In conversation with Natalie Wolf

Our readers would like to know your inspiration (or story, if any) behind When I Told My Cat He Couldn’t Go Outside.

I don’t completely remember what originally made me start writing the piece. What I do remember was that I was writing with a friend, and I wanted to write something humorous. I then got distracted writing out this list and thinking of more and more ridiculous things for the cat to do. I probably had the vague influences of other humorous list pieces and my own cat’s obnoxious behavior in the back of my mind.

Tell us more about your creative process in general.

I feel like my process varies depending on what I’m working on. Sometimes for poems, I’ll start with a group of images or ideas and write them all down on the page, and then work to find connections and turn them into a piece. For fiction, I’ll often start with one specific idea and then develop it into a story. Occasionally, I’ll write something quickly and only do minimal edits afterwards (that was actually what happened with this piece), but often I’m going back and editing things for months or even years.

Do you have any creative influences? What do you like the most about their work? Does it have a discernible effect on your writing?

It’s less relevant to this piece, but I really admire the speculative short fiction of Ted Chiang. I love how he takes specific concepts like variational principles of physics and religious miracles and uses them to develop detailed worlds for his stories. It’s certainly something that I would love to be able to emulate in my own writing. For this piece, I feel like my biggest influences were probably the strange and silly children’s books and cartoons that I’ve consumed in my life, and another humorous list piece called Things to Try that Might Knock Out the Virus by Richard Prins that appeared in Rattle back in 2020.

Are there any creative genres, forms, themes, techniques etc. you wish you could employ in your writing which you haven’t yet?

I have mostly written fiction and poetry, but I would like to explore writing more nonfiction. I’m also always in awe of people who can write good contrapuntal poems. I haven’t been able to work up the nerve to try writing one myself yet.

What are you looking forward to in your creative career?

I am hoping to pursue a graduate degree in creative writing, and I am very much looking forward to that if it happens!

Natalie Wolf is a writer and educator from Kansas City. She is a co-founder and co-editor of Spark to Flame Journal and an editor for Ambidextrous Bloodhound Press. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Popshot Quarterly, Pink Panther Magazine, Unbroken, Right Hand Pointing, I-70 Review, and Live Ideas Journal.