Member Spotlight – Kaylen Mallard

We’re pleased to spotlight Kaylen Mallard and her writing life. Thank you for helping us spread the word on how the KWG supports our writing community for writers at all stages of their writing journey

  1. How long have you been a member of the KWG? I rejoined in December 2018. I was a member of KWG when I lived in Knoxville previously in 2010.
  2. What is your day job? I’m the Chief Development Officer for Remote Area Medical.
  3. Are you part of a KWG writing group? Any team or project? I’m not currently a part of a KWG writing group, but I’d love to join a creative nonfiction group. In 2010 and 2011, I benefitted greatly from being a member a creative nonfiction writing group.
  4. What kind of writing do you do? Creative nonfiction, especially lyric essay and memoir
  5. What project are you working on now? From mid-2015 until mid-2016, I was able to take a year off for a series of writing residencies where I worked on a memoir project and wrote lyric essays. I’ve only worked on the project sporadically since that time, but I continue to work on lyric essays. 
  6. What is your writing goal? Now that I am back working fulltime, I would like to develop a writing practice where I could yield two or three polished essays a year. 
  7. Awards, prizes, or writer feel-good moments? I have a MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Montana, and I’ve completed four writing residencies, including at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and Madroño Ranch.
  8. Who inspired you to write? How did this person inspire you? My sophomore English teacher, Karen Cook, was the primary inspiration for my writing. She led the Creative Writing Club at North Side High School in Jackson, Tennessee and encouraged me to write. She also required all of her sophomore English students to keep a creative writing journal, and I remember trying to steal time in other classes to write in the journal. Another major inspiration was a Description class taught by the poet Joanna Klink at the University of Montana. In the class, Klink had us focus on detail and sensory images. On one smoky day (during a particularly bad Montana fire season), I spent 20 minutes examining every detail of a bee. Exercises like that one transformed my writing. 
  9. If you are in a KWG writing group, how has it helped? I’m not currently in a KWG writing group, but I was in 2010/2011, and it helped me both produce writing and think more about my writing. As many writers know, if you don’t have feedback from others, it can be hard to improve your work. Having designated time each month to provide and receive thoughtful feedback was immensely helpful. I would not have secured funding for my MFA program without the support of my KWG writing group. 
    Do you have any writing rituals, favorite snacks or times/places to write? Walking. Walking, especially in a new or different landscape, is one of my favorite ways to generate new ideas for writing or just get myself into a creative mindset.  
    What helps when you get stuck? Changing location—going for a walk, changing rooms, doing a short chore, anything that gives me a short break from my writing. 
    What are your favorite excuses for not writing? Energy. I’m never short on time, but I very often don’t feellike writing. I don’t seem to want to enter into a creative headspace even though every time I do, I’m grateful for it. 
    What’s the best thing you’ve read lately? Ordinary Light: A Memoirby Tracy K. Smith; Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore; and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.
    What is your secret talent? I’m a decent vegan baker. 

Since 2008, Kaylen Mallard has worked in nonprofits focusing on communications and fundraising. Currently, she serves as the Chief Development Officer for Remote Area Medical (RAM) where she leads all of RAM’s communications and fundraising initiatives. Mallard has a MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Montana, and her writing has been featured in Verde Que Te Quiero Verde: Poems after Federico Garcia Lorca,Gulf Stream Literary Journal, and Hippocampus Magazineamong others. She has completed writing residencies at Madroño Ranch, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts,  Art Farm, and ArtCroft Center for the Arts.