Katherine C. Sinback
Oyster River Pages: What is the first creative piece that made you cry?
Katherine C. Sinback: My fourth-grade teacher read Where the Red Fern Grows aloud to the class. At the end of the book when—spoiler alert—the protagonist Billy’s dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, are gravely wounded while protecting him from a mountain lion, tears sprung to my eyes. First Old Dan dies from his wounds then days later Little Ann dies from a broken heart. By the time Billy plants a red fern between the dogs’ graves to honor their devotion, I was a blubbering mess. The kid in front of me turned and asked with curled lip, “Why are you crying? It’s just a story.” I felt embarrassed to cry in front of my classmates, but at the same time I thought it strange that they didn’t cry.
ORP: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better artist as an adult, what would you do?
KCS: I would take better notes. I started keeping a journal in the seventh grade. Ten years later when I started to write fiction, I thought my old journals would be a treasure trove of stories and details from that time of my life. Instead I found pages and pages of overwrought poetry and lists of feelings without any sort of description or details. I’m depressed. I’m happy. He doesn’t like me. She’s such a bitch. Reading the journals for information about my adolescent years is like trying to drive with a Vaseline-smeared windshield.
ORP: If you could tell your younger creative self anything, what would it be?
KCS: Be present in the moment. Watch, listen, write, experiment, and keep the faith in your artistic vision. Above all, persist.
ORP: What does becoming a “better” writer or artist look like to you? How do you define success?
KCS: Being a better writer is stretching beyond the subjects, forms, and characters that I’ve already explored and finding ways to write about human experience that are both novel and grounded in real life. To shed new light on common experiences through language.
My definition of success continues to evolve. After I wrote my novel, I thought success was getting it published so that I wouldn’t have to work a day job. Supporting myself as a writer seemed the mark of success. Several years later, my book remains unpublished and I am happily employed at a day job that doesn’t zap my creative energy. Right now, my definition of success is to keep writing, to remain open and attentive to the characters and stories that come to life when I pick up a pen, and to connect with readers.
ORP: What are you currently working on?
KCS: I am writing a second draft of a novella, which is the final piece in a trilogy of connected stories. Lurking in my “To Revise” pile are a dystopic flash fiction piece and an essay about my failed attempts to attract groupies when I was in a band.
Katherine Sinback’s work has appeared in The Rumpus, daCunha, Gravel, Clackamas Literary Review, The Hunger Journal, Writers Northwest, and Edging West. She publishes her zineCrudbucket and writes two blogs: the online companion to Crudbucket, and Peabody Project Chronicles 2: Adventures in Pregnancy After Miscarriage. Crudbucket was featured in the 2007 Multnomah County Library “Zinesters Talking” series and was included in the 2016 Alien She exhibit at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Born and raised in Virginia, Katherine lives in Portland, Oregon with her family. She can be found on Twitter @kt_sinback and on her blogs Crudbucket: http://ktcrud.blogspot.com and the Peabody Project: http://peabodyproject2.blogspot.com.
Photo by Isaac Harrell.