Katie M. Zeigler’s 100 word microfiction, “Expectations”, will appear in the fourth issue of The Centifictionist (Vol. 2, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2021). Katie graciously answered a few brief questions for us. Read the interview below.
1. What inspired the story “Expectations”?
I’m in love with Elizabeth Gravers’ short story, “Mourning Door.” It’s such a hauntingly poignant portrait of a woman wrapped in the hope and grief of conception. I teach it in my creative writing class and one of my students asked what would happen to the story if the genders were reversed. How this story would differ if it was a man struggling with fertility and pregnancy. It was such a powerful question – with so many different responses to consider. And I thought it could be so interesting to capture just one of those many possible scenarios. “Expectations” was borne from that. Pun intended.
2. What inspires you and your writing?
I love small moments. All the delicious stuff happens in the spaces in between. Picking up on snippets of conversation; those little behaviors in others that are ripe for interpretation. Once, I was driving through a grocery store parking lot, and saw an elderly couple walking slowly and feeding each other slices of clementines they had peeled in their hands. If that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is! And music is incredibly inspiring to me – I have a playlist for every piece of fiction I write. It’s a great way to get immediately into the mind space of the specific world you’re creating. I’m quite superstitious that way – playlists, particular coffee mugs, certain candles burning. My students are also such a wonderful source of inspiration – I’m so incredibly fortunate to work with young writers as they develop their voices and confidence in their work.
3. What keeps you going when experiencing times of misery and despair?
My family is the core of my happiness – they keep me inspired and laughing and humble. And I think I’m incredibly motivated and soothed by possibility. The books I haven’t read yet, the songs I haven’t heard, the short stories I haven’t written yet. When I’m anxious or sad, I try (I’m not always successful, but I try…) to remember what is ahead and how fortunate I am to have love around me.
4. What advice do you have for microfiction writers?
I like to think of microfiction as a fingerprint. It identifies exactly what makes your story special and significant, but one has to read it closely and decipher it well to understand the whole body. For me, the act of writing microfiction is seeing the entire story in my head, but only allowing the reader to see that fingerprint. It’s a very intimate act between writer and reader – and such an exciting genre to work with.
Katie M. Zeigler is a writer and professor living in Walnut Creek, CA. She has had short stories, flash fiction, and nonfiction published in Digging, Griffel, Stanford Magazine, and Fish Anthology. She was a Tin House YA Workshop participant in 2021 and was recently featured on In Short: The Story Podcast. Zeigler teaches creative writing at Diablo Valley College while pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at St. Mary’s College. Visit her at katiemzeigler.com and on Twitter @katiemzeigler.