Creative Writing at The New School

* Illustration Credit: Lisa Brown

Charlotte Slivka is from Manhattan and now lives in Brooklyn with her daughter, two cats and her partner (cast in order of appearance). She likes to think about the connections between nature and urbanity and the universal truths that bring these seemingly disparate experiences together. In her past life, she was a guitar player in a punk rock band

1. Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?

I really hate to do favorites. I know this question is designed for the readers to know who I am or where I stand in literature so I don't hate the question but I hate my inability to answer it. I think my favorite type of villain is someone I can see a little of myself in. Someone who got in a bad way but no one was there to help them in their downward spiral, their Villanous nature the result losing all the good tools on the way down. I suppose you wouldn't have a villain if there were some possibility of healing left in them and you need villains to show what struggling to be good looks like. Still, I can't help but feel for the villains. Human nature is so frail. We can all be villains at some point.

My favorite type of protagonist makes a lot of mistakes and almost gets killed a bunch of times. Like me. They make you cringe for them a lot in the reading so when they get something right you really feel proud, you feel it more then they do. My favorite type of protagonist wins when everyone says they can't. The underdog, the ALMOST VILLAIN! Human nature is so frail, it can go either way.

2. When did you know you were a writer?

I knew I was a writer when it became obvious I couldn't do anything else. I tried a lot of other things and resisted writing for a very long time. I come from a family of artists and everyone had their own artistic identities, so I thrashed around in the world looking for mine. I did a bunch of cool things but nothing ever felt as "true" as writing did. I had always journaled and wrote poems and then song lyrics when I was doing music, but I never pushed myself as a writer until after my daughter was born. And then it just stayed my secret, my ace in the hole (whatever that means). Finally, I came out to my mother with a piece I felt really spoke to who I was as a writer and I honestly have to say she was shocked. She gave me the permission I needed and I have not looked back!

3. What are you currently working on?

Family memoir, personal essay are the meat and potatoes of what I write but now and I'm working on infusing that writing with poetry so I guess I'm working toward Hybrid writing. I love the distillation of meaning that can happen in a poem, a single poem can hold an entire story. Some stories can't be told straight on, some stories need to be experienced. That's what I'm working toward. Also, I would love to be able to tell a straight Nonfiction story with facts and research, that is a HUGE challenge for me because I get really stuck in my head (in case you haven't noticed).

4 How has your writing process changed over the years?

I'm trying to work my way towards discipline and I'm trying to take myself seriously. I'm learning to trust myself and I'm learning to trust that my writing is good. Those beliefs help give me more confidence to take risks. When I just wrote for myself it didn't matter, I was not trying to impress anyone. Now that I go to school with the goal of creating public writing, I'm having to work through the steps of what is acceptable to other people with very conscious (and sometimes excruciating) writing. Where I am now? I'm trying to get back to my natural impulse but infused with intention, good grammar and punctuation.

5. Describe your writing style in one sentence.

Spillage in the sand that is then shaped with small hands.

Five Questions, by Nicole L. Drayton. Nicole is a writer, screenwriter and independent filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from The New School, and currently works for the university in the MFA in Creative Writing Program office.  

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