Denise Thompson-Slaughter

 Motherly Musings is proud to present, Denise Thompson-Slaughter:

  1) Tell us a bit about the pieces you have in Motherly Musings.  What was the inspiration for your work, and do you have any comments or thoughts about your featured work that you would like to share with readers?

My children have been muses for me in more ways than one.  Although poems and stories directly about them, such as those appearing in Motherly Musings, are probably a minority of my writings, it was becoming a mother that got me writing poetry and short-short prose pieces again in the first place.  When the kids were young and massively time-consuming, I needed a way to still feel connected to writing, so it had to be a short form of literature!  That's what brought me back to poetry after about a 20-year hiatus.

  2) How long have you been writing and how did you get started?

I've always loved books and was a voracious reader as a child.  I started writing poetry in high school and continued for maybe ten years afterwards (during which I was slowly working my way through college at the University of Maryland and Rutgers University).  Then I underwent a sort of shift where I moved away from poetry and wrote only prose:  not-very-good short stories, children's stories, and beginning chapters of a couple of novels that never went anywhere.  But I've always been scribbling at something--even if it's just journal entries or recording dreams or wild ideas that I want to come back to later.

3)   In general, the pieces that appear in Motherly Musings are about parenting, mothers, or children.  Does this theme permeate your other writing? What other themes and ideas influence your work? 

Certainly becoming a mother at 41 was a profound mental, emotional, and spiritual shift for me, and that comes out in a lot of my writing.  Probably less than 20% of my writing is directly about being a parent, but indirectly, it has caused me to think a lot about my childhood, about my own parents, about families and mortality; and all these show up in my writing.  Other things I seem to write about a lot are metaphysics, time, spirituality, relationships, nature--and dogs!

4)  Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment?

Yes, I'm working on a second book of poetry, and I'm revising one of my two nonfiction manuscripts in hopes of finding a publisher.  Both are at least partially memoir.  The first is a book about the "paranormal," in which I recount inexplicable experiences I have had in my own life or that people I know have had and then I discuss the results of the latest research into the topic (say, precognitive dreams or ghosts) and try to understand it from both a scientific and a spiritual point of view.  I do believe the day is coming when science and religion will bridge the gap.  The other book is a family memoir centered around my mother's death from colon cancer in 1990.  I think I'll also need to revise that one more time if I decide to try to get it published.
5) What is your greatest challenge as writer?

My greatest challenge is probably managing my time better and just convincing myself that I don't need to have a two-hour block of free time to sit down and write something.  Having a half-time job, a family, and pets means I don't have a lot of time to write without intrusions.  I keep hearing about people who just sit down for half an hour and whip out five pages a day and end up with a whole book that way.  It takes me half an hour to get back into the mindset where I left off!    I've never written a novel, and I would love to write a mystery, so that's a big challenge that seems awfully daunting right now.  And I need to break my addiction to reading the newspaper every day, too, because that's probably the one time-killer that I have a choice over.

6)  What are you reading right now?  (Don't be shy--Good Night Moon and People Magazine count! :-)

I only get to read for 15 to 45 minutes before I go to sleep, but it is very important to me.  It helps me relax and get my mind off the day--but also tempts me to stay up too late.  Right now I'm reading a novel by one of the other Motherly Muse writers:  Susan Baruch's Paternity--and I'm enjoying it very much!  Other books I've recently read that I can recommend are Hannah Tinti's The Good Thief, Jeannette Walls' The Crystal Palace, and Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.  

7) Any final thoughts, advice, or comments you'd like to leave our readers with?

Thank you for being READERS! 
Something that's been hard for me to adjust to as a parent is that my kids simply do not and probably never will like to read--in spite of us having read so much to them as children, in spite of being surrounded by wonderful books, and in spite of their parents both being writers. (My husband is a university professor and has written a number of books on history.)  But I think it is inevitable that a generation that has grown up with a plethora of electronics and hundreds of TV channels is inclined to see reading more as school-work and less as recreation--and I doubt we would have been any different under the circumstances.  Still, I'm afraid that in the future, recreational readers will be a tiny percentage of the population.  You already see the effects of this in the publishing industry.  And where will that leave those of us who love to write? 

Denise Thompson-Slaughter is the author of Elemental (Plain View Press, 2010).  Many of her poems and a few of her nonfiction pieces have appeared in various literary journals.  She has worked for many years as an academic or a freelance editor and is currently the managing editor of the quarterly journal Reviews in American History at the University of Rochester.  She was recently chosen to receive the U. of R.'s 2011 Creative Excellence Award in the category for staff members for her poem "Pain Is Just a 4-Letter Word."

Denise grew up in Maryland and received a B.A. in English from Rutgers University.  She became a mother at the age of 41, when she and her husband adopted the first of two babies in the 1990s. She lives in Brighton, New York, with her husband and their two teenagers.

You can learn more about Denise and her work at her website,  Denise  A complete list of her publications can be found here.

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