Claire Taylor is a writer in Baltimore, Maryland where she lives with her husband and young son. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications and has received nominations for Pushcart Prize and Best American Short Stories. Her debut chapbook, Mother Nature, a hybrid of poetry and short prose on the topic of motherhood is currently seeking publication. In addition to writing for adults, Claire is the creator of Little Thoughts, a monthly print and digital newsletter of stories and poetry for children. Claire serves as an In House Agent for Versification Publishing and a volunteer reader with Capsule Stories.
Who and what inspires you?
These days I tend to draw inspiration from small observations. The way the birds flock to the feeder in the morning; my child racing his toy cars across the floor; a fleeting feeling of desperation that washes over me late in the afternoon when I have to come up with a plan for dinner. I try not to discard any moment or feeling as being too brief or inconsequential to build on. I write a lot about motherhood and mental illness and am always inspired by people who are vulnerable and honest about their struggles. More generally in my writing, I continue to be inspired by my father's emphasis on always having a project in the works, something you are working on just for the pleasure of creating it. I started my newsletter Little Thoughts because I wanted a project that would bring a sense of joy and direction to my days during the pandemic. At times it has been hard to access the feelings of lightness and fun that are needed when writing for small children, but having to continually make space in my mind for that project and that style of writing has been immensely helpful in keeping me moving forward over the past year.
How do you find time to write as a parent?
I write during my son's nap and right after he's gone down for bed. I write in the mornings if I have the time and energy, and I rely heavily on audiobooks and the podcast Kids Short Stories to keep him company while I fit in little bits of writing throughout the day. And to be completely honest, I often make him wait for my attention longer than I probably should, repeatedly telling him, "one more second," or "just a moment," while I jot down a story idea or a few lines for a poem. There are days where I am not as present when I'm with him as I probably should be because on those days I am more present for myself and for my writing and it's simply not feasible to be both. I try to give myself the grace to be a lesser version of the mom I'd like to be at least some of the time when my desire to write feels especially urgent.
Which writing activities kickstart your writing when you're struggling?
If I am really in a block I'll set up a new Word doc as a journal and write down little observations, feelings and experiences from my days. Later I go back in and see if anything I've written can be mined for a longer piece or as the catalyst for a poem. I try to write down every line or scene that pops into my head no matter how raw or ridiculous it might seem in the moment. I figure if it's pushing through all the noise of the day to get my attention, it's worth getting it down on paper and seeing what might come from it at a later point. I also will take pictures on my phone throughout the day during periods where I have less time for writing or am just feeling very blocked. Then I'll go back and see if any of the photos spark new ideas.
You can find her online at clairemtaylor.com and Twitter @ClaireM_Taylor.