When did you start writing?
I always wrote in Czech, my native language, I enjoyed writing short stories. When I was about 6 years old my very first writings were educational materials and menus for my cats. I actually put a whole book together, it contained daily menus pictures and a lot of healthy vegetables and desserts for cats to eat from Monday to Sunday.
What inspires you? Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is all around me. Being a nurse, living in New York City I come home every day with a story. I also take inspiration from my life growing up in a small farming village under communism.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think that a good story must have a little bit of a mystery, to leave something out so I start thinking about it and want to know more. A good story must not tell it all, it should have something between the lines. A good story should also transport me somewhere else or change me into someone else for a moment so I forget that I am sitting at home and reading a book.
What are some of your favorite books, tv shows, movies?
Some of my favorite books are by Milan Kundera, Bohumil Hrabal, Lucia Berlin, and William Saroyan. I love films by Krzysztof Kieslowski, Werner Herzog, Milos Forman and Tim Burton. I do not watch many TV shows, but the few I saw and enjoyed are “Call the Midwife,” “The Knick” and “Six Feet Under” and of course “Sex and the City.”
Tell us about your writing process.
I write by hand, in my notebooks. I have a few at the same time, a bit disorganized. Sometimes I write something that I think is great and later on, to my surprise, I find it in my other notebook already written. I leave it for a few days and come back to it to combine, re-write, and edit. Then I input it into my computer, a process I still struggle with because I am a painfully slow typist. Then I come back to my writing to edit a few days, or sometimes a few weeks later. I struggle with editing, often not sure whether I edit too much or not enough. I am not sure of many things, but I know when my writing is good because it feels good. At least for that day, I might come back to it the next day and re-write it again. I do not really know what I am doing, but it is fun. I am enjoying the creative process and the feeling that I am in charge of my writing and I can go wherever I want to go with it.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned from writing?
The most surprising thing I learned from writing is that it is hard work. I thought that I could sit down and write a perfect story, just like that, in one sitting and not have to change it. I do not know if other people have that ability but it did not work for me. And sometimes my writing just takes over, I think that I would write about one thing but it starts taking me in a different surprising direction and I let that happen, I learned not to force it and just follow the flow.
How did you become involved with the Writers Guild Initiative?
I took the writing workshop offered by my nursing union- New York Professional Nurses Union (NYPNU) partnering with the Writers Guild Initiative. As a pandemic frontline worker, I thought that the workshop would help me to write about the difficult times during the pandemic, to help me to cope with some very challenging emotions associated with it, but to my surprise, it was much more.
How did participating in a WGI (Writers Guild Initiative) workshop help your writing? After moving to New York City and starting to learn and speak English I did not have the confidence that I could write fiction in English. Taking the workshop made me realize that I can write and the time to write is now. I stopped waiting to have better English or more time and I started to write regardless of not feeling ready and not knowing what I am really doing. The WGI workshop helped me to overcome the barrier of English being my second language, and just start writing. WGI encouraged me to believe in myself being a writer and develop my own writing style guided by my unique experiences as an individual.
How do you juggle writing with your work as a cardiovascular nurse?
Being a nurse, finding time to write is quite challenging especially because I work 12-hour shifts and my schedule is constantly changing. Many years of nursing taught me how to be flexible and prioritize, so I try to find a time whenever I can and write every week regardless of how hectic my work week was. Some weeks are easier than others, but I always come back to it. To me, writing is fun, never a chore and the beauty of it is that I can delete and start all over again if I make a “mistake”. Maybe that’s why I find it relaxing because my profession has no room for that.
Any advice or tips you’d like to offer?
Don’t wait, just do it! There is never a perfect time to start writing. I believe that every one of us has so many beautiful stories to tell and it would be a shame not to share them with others.