Welcome to Always Write, Irene Waters. I met Irene in June reading one of her marvelous book reviews. We chatted a bit and I found out that she was interested in photo and writing challenges. She agreed to tell you about her favorite challenges and also what it was like for her to host a challenge.
Thank you for for being here.
Irene Waters Interview
by Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist
What prompted you to begin to host a writing/photo challenge?
When the memoir challenge ended it left a hole which I decided to fill by running my own challenge with a twist. @Irene WatersTweet
I enjoy participating in both photo and writing challenges. For photos I love Cee’s challenges as well as Lens-Artists and Paula’s Five word challenges. Although these are predominantly photo challenges I can’t help but weave story, often memoir around the photos I post. I came to writing challenges later. The first was a memoir challenge (no longer happening) and then I found Carrot Ranch’s 99 Word Flash Fiction. When the memoir challenge ended it left a hole which I decided to fill by running my own challenge with a twist.
Was this one of your dreams?
I can’t say it was a dream to run my own challenge although it was a dream to share memoir with others who perhaps hadn’t considered memoir a pursuit of interest.
What was your purpose in hosting the challenge? How does it help photographers or writers?
I had hoped that the challenge would give us social insights into the way the world has changed between not only generations but also between geographical location. The prompt could be responded to in any form the participant enjoyed – prose, poetry, flash, photographs, sketches or any other form. I hoped that it would give both writers and photographers a way of writing/ displaying memoir and finding value in reading the differences and the similarities between generations and locations. I love it when a conversation starts and one post prompts memories in a reader/viewer previously forgotten.
How long have you been doing this?
The first challenge was in January 2016 and I stopped in 2019 when my husband and myself were both diagnosed with and undergoing cancer treatments.
How much time does it take?
I made it easy on myself and made the challenge monthly. I knew how much work was involved and I knew I was time poor. Don’t be fooled – people who run challenges put a lot of work into them.
If you stopped hosting the challenge, why was that?
As I have already mentioned I stopped due to health challenges but it was getting difficult to keep going anyway. Although it was only monthly it was difficult coming up with topics that would not cause anybody any angst.
Did you start a different challenge?
What would you do differently?
Do as the Lens’Artists – find a team of memoir enthusiasts and take turns in setting the challenge.
What steps did you take to get your challenge ready?
It was simply a matter of coming up with a topic and writing to the topic myself, posting and inviting people to join in. The challenge had been running only a short time when Charli from Carrot Ranch invited me to write a memoir piece monthly on her site with an invitation to readers to participate in my challenge. This certainly created an audience for Times Past which helped immensely.
How did you follow up with your participants?
I would get participants to leave a link on my site in the comments and then visit each of them leaving a comment on their site. Hopefully other participants also dropped by and read their work as well.
How did you attract people to participate? / How do people usually find out about your challenge? Are you a part of a group on social media that picks up your challenge and promotes it?
I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to social media. I have facebook, twitter and instagram accounts but I rarely visit them. I relied primarily on word of mouth so to speak and having the article on Carrot Ranch linked was a big plus for me.
Do you determine winners? If so, how?
I didn’t determine winners. I think everyone who enters any challenge is a winner – we all have our own stories and none are more worthy than the other. I must admit it is a buzz when you are chosen by Cee or Lens Artists as an example of work that appealed to them – but I don’t know that either of those challenges would consider them winners.
What do you do with the entries?
I have a Times Past page where there is a link to every challenge. It makes it easy for people to find them and follow links if they wish.
Given your experience with both hosting a challenge and participating in challenges do you think they are a valuable tool for writers and photographers?
Absolutely. Firstly for many challenges are a way that a writer or photographer can have their work viewed by others. It is also a way of honing skills and getting the creative juices working. Most importantly it is a way to meet like minded people and have conversations that you can only have with another writer or photographer. It may just be a meeting of minds that sees a friendship begin.
I hoped that it would give both writers and photographers a way of writing/ displaying memoir and finding value in reading the differences and the similarities between generations and locations. @Irene WatersTweet
Irene Waters published her memoir Nightmare in Paradise in 2019. She blogs at Reflections and Nightmares She is interested in memoir having completed a Master of Arts with her research thesis examining the difficulties a sequel memoirist faces. Another passion from childhood is photography. She enjoys combining writing and photography on her website. She lives with her husband and two dogs on the Sunshine Coast of Qld in Australia.
About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist
I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am – 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
Thank you, Thank you
Thanks again Irene for participating in the Blogging Challenge Series on Always Write.
As a side note, Irene is collaborating with me in the Rodeo Flash Writing Contest.