We had the good fortune of connecting with Carol Test and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carol, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
“The creative adult is the child who survived,” said author Ursula K. Le Guin. This has been a guiding light for my artistic evolution. As a creative writer, I’m obsessed with how artifacts, images, and language hoarded in family systems reveal—and hold the potential to heal—generational trauma. A Complex-PTSD survivor and young adult cancer thriver, I know it’s vital not only to reflect lived experience when writing trauma narratives, but also to recognize that within the telling of any story lies the key to unlocking mechanisms by which people survive.
This work feels more necessary now than ever, as the world collectively undergoes traumatic shifts.
As a result, I recently took the leap from fiction-writing into hybrid genres. My current project, NATURAL DISASTER, is a lyric memoir in collage form—comprising everything from poems and epigenetic studies to board games and erasures of insurance claims.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Beyond my own work, I’m passionate about combining science-based process tips with craft expertise to help authors get projects publication-ready. My virtual consultancy The Writing Cycle offers editing and coaching services nationwide.
Right now, I’m excited about my new course, “Healing Trauma via Hybrid Forms.” After all, literature holds profound therapeutic promise. Yet, during trauma, memory becomes scattered and submerged. So:
– How do you tell a story without a simple beginning, middle, and end?
– How do you share a story that isn’t yours alone?
– How do you write when language gets lost?
In my February 18th seminar at the virtual Desert Nights, Rising Stars Conference, we’ll explore the roots of types of trauma, along with creative ways to approach trauma narratives via sensory and collaborative means. Register at https://piper.asu.edu/. Prefer one-on-one coaching or editing? Visit The Writing Cycle or email caroltest(at)writingcycle.com.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Safety is the new sexy, so 2021 is all about healthy distancing, without sacrificing joy. During summer months stand-up paddle board (SUP) the Salt River to get your fix of water and wildlife. Nearby NoSnow rents boards and Tonto passes, while Saguaro Guest Ranch offers kayak tours for those who prefer to adventure sitting down. Artistically-inclined? The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing offers weekly online writing courses; their annual Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers’ Conference each February has been voted one of the nation’s best. (Bonus: this year, it’s all-virtual.)
For eats, great local takeout is the name of the game. North Phoenix’s Dori Ramen has a spicy bowl called the Shin Jong Illest — they even sell the #1-ranked sake (from an AZ distillery, no less). Esso Coffee is nearby for a lavender or bee pollen double espresso. And Chula Seafood now has multiple locations delivering make-it-yourself fresh fish taco and sushi kits for at-home delish.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
When I was 25, I came across Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY, advocating a compassionate approach to writing and creative living. Quotes that inspire to this day:
- “The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be an artist. The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all.”
- “Progress, not perfection, is what we should ask of ourselves. Ask: Am I letting myself do the kind of writing I want today, or am I using fears about making a living, or about the critical reception of the work, to avoid doing the work?”
- “The real question is not, “What if I make bad art?” The real question is, “What if I am talented beyond my wildest dreams? What kind of tragedy would it be if I have the authentic gifts to create and have not, in this lifetime, been able to use them?”
Other: Live poetry reading for the 2020 Piper Creative Writing Center Showcase: https://asuclas.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3BOM5n3a9hNCsmN https://fb.watch/2oNAirnmbY/
Carol Test, The Writing Cycle LLC Holly Moxley, Designer