Member Spotlight – Nancy Vala

We’re pleased to spotlight Nancy Vala 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 moved to Knoxville in the fall of 2018 after surviving eight years of winter in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Joining KWG was one of the first things I did when I got here

  2. Are you part of a KWG writing group?
    I was recently asked to be a writing partner with another KWG member. I’m very excited about that!

  3. What kind of writing do you do?
    I write poetry and fiction. I’m also a singer-songwriter.

  4. What project are you working on now?
    I’m writing a mystery novel and experimenting with making visual art into a form of literature that is unique to me. I’m also working with a local jazz guitarist/composer on songs.

  5. What is your writing goal
    To communicate what is essential with a dash of art and humor.

  6. A writer feel-good moment
    I was attending a three-day writing workshop with Lynda Barry and she asked me if I was a ‘writer writer’ meaning a published author. That was wildly encouraging to me. 

  7. Who inspired you to write?
    As a child, I watched my grandmother sit at her desk and write out by hand the story of her life. After she died, I typeset and formatted her story into a book for friends and family. It was so well written! And she only went through the 8th grade.

  8. What KWG programs have stood out for you?
    I’ve just been in the In-Depth Fiction Workshop with Elizabeth Genovise where seven writers critiqued each other’s work. It was a difficult thing to do but I learned so much from it!

  9. What is your writing ritual?
    I will write anywhere (and scribble on anything) but I love to write on my deck in the morning, up in the trees, with the birds. Must have coffee, definitely.

  10. What helps when you get stuck?
    Take a walk and/or take a nap.  Sometimes I will write character studies as poems just to think of characters in a different way or to try and find the essence of a particular character.
  11. What is the best thing you’ve read lately?
    ‘The Friend’ by Sigrid Nunez. When I finished I wanted to read it again immediately.

  12. What is your secret talent?
    I’m good at arranging flow patterns in a room. That’s my excuse for rearranging the furniture!

Nancy Vala grew up in a small town in Iowa, left there and started travelling, never staying in one place long until her heart said Knoxville was home. Her travel memoir, “On Down the Road” was published in Best Women’s Travel Writing. She received a writing residency from the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, AK. She misses her two lovely daughters, one in Alabama, the other in Oregon. Nancy is working on a mystery novel and experimenting with combining visual art and literature.