Goldfish Grimm: If we could peek into your office (coffee shop, kitchen table, wherever you write), what would your writing process look like?
Arwen Kuttner: I have a desk near a window that looks out on the street. Lately that’s where I intend to write and sometimes find the time to do it. Unfortunately, the rest of the room is utter chaos as this is the room in the house where all of my personal stuff that has no use for the rest of the family goes — an old handmade dollhouse, two shelves of writing journals, my books, teaching materials, old artwork piled up and so on. A summer project is to straighten the place up a bit.
GFG: What is it actually like?
AK: Actual writing often happens while I’m on the couch with a laptop in my lap. Either way, my best writing time is first thing in the morning or at night. I’m a morning person and recently gave myself the challenge to write 10 minutes when I first arose each day instead of waiting for night when I could carve out time for a longer slot but with less frequency. It was impressive how much I got done that month. Also important, I joined an online writers group about two years ago. Every month we’re expected to submit two pieces of writing and critique a least four. Both the quantity and quality of my writing has skyrocketed since joining them.
GFG: Was there anything in particular that inspired “The Mirror”?
AK: I’ve always been a lover of fairy tales and hugely defensive of what they should be rather than what they’ve become. They are not a jumble of cutesy princesses posing to sell merchandise. They are dark tales that uncover and explain our inner psychology. Stepmothers really represent our own loving mothers when they are not as ideal as we’d like them to be. Moms in real life sometimes lose their tempers and yell or demand things. As a mother myself now of a young child I find myself thinking of the times I fail to be the ideal mother. In a fairy tale a wicked stepmother is absolutely evil, but in the nuances of real life, many of us realize we can be good one moment and not so good the next. This story is about that moment when a young mother says, “oh my gosh, I’m becoming my mom!”
GFG: Snow White’s moment of realization at the end of this tale is profound. While the stepmother was expecting her, do you think this gives Snow White a greater understanding of her stepmother? Or, are the stepmother’s words purely said out of spite?
AK: Characters like the stepmother, as evil as they are, stem from something real — in this case, a mother growing older and feeling jealousy towards the younger generation. In order to understand the story, you have to understand the motivation behind the characters and like many evil characters, this Stepmother is glad to finally be understood. Sure, she tried to murder her stepdaughter, but I suppose she thinks any wicked mother figure in her position would do the same. Spite? If so, just a speck. It’s taken awhile for Snow White to have some sympathy for her after all these years.
GFG: Do you have anything you’d like to plug or promote?
AK: My writing pops up in a lot of different genres. To name a few, I blog for an education blog called Powerful Learning Practice. I’ve had fiction published at Fiction365 . If you like the fairy tale theme, check out my poetry anthology called Gathering Pieces . There are some fairy tale poems in there. Right now I’m working on my first novel. Ask me about that in a year or so.
Arwen Kuttner is originally from Oregon. She currently finds herself in New Jersey parenting, teaching, volunteering and writing, sometimes all at the same time. Publications include blog posts at Powerful Learning Practice, fiction at Fiction365 and an anthology of poetry called Gathering Pieces. She can be found on LinkedIn.