Each year, the Writers’ Community hosts a Gala in which twenty Ball State undergraduates from all disciplines read their works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The Gala is a competition which produces three winners chosen by judges made up of Ball State creative writing faculty. We congratulate Thomas Dubach, Ashley Ford, and Joseph Samaniego on winning this year’s Gala. In addition to prizes including literary magazines, signed books, and even money, the winners of the Gala are awarded a reading in the spring semester. The 2012 Gala Winners’ reading will take place this evening, April 10, at 7:30 in AJ 175. In honor of this reading and the winners, we have invited each of the three to profile themselves via a short interview. Below is a feature on Ashley Ford, a predominately nonfiction writer.
*Photo taken and provided by Ashley Ford
Ashley Ford is caught up in this writing thing with little hope for escape. She is Blog Editor for Specter Magazine and a contributer to VouchedBooks.com. She has had work published in the 2011 edition of The Broken Plate, PANK 6, and an essay forthcoming on TheRumpus.net. She is working on her first book.

Can you tell me a little bit about the type or genre of writing you do most prominently? Further, do you recall developing an initial interest in this form of writing?

I have only published nonfiction pieces. I took an amazing nonfiction course with Professor Jill Christman about 2 years ago. It was magical. She might be a witch. A good witch, though. Like Glinda. I haven’t been brave enough to submit my fiction or poetry anywhere yet. But I’m getting there.

Each of you are engaged in Ball State’s creative writing program. Can you tell me how your education has affected your evolution as a writer and how you envision (or what you hope from) your future as a writer?
I can’t separate my writing life from my education. Sean Lovelace taught me just how possible publishing can be when you do your research; Jill Christman taught me to write with an open heart; and Cathy Day taught me the importance of being a literary citizen. Not to mention the countless other professors who come to readings, meetings, and other events to support the student writing community outside the classroom. They make huge investments of time in us. I’m trying to get them a return on that investment. I’m trying to make them proud.

Each of you has a very distinct voice and I would love to hear about where you draw inspiration. How are each of your pieces conceived and then consequently developed?
My inspiration comes from a lot of reflection. I spend a lot of time thinking about my life and how to draw the best thing from my struggles, which would be lessons. I ask myself a lot of questions I have no idea how to answer. Then, I write about them as honestly and as beautifully as I can. I don’t necessarily answer the question, but I turn my uncertainty into something tangible. It helps remove my fear of the subject, and hopefully, it helps me connect to the reader on a very wounded human level. Not broken, just a little wounded.

Finally, if there is anything, can you share what you find particularly challenging about your writing process? How do continuously overcome this challenge to produce new work?
I constantly have to remind myself that first drafts are not supposed to be perfect. It really helped to take a novel-writing course. When you have to write 50,000 words in one semester, you’ll learn quickly to just get the words on the page. Now, I give myself word goals. It helps.
-Interview conducted by Tyler Fields