Tiny Talks with Renee Cronley

Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Renee Cronley from our tenth issue.

Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?

Renee Cronley: What I read, and everyday life, is enough to fuel my imagination.  I don’t think it’s possible for me ever to be stuck in a ‘creativity rut’. I might stumble on a mental block while I am focusing on a story or poem and if I can’t get past it, I will put in aside for a while.  Exercising sometimes helps, like going for a run or a brisk walk.  I also find switching up artistic mediums to be helpful, like painting, sewing, cross-stitching, scrapbooking, etc., which I find help create new creative channels to work around the block.  It can open a floodgate too.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends that you look up to?

Renee Cronley: Quite a few.  All the writers that inspired me to write from a young age: Francine Pascal, R. L. Stine, Christopher Pike, L. J. Smith, Stephen King, Anne Rice.  Later in life: Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, Shakespeare, W. B. Yeats, Catriona Ward, Ruth Ware, Marissa Meyer.

And the strong support system of writers that I have had the privilege of learning from and leaning on:

Sharmon Gazaway, who shares my love for haunting stories and poetry and spends each day working diligently on her novel while still managing to submit poetry and short stories with me. We share our gains, losses, and work through our writer insecurities together.

Sara Crocoll Smith, who somehow balances her job with a child, being the creator and editor of Love Letters to Poe, writing her Hopeful Horror Series, and a non-fiction book about the life of Edgar Allan Poe and turning one of her short stories into an independent film… it’s inspiring to say the least.

Marion Lougheed, editor, and creator of Off Topic, who has been an integral part of my support system since I started writing again and it would be hard to be where I am now without her.  She is a wonderful writer and academic pursuing her Ph.D. in anthropology. I’m thrilled that she will be editing and publishing my nursing burnout poetry book through Off Topic.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?

Renee Cronley: I’m a nature lover and so it appears in my stories and my poetry.  Nature is rarely a passive feature in my works.  It usually takes on its own character, working against or with the protagonist to serve the theme.

Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?

Renee Cronley: My process is fluid for both poems and stories.

My stories usually play out like a movie in my mind, and I write the action sequences as they are unfolding by following the characters. I usually have to backtrack to fill in some details which refine the stories and push them forward.

My narrative poetry works similar to my story process, but I am more concentrated on details and phrasing it using literary devices. But unlike stories, my poems rarely start off as mini movies. They usually start from a phrase that flies into my mind that I can’t let go of and then I just write around it.

Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?

Renee Cronley: I am currently working on a book of poetry addressing the very pressing and relevant topic of Nurse Burnout.  I worked as a nurse in Long Term Care and almost every ward in the hospital until I got pregnant with my second child in 2019.

The public has very little insight into Nurse Burnout and how it manifests.  Politics and clinical jargon are barriers to understanding a crisis that affects us all.  My poetry book expresses the difficult emotions that arise from traumatic situations, coupled with a lack of support and resources and unrealistic expectations in a way that can be digested by people who don’t work in health care.

Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?

Renee Cronley: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

All Forgotten Now – A poetry chapbook by Jennifer Mariani

The Haunting of Willow Creek by Sara Crocoll Smith 

Tiny Spoon: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?

Renee Cronley: Writing is as much a therapeutic outlet as it is a creative process—it allows me to work through knots of tangled emotions.  I can unravel them through stories and poetry to see myself and the world more clearly.   

Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?

Renee Cronley: https://www.facebook.com/renees.writing.page