Women Writing: Carol Smallwood
Carol Smallwood graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a B.S. in 1961 and an M.A. in 1963. After working in the public schools in Michigan, she began her career as a school librarian in 1976, receiving her MLS from Western Michigan University. Carol had a long tenure with the Pellston Michigan School District, serving as both a media director and English teacher. She has also served as a library consultant both during and after her tenure at the Pellston schools. While Carol claims she is currently retired, she continues to teach and inspire with her impressive publication resume. Carol is the author/editor of 24 books and numerous columns, articles, short stories and poetry dating from 1980 to the present, including five books for the American Library Association.
Christine Redman-Waldeyer: Describe your recent publications as an editor.
Carol Smallwood: Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing (Key Publishing House, 2012) is by and for women writing about family. Writing After Retirement: Tips by Successful Retired Writers (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014) is by and for those deciding to write after retirement and of course raising children is a popular topic. Women, Work, and the Web: How the Web Creates Entrepreneurial Opportunities is forthcoming. [This anthology is] by women for women. Its contributors speak about how they manage [careers and] young children at home by working on the Internet.
CRW: Describe your poetry publications and your focus on what it is to be a woman in your work.
CS: My newest anthology is forthcoming from WordTech Editions, Divining the Prime Meridian. This one centers on a woman/mother perspective and ends with a poem, “Grandmother Said.” I’ve appeared in such magazines as The Writer's Chronicle, Mom Egg Review, 13th Moon, Iris, English Journal, and Phoebe. My first poetry anthology was the Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, 2004. I had the pleasure of watching my daughter thread her way successfully managing motherhood, marriage, and career, and the image of Superwoman often comes to mind as it did in my life.
CRW: Tell us about your career.
CS: My first of over four dozen [career moves] came about from teachers requesting classroom material. It was so enjoyable that I did another—and kept doing them for McFarland, Scarecrow, Libraries Unlimited, ALA and others. It wasn’t until much later that I returned to college to take creative writing classes and turned to fiction and finally to poetry. I taught myself how to write formal poetry. My first novel, Lily’s Odyssey, is about a mother caught up in changing social currents.
CRW: What recognition has encouraged you the most?
CS: Being in publications such as Who’s Who of American Women, and Contemporary Authors. Receiving a National Federation of State Poetry Societies Award & Pushcart nominations for fiction and poetry have provided validation. Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching, on Poets & Writers Magazine is on the list of Best Books for Writers. Many of the contributors are mothers as noted by Dr. Cassie Premo Steele: "Mentors, muses, mothers, and masters of language--they are all gathered herewith sage advice, hard won wisdom, and above all, writing that will sing to your heart and help you on your own path of writing, teaching and publishing."
CRW: How has the Internet benefited your work?
CS: I use it to gather contributors for my anthologies, find places to submit my work, and network with others. It is good to be included in Poets & Writers Directory of Writers and have an author page on amazon.com. An editor recently saw my work online and asked me to submit a poetry collection, Water, Earth, Air,Fire, and Picket Fences.
CRW: What advice do have for writers?
CS: That rejection teaches; that everything you write improves your writing and is never lost. My first short story didn’t get accepted until after many rejections and revisions. Try nonfiction, fiction, poetry; you won’t know until many submissions
what works for you and it is good not to limit yourself to one kind of writing although one genre will become more comfortable/find more acceptances.
CRW: Do you feel it is easier or harder for a woman to get her work out there?
CS: I tell women to use their experience being a mother as it provides invaluable insight; believe what you write is important. I’ve heard women say that their motherhood is their most challenging role and writing helps to understand it. It is still harder for a woman to get published and mothers need to be more disciplined to find time to write. As I noted in the preface of Women Writing on Family: In the often quoted Proust passage from, The Remembrance of Things Past: “When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the
immense edifice of memory.” I believe many women substitute family for “smell and taste,” [what comes from] their memory essentially through [having raised a] family.
CRW: What is your favorite quotation?
CS: We think back through our mothers if we are women, said Virginia Woolf.
Christine Redman-Waldeyer is the founder and managing editor of Adanna Literary Journal