Patty A. Gray is (among other things) a writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly works.

My chosen art is verbal. I once tried drawing, until an artist friend described her own relationship to drawing: it was irresistible, she said, something she could do all day long and never notice the passage of time. Anything else was an affectation. Until then, I had thought my writing was an affectation, but in her words, I recognized myself: writing is my art.

I took a detour, though. At a loss for how else to ply my writing as a trade, I pursued academia, and oh yes, I wrote. I did research in far off places and wrote volumes of richly detailed fieldnotes. I wrote articles and a book, but when they were published, the best material had been left out. Writing felt wasted in academia, suffocated. To resuscitate it, I had to get out. I am now relearning a new style of writing and publishing.

I write as a pipeline to a deeper well within me that I cannot otherwise tap; when I am writing, a vein is opened, and while it is flowing, gunk is flushed out and something fresher—maybe brighter, maybe darker, but always fresher—makes its way to the surface. My art is to shape the flow of words into stories that make meaning—one kind of meaning for myself, other kinds of meaning for my readers. I crave the buzz of capturing place and character and situation in language that is delicious and lyrical and just a bit opaque. Because I don’t really want to tell; I want to evoke, and open someone else’s vein.


Mittie Medina


Alan Cummings