiate Press Association. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared and are forthcoming in a variety of journals including Dislocate, So to Speak, Prick of the Spindle, Verse Wisconsin, Better: Culture & Lit, Poor Yorick, Able Muse, The Fem, Dappled Things, and Midwestern Gothic. She has been a reader for the national literary magazine Ecotone, and works in addition to her creative writing as a copywriter. She is currently working on her second novel.


    Where are you from?

    I grew up in Mequon, Wisconsin, on the edge of Lake Michigan. After living in Indiana for my undergraduate years, I moved for a graduate degree to Wilmington, North Carolina, a coastal city on the southern edge of the state.


    Where did you study?

    I studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame, and have just finished my MFA, specializing in fiction, at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.


    How did you get your start as a writer?

    While I didn’t start writing stories until I was a teenager, I spent most of my childhood narrating stories in my head or drawing single-page illustrations—each with their own elaborate, unwritten drama. I also read—or, as a very young child, was read to by my parents—constantly, and loved the hours I could spend suspended in a great story. It wasn’t until college that I began seriously writing, when I signed up for fiction workshops as a complement to reading-intensive English courses. Once I took my first workshop, I was hooked, and never wanted to do anything else.


    List some of your influences.

    As I develop my own aesthetic, I find myself—a child of the Midwest—gravitating toward writers with strong sensibilities of place: Bonnie Jo Campbell, Louise Erdrich, Kent Haruf, Charles Baxter, Bobbie Ann Mason, Alistair and Alex MacLoed, Richard Ford, or Cormac McCarthy. But I’m also inspired by the narrative bravery of Hanya Yanagihara, Melanie Rae Thon’s fictive empathy, Annie Dillard’s intensity of observation. A very incomplete list, but the names that float to my mind first.

    Also, some of my most influential early reading experiences were Wuthering Heights, The Hobbit, and Anna Karenina—each quite different, but I’m sure I’ve absorbed them in mysterious ways.


    What is the hardest part of writing for you?

    For me, it’s that first round of revision: I get nervous to pull the loose threads of the story in case the whole thing falls apart, which feels like disaster. I have to remind myself that the first draft is what I think the story should be, but revision is about what the story wants to be; pulling those threads may change things, but it’s not a disaster: just change. Once I can get over that fear, revision turns into an exciting process.


    What is your favorite word and why?

    Syzygy: a straight line of three celestial bodies. What a fun word to say, to look at, and such a beautiful definition.


    What’s the last book you read and what did you think of it?

    Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. I was so engrossed that I finished it in a single day—I just couldn’t put it down. I loved the way she built up a portrait of her characters in the first half of the book only to introduce, in the second half, a new narrative point of view that surprises the reader with unexpected information, history, and attitude. The book challenges us in a fresh way to consider, among other things, secrets within relationships, and I thought Groff’s storytelling here was impeccable. I can’t stop thinking about the novel, and for me that’s a mark of success.


    Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

    Read constantly and broadly. Get in the habit of eavesdropping. Be patient with your writing.


    Interested in working with Bridget? Request a free consult now

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