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  • Behind the Paper

    “The best way to be stimulated as a writer is to read, and the best way to be energized as a visual artist is to look at art,” Nancy Hathaway says. Hathaway is primarily a writer but she is also an artist whose visual work has been published in 3Elements Review. We wanted to recognize her not only for the work she does but also for her dedication as an artist and to our journal.

     

    Hathaway has published three collages in 3Elements: the front and back covers of Issue 2 and a piece called “Bludgeon, Dirge (Bartok), Doppelganger” in Issue 5.

     

    She also created two pieces for Issue 8: “Poe Kit #1” and “Poe Kit #2.” But she missed the deadline because, just as she was finishing the collages, she tripped over a backpack and was catapulted against a wall. The accident left her in the hospital with a broken femur.

    Nancy_Hathaway-Poe_Kit_1

    “By the time I limped back home, the deadline had come and gone but my desk was still a sea of paper,” Hathaway says. She decided to finish the collages and send them to 3E anyway.

     

    Hathaway has been making collages since she was in high school but has only recently sent them to be published, starting with 3Elements. Not surprisingly, she has amassed a vast collection of papers—plain, fancy, origami, wrapping, marbleized, tissue, tracing, sandpaper, music, mesh, celestial maps, newspapers—and, of course, an array of images.

     

    “I collect images all the time,” Hathaway says. “I take photographs, tear pictures out of newspapers and magazines, draw, download images, and pick up ephemera from city sidewalks.”

     

    To create a collage, Hathaway sifts through her collection of images until her selections start to coalesce. Then, she alters the images by using both her home printer and the industrial-strength Xerox machine at Staples. She further tinkers with these images using paint, oil crayons, ink, stamps and other tools until they become unique versions of their original selves.

     

    Finally, she arranges the images so that they connect on the paper. This task isn’t always easy. “Finding a happy arrangement takes time,” she says. “There are always last-minute additions, deletions, and mistakes. As with writing, part of the challenge is knowing when to stop.”

     

    “Poe Kit #1” and “Poe Kit #2” were inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s works. Recently, Hathaway has been limiting herself to creating collages in black and white. But we see hints of color in the two recent pieces as homages to The Masque of the Red Death and The Gold-Bug.

    Nancy_Hathaway-Poe_Kit_2

     

    “I’m a fan not just of Poe’s horror stories and tales of the supernatural but also of his journalism,” Hathaway says. “Poe loved astronomy and cosmology (and other sciences), and I wanted to make sure my collages reflected that interest.”

     

    Besides creating collages, Hathaway has written articles, short pieces and a dozen books. The Friendly Guide to the Universe and Native American Portraits 1862-1918 are just two of her many published books.

     

    “I enjoy writing and making art, but if I had to choose, I would pick writing.”

    Although Hathaway sees herself as primarily a writer, we hope to see more of her eye-catching collages in the future. Their edginess entails a genre all their own.

     

    We are big fans of Nancy’s written and visual work and it meant a lot to us that she thought to show us what our journal inspired her to create and that she finished these pieces despite the deadline passing. We hope you enjoy these Poe-inspired pieces as much as we do.

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    Creative Nonfiction: Making Facts Read like Fiction

    Creative nonfiction opens a whole different world to authors who choose to take its winding path. Nonfiction, as we know, is a story that is based off of true facts or events and the word creative usually is paired with fiction writing. However, in creative nonfiction, the literary techniques and styles that are used when writing fiction are adapted to nonfiction and result in a story that almost reads like a fantasy.

    When writing creative nonfiction, it does not mean using creative styles to fabricate the truth, it means using these styles to help describe true facts to more deeply engage the reader. Creative nonfiction can be used when writing a memoir, personal essay, literary journalism, or biography.

    One of my favorite authors, David Sedaris, is a genius when it comes to writing creative nonfiction. Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls are all collections of personal essays. They are funny, and extremely relatable, especially the way Sedaris sets each essay up; his use of creative literary styles truly made me feel as if I was reading a novel written about a nonfictional character.

    Creative nonfiction should involve planning. It is important to focus on which sections of your memoir or personal essay you will be adapting this unconventional way or writing. Some sections that can benefit from adding creative style are the setting, character development, and voice/tone. But, be sure to hold the reader’s interest, include accurate information, and see how close you can get to the line that separates fiction and nonfiction without actually crossing it.

    Recently, creative nonfiction has become one of the most popular genres in publishing and literary communities. Publishers such as Random House and HarperCollins are seeking creative nonfiction pieces more than anything else. This form of writing has also become popular in academic communities and across the world. The New Yorker and Vanity Fair are two reputable publications where creative nonfiction can be found.

    Just like any other type of writing, creative nonfiction can be experimental. It may be uncomfortable at first to gate your imagination in this way, but it most definitely can be done. It is easiest to begin writing about yourself, or someone close to you, so that you are familiar with the subject and can differentiate what is fact and what is fiction. As long as the piece is focusing on the real, don’t be afraid to try different paths, there is a good chance you will end up with creative nonfiction that you are proud of.

    If you would like to read more tips and the different types of pieces that creative nonfiction can be applied to, click here.

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    Short Stories

    Short stories are great for writers who don’t want to commit to a novel but still want to produce characters and plots that evolve over a shorter amount of time. The formal definition of a short story, pulled from various online resources, is a fully developed theme that is shorter than a novel and usually written in narrative prose. I prefer to view them as “mini novels.”

     

    Short stories tend to be under 10,000 words, and if you go over, you may be on your way to creating a novel. The freedom to choose a topic adds to the excitement of writing a short story.

     

    When I was younger, I used to always write short stories. It began in second grade when my teacher encouraged us students to write freely during a designated writing time. But I didn’t stop there, I brought my ideas, and more, home with me after each day of school. I would hide away in my room, creating characters and storylines in my Hello Kitty journal, and wouldn’t come out until I had a story to share with my family.

     

    Creativity is such an important aspect when writing a short story because no one wants to read a piece that is going nowhere. The story needs a spark, otherwise readers won’t care to even give your piece a glance. But, though creativity may seem easy, it can also be dangerous. It’s hard to stop yourself from writing when you have come up with an awesome storyline and continue producing content. Reminder, if you are looking to write short stories, aim at a word count somewhere near 10,000.

     

    Although too much creativity can become “dangerous” (and I use the term dangerous loosely because it really isn’t all that bad) when writing a short story, it may lead to something greater. Perhaps you find that you wish to continue developing what was once a short story, and turn it into a novel. By attempting to write a short story, as an author, you may be able to find a story that has so much more potential and requires a much higher word count.

     

    Either way, take the risk. Create a character that is totally experimental to you or write about a topic you may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. As I learned in my English class at Drake University recently, it’s always okay to take the risk. You never know what type of outcome may become of it and if you don’t try, you may never know. Short stories are a great place to start, so get typing, there’s a story just waiting to be told.

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