For two years, writing coach Traci Moore directed Monsoon Voices, a submission-based reading series promoting Arizona writers and musicians. Her writing has appeared in Tiny Lights, Stumble, Emprise Review and elsewhere. Recipient of the 2012 Line Zero Editor’s Choice Literature Award, Traci is an MFA candidate in fiction at Pacific University.
Traci: “Reflections on Water” focuses on a time when I considered ‘swimmer’ my sole identity. As an adolescent immersed in the swim team culture—where I spent hours in swimming pools, and surrounded by supportive people—I never thought to separate my value as a person from my value as a member of a team. So the essay combines an admission of my naiveté with a small tribute to the people, and a note of gratitude for aging, because getting older has helped me define myself in new, more colorful ways.
Amoskeag: In developing your main and supporting characters, how do you see them losing or finding themselves?
Traci: At the beginning of the essay, the narrator reveals a sense of awe at being so close to the water and the team. But as she shifts from observer to athlete to former swimmer, questions arise. Without the water, who is she? Does she have a purpose? Her discomfort with answering these questions leads her miles and years away from the pool—to a point where she can look back on the experience and almost appreciate her youthful misconceptions.
Amoskeag: What is the one line, the one sentence in your piece that for you sums up the meaning of “identity?”
Traci: “I feel giddy enough to fly.” It’s the exclamation of a shy person shocked at her transformation into a strong person.
Amoskeag: How do you identify yourself as a writer — how did you get here? Who/what made you so? Where have you come from? What have you gone through?
Traci: Words and paper, pens and books have always intrigued me. Photography captured my interest for several years, but my images often seemed inadequate as storytelling devices, and I felt compelled to add words to every project. As an adult I made my way into creative writing classes, and loved everything I learned. Finally being honest about my identity as ‘writer’ has freed me considerably. I keep writing when I doubt my abilities, when the words flow, when readers like or don’t like what I create. How I came to this point? Many kind people, commitment, curiosity and oodles of mistakes.
Amoskeag: What lies ahead for you?
Traci: Right now I’m a graduate student immersed in writing, reading, critique, and working closely with an advisor. It’s as exhilarating as it is challenging! I have always enjoyed working with and encouraging other writers. I’ve begun to host casual writing workshops outside the classroom, and I’d love for this to continue. During or after my time in school, I’d like to try writing fiction in a longer form, one day publish a story collection, and put together an expansive essay on the subject of swimming.
To view an excerpt of Traci’s essay “Reflections on Water,” click here.