“My writing takes me down paths to revisit things I’m still working through.”
A member of the Writers’ League since last summer, Spike lives in Garfield, Texas at the Tiny T Ranch.
Spike Gillespie: Primarily I’m a memoirist and essayist. Often my work gets classified in multiple categories — memoir/self-help, memoir/feminism, memoir/spirituality. I was also a freelance journalist for 25+ years and wrote a ton of features for magazines and newspapers.
Scribe: What authors would you like to have coffee or a beer with and which beverage?
SG: Louisa May Alcott and Elvis Costello. I would desperately love to have many pints of beer with them, but since I’m in my 17th year of sobriety I would have to show restraint and stick with coffee or club soda and bitters with a lime.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
SG: The Feeling Buddha by David Frazier.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
SG: I gave a talk at a conference last year and I was really impressed by the connections people were making. Not just networking, but connecting on a level of resonance and supportiveness.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
SG: I used to write so much so often. Now I write less often. This is in part because I no longer use writing to pay my bills, at least not as my main source of bread and butter. So my writing takes me down paths to revisit things I’m still working through, like past trauma. And it also allows me to sort my thoughts and feed the false sense of control I’m so fond of conjuring. I love doing little thumb vignettes on Facebook — stuff I whip out as the muse is singing to me, whilst sitting in a parking lot or wherever. Just write up a tiny story very quickly, include a picture, and publish. I’ve done lots of writing where revision revision revision was the rule. I still write that way sometimes, of course. But I’m a fan of the immediate tiny essay. Also, my writing constantly leads me to other writers, many of whom sign up for my memoir workshops. So writing, while very much a solo sport, brings me a wonderful community.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
SG: I’m proud to say that I’ve been sort of a pre-editor/writing coach for Dr. Catherine Musemeche, who wrote an amazing book called Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery. It’s an incredible book and follows the journey of the tiniest patients and how their lives are saved by incredible surgeons using cutting edge techniques.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
SG: I’m so excited to be living at the Tiny T Ranch, which came into my life rather randomly. I’m using the space for salons and writing retreats, and also offering rooms for writers who want to come and stay for a weekend, a week, or more to have super quiet space out in the country to fully focus on their work. I’m documenting my journey of transitioning to country mouse over at www.ranchspike.com Also I lead ongoing six-week memoir writing workshops both in town and out at the ranch. More info on that is at www.writewithspike.com