Caren Stuart is profoundly grateful that her parents never discouraged her desire to be a writer. Her mother had wanted to be a writer, but was successfully discouraged from that pursuit by her parents. Caren says, “My mother would have enjoyed this anthology before and during her Alzheimer’s and I feel like I’m honoring her memory by having a story in this collection.”
After her mother had lost the ability to read and communicate verbally due to Alzheimer’s, Caren says that during their visits, “I’d tell her about my day or week or about things that had happened a long time ago and when I’d run out of stories, I’d read poems to her and talk about what the poems made me think of. She’d smile or laugh, nod her head, pat my arm, enjoying the connection of the sharing of stories.”
Caren’s flash fiction, At the Crossroads, presents both a literal and figurative crossroads, describing an incident outside a diner at the crossroads of Loop Road and Old NC 29, and the direction strangers choose to take upon meeting.
Although she began writing the story from a photo prompt given to her during a workshop, she abandoned much of what she’d written except for the character—this man, she could not forget. Caren says, “that character magically percolated somewhere and with it, his story percolated too. Months later, I woke up with a vivid character in my head, telling me his story. I wrote down his story and polished it up just a bit.”
She believed he’d told her his entire story, but when encouraged to reconsider the ending of her story, she was “delighted to awaken the next morning with Umberto, now the main character, again in my head. I asked him if there was anything more to his story, and he shared that there was.” The story expanded based on this fictional character taking Caren into his confidence.
Caren finds her greatest challenge as a creator to be balance. She explains, “I’m a poet/wordsmith/artist/maker who’s been writing poetry and prose and making art and altered art since I was five years old! I’m constantly trying to not only balance my creating time between writing poetry, writing prose, making art, and making my jewelry and altered art ‘convoluted notions’ creations but also trying to balance my ‘creating’ time with my ‘tweaking’ time and my ‘sharing’ time.”
Her current energies are focused on putting together a poetry collection, a short story collection, and creating a portfolio of her artwork.
Caren is a woman who is passionate about the arts in all of its forms and the connections art allows us to make with ourselves and with each other. She’s currently hosting and serving as the Master of Ceremony for the monthly First Thursdays Take Five Poetry and Prose Open Mic events at Karma Boutique and Coffee Shop in Sanford, NC. Her literary citizenship also extends to compiling and distributing a free monthly newsletter, Items of Writerly Interest, which details upcoming poetry and prose-related events and opportunities of interest in the Central NC area.
To read more of Caren’s story, check out bit.ly/READFLASH
To stay up to date on Caren’s writing and artwork, visit her at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ConvolutedNotions
Anchala Studios, LLC is a micro press based in Chapel Hill, NC which selects projects appealing to broad audiences and which enrich the community. The Collection: Flash Fiction for Flash Memory is its first publication.