Reprinted from Beacon Day School's FLASH, Volume 10, Issue 5
Donna Ballard is the Writer, Photographer, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of Swirv (Short Writings in Real Voices) Magazine. Is there anything she can’t do? Swirv is a literary magazine of short fiction, local features, recipes, and decor. This is her first interview since the launching of Swirv.
Rox: How does it feel to have already come out with the second issue of SWIRV?
Donna Ballard: It's exciting. I'm enjoying doing it. Its been an uphill battle. I'm really enjoying seeing it in print.
Rox: How did you come up with the idea for SWIRV?
DB: I just felt like there wasn't anything targeted to people like me. So much out there is saturated with pop culture, hip hop, etc. I wanted something for the on the go, single moms like me. Swirv is more my pace, about things I enjoy.
Rox: How long did it take you to create your first issue?
DB: Seven months. I wasn't really sure as to what I wanted. It took a while to figure out what the issue was going to look like.
Rox: Where can people find SWIRV?
DB: Right now it's strictly an online purchase. If you go to the website SwirvMagazine.com and subscribe, it will be sent directly to your home.
Rox: How long have you been writing?
DB: Since '95. I wrote my first book at the age of 25, Doing It for Ourselves: Success Stories of African American Women In Business.
Rox: Were you ever trained in short fiction writing, production, magazine journalism, etc.?
DB: Nope. I have a degree in Finance. Writing is just something I enjoy and have always done.
Rox: Have you tried writing other magazines or journals in the past?
DB: This is the first.
Rox: Since SWIRV stands for Short Writings in Real Voices, do the stories you write for the magazine reflect personal experience?
DB: Some. Little bits and pieces. The influence comes mostly from people I
know. It's kind of a combination of some of mine and from other people.
Rox: Between working at Leapfrog and raising a preschooler, how did you find time to produce SWIRV?
DB: I do it at night and on weekends. I'll work for about 2-3 hours at night. That's when I am in production mode. I always tell people, "If you met my son, you know where I get my energy from." I have a very active four-year-old. But it’s not so much just him, it's me wanting to be my own manager.
Rox: What advice do you have for others pursuing independent projects while juggling a household and a full time job?
DB: Do it. Figure out a way to do it. Even if it’s just for an hour a day. I think there are so many people who are trying to find a way to connect with their true passion and trying to live out a dream. If it's really important to you, just do it.
Rox: Anything else about Swirv that people should know about?
DB: Swirv is a multicultural magazine. It is intended for people who are in need of something to relax to. It's made up of short fiction, which you can read in 15 minutes. It's relaxing and quick. Swirv is intended to be a soothing magazine, mild, relaxing, nothing too heavy.
SWIRV is published quarterly and can be purchased on the web at SwirvMagazine.com.