Up Close With: Molly Ovenden
Meet the wonderful writers and patrons behind LWS.
This week we meet one of the newer members of the Writers Hour host team, but she already feels like she’s been here forever. Her warm smile, boundless enthusiasm, infectious positivity (and Minnesottan accent) makes everyone feel welcome whenever she’s at the helm of a Pacific or NZ session. She’s just released her first book, a collection of spiritual reflections for writers which was largely written in our sessions, and is a creative coach and an all-round wonderful human. It’s Duluth’s finest — it’s Molly Ovenden!
- Born in 1987, making her 35 years old
- Based in Duluth, Minnesota, USA
- Adding Midwestern charm as a writers hour host
What do you write?
So many things. Free writing science fiction (with sci-fi — ANYTHING can happen…so much fun to play with this); a series of Thomas Goodun contemporary realistic fiction novels; spiritual reflections; personal essays. I want to write more poetry — just dabbling at the moment. I write encouragements and teaching content for my clients, members, students. I love writing prompts — and in response to prompts (hence the science fiction)…
What are you working on right now?
…a companion journal to my book that was released on 30 June 2022, Closer: Spiritual Reflections for Writers & Thinkers.
Much of the feedback from reviews and people on my launch team really loved all of the reflection questions and writing prompts. I’ve responded to this by creating an intentional journal book of prompts to help the reader dig deeper into the concepts brought up in the book. Although it’s meant as a companion, the prompts are open-ended so the writer could use the journal as a prompt to explore a character’s thoughts and motivations from a different angle. It may draw up material for a personal or opinion essay piece, or maybe poetry…or simply add to a daily writing practice.
I’m also prepping for new courses (starting in August/September 2022) — playing with poetry, write for fun, and getting started in particular genres, and intro to marketing for authors. Very excited!
Where and when do you write?
I write in coffee shops, in my apartment at my old enamel-topped table in the corner of my living room, during my class session free writing times, during LWS Writers’ Hour — usually Kiwi Hour and Pacific Hour. When the weather is nice outside, I’ll sit on the deck and write there, too. I also just bought an old road bike (yesterday! lol) and I’m excited by the vision of me ambling along nicely-paved bike paths along Lake Superior and stopping off with my picnic and coffee, taking my notebook from the bike basket and being so inspired. I really try to write whenever I can in between business, operations, and marketing tasks…many a NaNoWriMo has been completed via middle of the night writing, though — 11pm-2am can be a really fruitful time.
How do you write?
I prefer writing caffeinated. When I’m free-flowing with ideas on my own projects, I prefer to write by hand with a nice-flowing pen. AMUJI navy blue 0.5mm is my ideal — in a MUJI notebook with their silky smooth pages and tan covers.
When I’m doing freelance client work, I do it on my computer to try to make it go a little faster and save time.
After trying NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time years ago by hand (and then typing up to get the word count), I realised I needed to make myself learn how to compose on the computer for efficiency — and legibility.
Sometimes when I’m composing on my laptop, I’ll stare off out the window while I type, or I’ll close my eyes and type — I am of the era when instant messaging was just starting so I learned how to type really quickly and accurately as a pre-teen with numerous windows of conversations open at once. Never knew that would become as useful of a skill as it is for me now 20+ years later.
When I’m working on a specific project, like for my companion journal, I’m writing in my MUJI notebook by hand, and I’ll be (for the first time) typing into my formatting software, Atticus, to save on the copy and paste stage. I’ll be doing some of the formatting work while I’m typing up. Then, essentially, I’ll print out the PDF copy, make any edits by hand, and type the edits afterward. I’ll send the PDF to my editor for fresh eyes, and then it’ll be formatted and good to go to upload to Ingram Spark for publishing and distribution.
I’m also in the really slow, when-I-feel-like-it phase of going through old notebooks and speaking them aloud to transcribe from handwritten to typed draft using the online software, Otter.
Why do you write?
I’ve always done it, is the easiest answer. My imagination is so active (I can’t watch scary movies because I “KNOW” it’s real…I don’t need help with my imagination) and I create stories involuntarily all the time. I see a couple of people walk through a coffee shop and I imagine what their important conversation is today. I see people on a walk and I imagine what their deepest desires and fears are. At weddings and public events with lots of strangers, I make up stories about their career ambitions, their type of house, how they feel about the event, and all sorts of details about their lives. As I’ve shared various things of writing with people over the years, I’ve had positive feedback that my stories are interesting and they want to read more, so that’s why I’m moving toward publishing regularly instead of simply the joy of writing. I’m sharing the joy now.
What inspires your creativity?
I love nature — trees, the sky with or without clouds, Lake Superior, looking at details of texture, colour, how the light moves between objects and hits the eye. I’m also a visual artist, so when I paint it informs my writing as I process the way the colours, line, and light all interact in my own work.
I’m endlessly inspired by watching my creative writing students and clients make progress in their writerly identity and writing life. Seeing their wins propels me to keep going.
Listening to people share their hearts or random musings from a dark corner of their minds is inspiring, too.
Reading or listening to stories, watching cooking shows, hearing other people’s projects…
And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that my personal relationship with Jesus absolutely inspires my creativity to the core. I really believe we humans are all made in the image of the Creator God, which means we are inherently creative, as our identity. And so, if we are all expressing creatively (through writing, painting, cooking, etc.) we are actually being our true selves…and if we were all actually living life as our true selves…man…I just think the world would be a better place.
What’s your favourite book?
The entirety of the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith — he captures the inner workings of interpersonal and very personal thoughts, dynamics, of people living full lives in a fictitious address, but in a very real neighbourhood. One day I was in Edinburgh (where the books are set and where the author lived/lives) and I realised I was walking by certain places from the book (cafe, store, street names) that are real places; I felt giddy like a child. This place is real. And the author just has such a playful wit and sense of humour.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?
Just start. You have it in you. No one can ever say it, or do it, or make it from your point of view. And creativity never runs out. Once you share or create one thing, you instantly have something else bubbling up to be next. Create and never stop.
What’s the one thing you would tell other/aspiring writers?
If you have the desire to write, you can practice the drive to persevere to finish. Writing is real work, just like any other job, but it’s got this depth of allure of imagination. If you WANT to write, then WRITE. You can learn how to do it better as you go. Practice will never lead to perfection, but it will lead to confidence. The most empowering thing you can do is to take action. So, if you have the longing or intrigue to write, then get your words from brain to page and into the hands of readers who will devour them. One word at a time. Just write. The words will lead you where to go. One final encouragement: You ABSOLUTELY can BECOME the writer you’re made to be!
How can we discover more about you and your work?
My website, mollyovenden.com
On Instagram, here.
At my new Substack, here.
And to learn more about or purchase Closer: Spiritual Reflections for Writers & Thinkers, head to: