Hello, and welcome back to the Full House literary podcast. This is the first episode of season two. And we're going to be speaking to some really fantastic guests to kick off our second season. So before we speak to our four wonderful guests, we want to start off by looking at a recent issue from a magazine. And today we'll be looking at ink sounds whose issue three has just come out. And that's filled with some really fantastic pieces. So we're just going to give a quick overview of the pieces, what's so special about them what we like about them, there's nine pieces in total, and they're just gorgeous. They're really stunning. And there's lots of lines in there that I just loved reading. So I wanted to share those with you. And then we'll dive straight into our guests. So a bit about ink sounds, they are an art collective that merges poetry and music into a singular experience. They use the interdisciplinary arts to create fresh and experimental takes on the human condition. And then their bio also states which is really interesting that in practice, this means our in house musicians are creating original compositions to selected pieces from poets around the world, or across the world, these completed works and then exhibited on our online galleries. So that's fantastic. The journal is a collection of exclusively poetry, so it's poetry we're going to be looking at this time round. But I just thought that was such a fascinating concept. And when you go back and look in the gallery, the pieces that have music just oh, it's such an experience to listen to the music while reading the piece. It's just such a lovely concept. And I think it's incredible. So we're gonna look at the poetry pieces chosen now. And then we might go back and look at what music pieces and company then when that gallery is released. But yeah, as for the the poetry pieces, there's some really really fantastic ones on there. So we're just going to start off and go, go and have a look. And so the first piece is by Lynn it's called I look for home. And this is a really gorgeous piece. What really stuck out about it for me was just the way that the landscape was described and the focus in on nature. I just thought it was really lovely. Um, this line in particular stuck out to me, a 'A clench of chestnut deer hold an ark of findings, wrapped in fog I shroud in.' I just thought that was such a lovely way of describing this moment, this glimpse of nature and the whole way through it's written like that and it's it's just fantastic. And I'm not one who tends to read too much poetry about nature, but this just really stuck out to me. And then towards the end of it, we get to a plastic spork and a zebra key chain from the grocery down the way and I just think it's such a clever transition from this really zoomed in gorgeous landscape of nature to them, we zoom out and we're with crunchy chicken salad and plastic bags. And I just think what it does, it's just really really clever and I love the way that it switches so subtly you're just immersed in this gorgeous gorgeous description and then before you know it we're with you know sporks and plastic and it's really quite powerful in the way that it gets flipped and you finish reading it and it always happens so fast that when you're finished you just have to like take a moment and just I reread this piece many many times that the effect is the same with me every time you almost like don't even realize it's happening you get caught up and then you know you're there in a completely different atmosphere and the tone doesn't necessarily change so that's why I think it's quite you wouldn't look at it on first glance and see that it was too different and that's when it so cleverly jumps out at you. So yeah, it's a fantastic piece and I really enjoyed reading it and I think it's a really good piece to look at if you are interested in really careful subtle well-crafted shifts that are just done delicately but gives so much impact. So yeah, I really enjoyed that piece.
And then the second piece we have is Sepia by Regine and and again this is just such a lovely piece. What I love most about this piece is actually the last part. So we have this line 'stay a while stay and paint with me the harvest'. I loved that that segment. It is just beautiful. I really liked the start as well 'autumn slips in on its heirloom paintbrush' And I personally think that endings and beginnings are some of the most cool things to get right. They are usually the bits that I take out and restart again. They're just the bits that I and I know quite a lot of other people struggle to get right. And this is just a great example of it, it's just done perfectly. We have the last line of 'bliss'. And that's gorgeous, is a great piece. I love the way that color is used in it. So we have 'caramel and maple wings and flights'. It's got such a lovely rhythm and tone to it, and it just flows so gorgeously. I really really enjoyed this piece. There's a lot in ink sound pieces that are published that I just think it just stellar examples a really well written work. And this piece is a great example of that. I'm just like it, you stare at it and you just fall into the world that it creates. And it's just it's brilliant, highly recommend that piece.
And then the next piece we move on to is Sarah's My lady she is a carnival butterfly one day late in July. And visually this piece is absolutely gorgeous, it is such a fascinating shape. And it does look a bit like half of a butterfly wing and I'm a big fan of butterflies so that was just what the shapes stuck out to me as on further inspection. But just reading it first off, it just it's beautiful, the weight sort of descends in on itself, and just gets shorter. And it's brilliant. And you do sort of feel like you're falling into the piece because of that. And I love the fact that that creates. I think there's a really interesting use of punctuation in this piece as well. When it's used. It's used very carefully. And we have some parts the there's just no punctuation. I love the effect that that creates. And then we have some parts so we have like an exclamation mark. We don't have capital letters across most the entirety of the piece. But then we have pops. That's the thing. It's pops of punctuation pops capital letters. And it's just it's great. I love the way they come together. And it's just it's a really beautiful piece I think this is one that you definitely need to get up if you can and have a look at and have a read of. Again, it's a piece of so full of color we have 'lime green lacewings' which is a gorgeous image its really beautiful. Some lines that really stuck out to me. 'a giggling sugar rush memory of being out late, teatime was called some hours ago, but it’s summer summer summer' I love that. It's just a really incredible line. And I like a giggling sugar. I think they are two words that go together really interestingly. Yeah, again, it's just a really well written piece and there is lots to sort of dive into and look at. And you could really focus in on different segments and then zoom out and get the bigger picture. And I just think it's a beautiful piece really well written and I just love the imagery that it creates.
And then the next piece is Shine Ballad's might be mud. And I mean Shine is just an incredible writer and creator. And this piece is no different. It's it's a really, really brilliant piece. I like the start of this piece, 'three bode horses rode toward the bounds of our position'. Fantastic. What I love about shine's work is some of the words that are smushed together and just don't have spaces. And this works particularly well in the instances where there is some sort of alliteration, for example, 'silohuetteshapes startled' silhouette shapes are together and then we have 'granular mightbemud' and it works very well and because you're so used to seeing that sort of visually because you're so used to seeing the letters, I don't think it hinders you I think it flows really well. Which is not what you'd necessarily expect or maybe you would it depends how you read I suppose but I think it's really good I really really like it we have 'sanddsilence' as well. And it almost creates this whole new word out of these, these two words put together and it creates a really interesting pace that way as well because you just read out as one word you know it's two words in your head but you read it sort of as one word and it really does like shift the pace of the piece. And I think it's just a really interesting way of storytelling. It has some really interesting line so 'nerves grainy', I love that description. 'like black horses arteries opened a current, surging' is a fantastic way of creating imagery here and some really unique lines I think it's definitely not something I read every day. I think there's a lot of thought and a lot of really intelligent crafting in this piece. And I just I highly recommend you check that one out.
And then the next piece comes from Srishti and this is sugar and shelter. This is a fantastic piece of phenomenal piece. So it is written up of just like phrases and lines and it has forward slashes to break up the lines. And usually I find it quite hard with pieces in that format for lines to stick out at me, but in this piece that that that issue does not exist at all the lines tend to find you, they sort of jump out at you as opposed to you sort of searching in for a needle in the haystack. It's a really lovely experience visually because you just get all these gorgeous pops. If I just look at it now I get 'be electricity find your ground trees sway making way for light and rain', you can just flow the different pieces with your eyes and you'll find something fantastic. So you don't necessarily even have to read this from you know left to right downwards. You could just zoom in on each gorgeous little detail. And then of course when you do read it in a more traditional way it's brilliant and it's just such a it's such a brand experience with all these different colors and sensations it's an absolutely phenomenal piece lines I especially enjoyed were 'glass beads shatter' 'truly an island' and then the last line 'I can't have both' is really good I I just highly recommend you check it out. I mean, there's so much like talent in this piece like I love the way it's written it's feels like such a bold, confident piece its definitely the type of writing that I just think is brilliant and I'd aspire towards I think it's got such a, as I said such a confidence about it. And I think that really makes the piece vibrate and gives it a lot of life. Yeah, it's just a brilliant piece. I really love it. And I think it's a perfect position and it fits really well the other pieces as well all of these pieces have something really special about them, but you know there's so cohesive an issue as well, which I think is fantastic.
And then we have Kristin Garth the smallest of beasts. Again, the sense of nature is gorgeous in it 'two great grey owls, you dreamt of days of peace inside a wood no one prowls' I love that segment there it really pulls you into a really really gorgeous imagery and space. I think the beginning of this piece is brilliant. 'You will own redundant matching chairs, small beasts to nap beside you' I think that's brilliant. Such a powerful image to draw you in. And the thing about this piece is not particularly long, but it's just so full of story. So you just have to go back and reread the really fantastic way that the narrative is crafted. And I had to reread well I wanted to read this many many times just because one read is not enough you need more and you come out of it being like I need to read that again. I need to go back and enjoy that. But there's just so much in there that you don't want to skip over you don't want to miss because it's just got such gorgeous gorgeous lines. It is brilliant. It really is I love the way that the metaphors used and the imagery is created and it's just such a clever story and it's told so well and it's a really brave piece, a really fantastic piece and I highly recommend you read this piece.
And then next up in issue we have Liam's husband material. And this is a really interesting piece and I've read this a few times, quite a few times. And every time I read it the story just it hits me a bit harder. I don't want to spoil too much about this one because I felt you really have to read it and sort of get a glimpse of it. But I'll read you the first line, 'If we were married I would keep all of your secrets on the tip of the longest knife in our house'. I was so intrigued reading that first line because I've never really read anything like it, and I think the way that secrets and crime is used within the piece is is very interesting. And its called husband material. Yeah, it was a really really interesting piece and a segment I enjoyed was 'that's an old secret. i might tap mine gently against your cheek, late with the lights out & too hot to sleep.' its just so well written I love the way that the late and lights and the too hot asleep just come out at me and they really jump out and it's a really fantastic way of writing and this piece has got such an interesting flow and we have a beginning a middle and an end in like 18 lines. And it's just a really interesting story and just another line I really enjoyed was 'sharp enough to cut my confession clean'. I just think like soundwise reading this out is it's really good. And I love the way that these repeated sounds really add to the flow of that piece. Definitely one to read, it really did did stick with me and jump out at me and as I say in every reread, I just get something more from it. And it's like this puzzle piece. And something else sort of comes clear under focus, the more I read it. And I like the way that there's, you know, the poem itself has the secrets inside of it that you keep rereading to try and get a bit closer and a bit closer into the story. So yeah, I really enjoyed the one. And I'm just really curious to hear the sound piece that goes along with that, like the music piece.
And so the next piece is fool's gold by Noreen. And yeah, what jumped out at me was the incredible way in the incredible description. So in the very first line, I was instantly like, oh, wow, I love this. 'It’s the same celebration every year: the night sky explodes into a meadow of neon', I love that description of meadow of neon, I think is really great. I've not described I've not heard it described in that way before. And when you can make something so familiar into something a bit more exciting, that's definitely something that jumps out at me. And so I loved that meadow of neon, I think that's a brilliant way of describing. I really like this piece in the way that we have these moments have long lines and lines that continue across each other. And then we just suddenly have like a really short line, of 'everyone claps'. And it just does such interesting things when reading, it's a really interesting reading experience. I love that you definitely sort of get a bit lost in this piece when you're reading it. And I always have the pieces up when I'm speaking about them. And this is one that I sort of, I get so lost in it that I almost can't focus on anything else. I just I just fall straight into the way it's been described, because it's such an easy and accessible way you just sort of fall in. There's nothing that sort of disrupts this piece and it flows so well. And it's you just sort of want to unravel the story. Because it's told so so sort of softly at the start. And then you get these glimpse of in these small characters in these pieces, and you're in there and you get the atmosphere. And you just want to see what happens and how it turns out. And then the last line is just fantastic. So 'on my face as I sat in front of the TV, pretending to feel the earth rumble' its such a powerful ending to this piece. Yeah, I highly recommend this one. I think it's so so well written and there's so much about it that I love. I think the way it's described is just brilliant. And I love the way that it does describe these familiar things in such interesting and unique ways. Yeah, absolutely fantastic piece. I really enjoyed reading that one.
And then lastly, we have Liane's a report on the mystery of things. And immediately looking at this piece, oh its so cool. It's got these different sort of headings. So one of them is 'on materialization', we have 'from the sun', 'on being here'. And they are these gorgeous segments, if you just read them sort of as they're heading and then the text or if you just you know, read it up to down, you get a really interesting way of telling a story. And I love that I love pieces that don't just tell things in a traditional way. And there are a few different ways you can access the words. And this is one of those pieces. So my favorite segment is 'from 20,000 years ago'. So I'll read you a little bit of it. 'We met in a cave. First a small pile of glowing bones then the bones rose up like mist. Like a million small insects hoisting each smooth object. ' its so well written I love it. I love the glowing bones. And it's sort of made up of the short snappy sentence is there's not many really long sentences. And it's just as just a really interesting read there are segments where we have questions 'Are we hidden in an envelope? Are we twisted? Twisted again?' And I really liked the way that we move on from each sort of section, each sort of stanza and point. It's just brilliant. I feel like it could spend so much time with this piece and still find something else and be like, Oh, I love the way that this is done. This is not one way you just read it once and you move on No, this is one that you really do you are really intrigued to go back and digest because there's so much to digest. It is so brilliant. The more I read it the more I just fall in love with it. So I highly recommend you read this one not once, not twice, many, many times and really get to enjoy the language and the really fascinating and intelligent way that the story is told. And as I say I love reading it in the sort of sections and then zooming out and zooming in is a really interesting way to have poetry presented. And it definitely feels like an experience as a reader. So I really enjoyed that piece.
And so that brings us to the end of ink sounds. And that was just an incredible experience. And I really enjoyed looking through the pieces and rereading them. And I think it's such an interesting concept with the sounds. So I can't wait to see these in the gallery and hear these. But I highly recommending sounds if you've not heard of them before. Because it's just, I think it's a really unique experience for the reader. Especially if you go back and look at some of the other issues where they have the sounds, and the music, be a really unique concept and so beautifully done, the chosen pieces are just gorgeous. And I think I'll be reading those for a long time, because they're just such an excellent example of really brilliant, really clever, really unique, and really bold writing. Um, so I absolutely loved diving through that.
And so now we're going to speak to the first of our fantastic guests. So the first of our guests is Sarah, who is a writer and writing coach. She does some fantastic feedback coaching workshops. So you can check that out on Sarah's website. And Sarah's first novel is coming out in January 2022. So not too long to wait there. And Sarah was also a top three writer for their story for the Bristol prize, which is really, really exciting. And a massive congratulations to Sarah. And we now have the immense pleasure of speaking to Sarah. So hi, Sarah how are you?
Hello, yeah I'm good thanks.
Great. I'm really excited to have a chat with you. This is our first interview of our new season. So that's really exciting. To start off with, how are you? How is your day?
Yeah, before, just lots of screen time and toddler time. I've kind of got used to managing the two now. I think. So yeah, that's kind of pretty standard for my day.
Fair enough so and to begin with, do you just want to tell us a little bit about yourself? And you know, how long you've sort of been writing how your journey began?
Yeah, sure. Okay, so I'm a writer, it took a long time to say that sentence as it does for many people. So I spent most of my professional life being a teacher. I started out teaching English as a foreign language, which was very cool. I got to travel the world with that. And then I went into secondary school teaching. So all the way up until last year, and that's kind of been my my main earning. So I started out full time. And then I did my masters in writing. Oh, gosh, seven, eight years ago. Yes. And that was kind of when I thought, okay, alright, let's do this properly, because I'm sort of dabbled for ages, but never really done it properly, so to speak. And so I went down to working part time, and tried to kind of juggle the two and doing the writing and dealing with teenagers at school, and that all got a bit fraught, and then I had a kid, and then it got even harder to write. And then yeah, so this time last year, it was last September, I decided to pull off the plaster, and I stopped teaching and thought, right, let's try and make a go of writing and creative things as my job full time.
What is it about, you know, the writing and the creating that really like ignites something in you? Is there like a particular thing or just lots of things about it that you enjoy?
I think I think part of it's the freedom, I think, so I do, I run workshops. And I did a project this year with some diverse young female writers in North London, which was very, very cool. And I think, kind of being a creative person anyway, and sort of being able to do a bit of creativity in the classrooms. I taught English, I taught Media Studies. And so we did a bit of that, but there was always like, limits to the curriculum, and all of that kind of stuff. So I really wanted to be able to, to take that bit further and do and do stuff like that. And I just, I've just been very boring, but I've been obsessed with books from a very young age. This was a classic thing in my family, where if I was reading a book, you just couldn't talk to me. They'd be shouting in my ear. Sarah, Sarah, what? Oh, what? I've been calling you for five minutes. Have you, okay. So yeah, a little bit obsessive words, I think.
Oh, yeah, I can totally relate to that words are just I mean, what is your favorite word if you have to choose one?
Oh, gosh. I really like words that have got some sort of like onomatopoeic words like gloop, or something like that. And the double o sound is also is also a positive one is the one that I really like.
And so within your own sort of work, is there a common sort of theme that runs across it? Or is every piece of it different? I'd be really curious to hear a bit more about about, you know, your type of work.
Yeah, I think like feminist stuff. And gender issues and things are I mean, from an in terms of my writing, that's the stuff that I wanted to explore and to do stuff about, because it's mean yes, I want to, you know, tell stories and, you know, inspire people and be like, oh, that's a really interesting story. But also, you know, talk about stuff that people don't always talk about, or maybe use perspectives that people we don't see a lot from, and those sorts of things. So that's, yeah, that's what I like to do. Well, post, post baby, I was a bit obsessed with babies. And so I wrote about miscarriage. And I wrote about the kind of chaotic, first few months of having a baby and how completely insane that is. And how all encompassing and muddling is, because I didn't, I don't know if you don't see as much writing about that. So yeah, I wanted to bring stuff out into the open, I guess.
Yeah. And I mean, how, I guess, easy do you find writing, like, I find it quite hard to write at the best at times. I know, some people find it a lot easier than others. So I wondered how it was for you, especially when you are speaking about topics that are quite, you know, like, close to you and personal.
Yeah, it really depends. I think that there's been two times in my life that I have just gone oh, and wrote a short story from beginning to end. And when I've come back to it and edited it, like I've barely edited it, but that's like twice in 8 years of writing. That's really, really rare. I suppose. If I am, yeah, if I'm doing if my starting point is issues, which it usually is, then it's a person that embodies that. And, and so what tends to happen is I end up with what I do by hand, some sort of character in a situation. And very often it doesn't have a lot of plot. So it's like, well, that's very nice everything. And that's a lovely bit of description that she's looking out the window, but why is she there? And why should we care? And so, yeah, because I don't tend to plan things before I start writing them. The oh actually, there's something needs to happen here tends to kind of be pasted on afterwards.
I mean, how do you find things like editing just in general? Like when you've got your draft that you're like, ok, I can work with this? How do you sort of then go on from that?
Yeah, I suppose it depends on the length of it. When I've written books, I've had to kind of leave it alone for quite a long time, especially because I'm just sick of the sight of it after spending however many months writing it, but even then I think the distance thing is really good. I have to say, I am sure that all the teaching helps. Like my marking head just kicks in. I love I love I love a colored pen, I have a colored pen system, you know, it's a really specific system, I have one color for structure, one color for style, one character, because the first the first time I wrote a book, I just I covered it in notes, and I came back to rewrite it and just thought, Well, now what do I do? I just didn't know where to start. So I thought, Okay, all right, well, let's separate this out. And again, teacher head. And, and so that means that I, in theory, I try and deal with the big stuff first. So right where the beginning, middle and end, and this character doesn't make sense. And I don't know enough about them, or whatever. And so I do lots of diagrams and scribbling on a three sheets of paper, on a three sheet of paper, something about a big page, and do all of that before, and I always have to print it off, so I can have it in front of me. And then I'll you know, even if it's a book, I'll type every single word again. Because if I have it next to me, then it's like it has to justify its existence on the page. Okay, think about it more, you know, if you just sort of cut and paste within your document, it feels a bit like cheating.
That's amazing. I love that. So one thing I want to ask you about was say, what you said that some of your inspiration sort of come from maybe people I'd love to hear a bit more about that.
Yeah, it's not so much that I'm meant by by people that I know. I think it's more like things that I see or issues or whatever. And then I sort of go off on a tangent and start reading all of this stuff. So for my book, that's coming out in January, very exciting. I found this article where this guy talked about this awful case where his his wife had been assaulted and killed. And he said that the one thing that really struck him when he went into the, the court, the court was that he just said like a normal guy. He wasn't this like giant gorilla animal, or he wasn't this, you know, like, clearly disturbed character, he just kind of looked like a person. And I thought that was so interesting. And I kind of feel like, you know, all this stuff that is going on at the the minute with the victim blaming and the flagging down the bus and all the ridiculous stuff that's the one side I think the other side of it is this real misunderstanding of like, where things like this happen and how they happen and what kind of person does it. So that was that was the motivation behind the book. So it's, it's from the point of view of the person who commits sexual assault and who that happens to them. So we see both points of view.
How long did it take you to write?
Well to write the first draft, it took me about a year and a half, two years, so I wrote it on my Masters, it was an amazing course it doesn't exist anymore, unfortunately. But to get your master's, you have to write a book. And I think because I was really lacking confidence. So I grew up, like a single parent family didn't have a lot of money. And I didn't really see women, like me, writing books, I didn't really hear those kind of what I thought was normal stories, it was always like, intellectual white men. I mean, I am white, but, you know, writing all sorts of books. So it took me ages. And I think the reason why I did a Master's is because I wanted like kind of validation. And also, it was really handy having someone being like, you have to write 10,000 words by this date. It's gonna be good for, for keeping me to a schedule. And then I kind of I submitted it, and then like, I thought for a while, and then I re edited it, and then submitted it and then gave up for a while. And then actually, it was, it was just at the start of the pandemic that I won this competition where I got professional editorial feedback on it. And she picked up on I'm not sure I get the versions of the male character, and that just really changed everything. And also made me see like, oh, okay, editors really know what they're doing. So all together from I started writing it to it's getting published, it's a good like, seven years, but obviously, I didn't write it full time. And we must be on like version 10. But maybe that always happens with your first book, because the first draft was like, 120,000 words or something ridiculous?
And was there anything that sort of, like surprised you about the process of like writing a book or anything that you didn't expect?
Um, you know, I didn't expect to get bored. Like, there are certain points in it, that it's that it's just really dull. Yeah. I mean, I, although way expected to lose heart, and, and you know, and a lack of motivation and think, Oh, my God, what am I doing? Can I really do this? That, and that definitely happened. And it was harder than I thought it would be. But I kind of thought knew that that would come. But there were quite a few times, when I was writing a scene and I'm sick of the sound of my own voice. And I sort of skip to the end of the scene. And I just write a little note to myself being like, yeah, yeah, this happens. I can't be bothered. It was quite weird.
Yeah, I think I think that's probably understandable when you're with your own words, and your writing for so long. Yeah. I mean, I'm like that with small things. I can't imagine what it's like writing a whole novel. And so I think that's incredible and massive well done there. And something I wanted to touch on with you is, you know, you write a lot of stuff that's quite close to you, or issues that are important to you. And you write about things that you care about, as many writers do, myself included. And I wondered how you find the process of actually diving in and writing about that. I know for me, personally, I have to sort of get a lot of roundabout ways actually get to the point. And it won't be me just diving into I'll have to sort of get a way around it. So I wondered for you, you know how you find that challenge of writing about things that you are so close to in what that's like?
I think I think it can be really, it can be really hard to write certain things. And there's definitely times that the process of it coming out when it's been, you know, something that's I found really difficult to live through, and then written about it afterwards. And it's been really painful. And it's like, it's like reliving that, again. I do kind of think it's almost a bit cathartic. A bit like therapy. But yeah, the process of that can be really difficult. And I think of course, then the added layer of that is, it's so personal, and it's so I really, really care about this. That becomes a lot more dangerous almost to send that out in the wild. Because you know, if then if people don't like it, that's that's much harder to do.
Yeah, I definitely have a lot of admiration. I mean, I think there is a lot of vulnerability that comes from writing about things that so close to you, I mean, for you, how does that look like when you're heading into these pieces? And what is that process like to sort of get in that mindset and get into the piece?
I think it was funny, it's funny, I started writing a lot more about myself and my experiences after I had had a baby, because that just felt like such a, such a huge life changing experience. And my mum said to me, at the time, she said, you know, the only thing you can equate it to is grief, because your life is completely different, and everyone else is just carrying on the same. Which is really interesting, like the arrival of a life and the ending of the life is quite, it's quite parallel. That's because I just had there was so much going on, I felt that I needed to process and I started reading a lot more about motherhood and, and, you know, kind of really immersing myself in that. And I think a lot of the stuff that I wrote when she was really little, and I was incredibly sleep sleep deprived, was all muddled and all over the shop, and I didn't know that was happening. And I actually the one short story, which has been shortlisted for the bristol short story prize, which is very exciting because it was years in the making. And I the idea for a for it kind of came around, and that sort of early chaotic thing. And then I rewrote it just a few months ago, my daughter's three now. And it was almost like me making sense of how I felt at the time. And in fact, I wrote so I went traveling with my, with my baby, when when she was three months old, we went travelling for five months. And I wrote a book about it. I haven't found a publisher for it yet. But again, I was like, putting a narrative onto something that I had found difficult to experience almost helped me figure out how I felt about it and kind of feelings about it. Because of course, you know, that that was weird. That's what's been really interesting about writing, like about things that have actually happened is that real life doesn't happen in story shapes.
You know, that's a really good point. And, and something, I always wonder if you think about it when you do like, right, I think some people don't write things that they care about, or close them because there is the worry well it's important to me, but is does anyone else care? And I wonder, you know, what advice? Might you have someone who was feeling that?
I think I think it's really easy to think that you're kind of alone in the world and feeling whatever it is, or caring about whatever it is. And what was I reading a book called first confessions about memoir, I think it's really good. Anyway, she's talking about this idea that it's in those times when you want most honest and true to yourself, that, that people will connect with your writing and what you are, what you say will become universal as you are connecting to it, and it really kind of authentic and truthful way. And the fact that that is what you're doing in your writing means that it will that it will kind of transcend sense of this is what happened to me. Yeah, and become a shared humanity. Yeah. So I think there's always like a route of an experience that people can always relate to.
Yeah, no, I definitely see that. I definitely make sense. And then do you think when you write about things you care about that you're closer to those pieces? And then is it may be harder when approaching the editing? Like would if it wasn't that you didn't care about? Would you be more in ruthless with the editing? How does it work for you?
Yeah, I mean, that's, that's kind of always difficult anyway, isn't it? Because, like things that you created from thin air that didn't exist, and now they exist, and now you have to cut them out? I swear, there's still one scene in my novel that probably doesn't add anything to plot but I just think it sounds pretty. I don't want to cut it out. Maybe my publisher is going to tell me to cut out. But yeah, I suppose that if the risk, isn't it, because if you're if you're approaching your your writing and kind of issue based way, then I actually I do wonder sometimes you don't want to get to being preachy. Now. I think the really important thing is to like this is a story about someone that this has happened to. And interesting enough, I think more in the memoir was kind of sneaking into on another thing, this really bugs me, and then I went back over it. And went hang on, no one cares about that. Whereas if it's a like fiction, it's almost easier to have that personal distance and to be like, well, I've created this person and this thing is happening to them. It's not me, and so maybe I can be a bit more ruthless.
And I mean, in is there anything else that you're currently working on which is exciting? If you can tell us about it?
Yeah. So mainly the the memoir, I just did a beta reader thing, which I hadn't done before. Where I sent it out to five or six people, and we all had a zoom chat and pulled apart my book that was a bit horrifying but really useful and really interesting. So I'm kind of in the stewing stage, I'm letting that kind of sit and figuring out what to do with that. So in terms of book length stuff, that's um, yeah, that's something that's, that's on the back burner. And it's sort of chugging away in the back of my mind. And then I'm obviously thinking about marketing the novel and things. But yeah, it's, I think that's the other weird thing that I've found over the past year, since I am writing more. And I knew I read about this, and people said that it happened, that the more that I write, the more ideas that I get. And so, you know, I pitched these, these audio scripts to the people that make zombies run the other week. And I sent out a piece about women in writing to dear damsels, who are brilliant group, and I just, I'm doing all these little bits, here and there, which, which is really nice. And actually, that's, that's why I started writing short stories. Because it was too long to get to the end of the book. This won't be finished for like six months, I need to I need to have a sense of closure. And so that's why I really like working on little short things.
Absolutely. What are some of your future plans and goals and you know, just hopes for the future?
I'm hoping that at some point that the brilliant second novel idea is going to descend from the skies in my brain related to some, you know, brilliantly feminist topic. Yeah, so the idea behind this year, I was kind of taking the joanna penn, strict rule of line of thinking, being like, okay, so realistically, just writing books and short stories isn't going to pay the bills. So let's do other stuff. So having taught for so many years, I've started doing workshops and courses. And I've also started writing, like nonfiction books about how to do stuff, in fact editing. So you know, can I share my, my multicolored pen ideas because I feel like that's something that is really difficult for writers to, to self edit their work. And I think it can take so long to get to the point where you get an agent or a publisher or a proofreader. You have to get it into a really decent state. Before you can do that. So that was my thinking. Yeah, so the idea is to, is to just kind of build on that really.
Oh, wow. So lots of exciting things coming up for you. Busy things.
Yeah, I have a 90 day plan.
Oh, wow. That is amazing.
The whole freelance thing is new to me. I mean, I am used to juggling 17 things at once as a secondary school teacher. So that's helpful.
Oh, well, amazing. I'm very looking forward to seeing the amazing things that are coming from you soon, and of your future. And just thank you so much for having a chat. So I'm interested to find out more about your processes and your writing.
Thank you so much for having me. It's been great to talk to you.
So that was just incredible chatting, Sarah, and just a brilliant writer and a great person to speak to. So do watch out for Sarah's book, which should be coming out in the new year. So that's exciting. And next up, we will be chatting to Jenn, who is a writer and has their first poetry book coming out very shortly, this month, the launch is so that's really exciting. So do check Jenn's Twitter for the details there. Yeah, and Jenn is just incredible writer and I'm very excited to have a chat and dive a bit deeper into some of the things that Jenn writes about and find out but more about Jenn's processes and craft. So hi, Jenn, how are you?
I am having a wonderful day. Thank you.
Brilliant, amazing. I'm really excited to find out a bit more about you. And so to start off with do you just want to introduce yourself and tell us about yourself maybe how you started writing and how that journey sort of began.
It is a long tangled road. So, hi. Hello, everyone. I'm Jenn Koiter. I'm a poet. I live in Washington DC. And I have never not been writing. My mom dug out recently the first book I ever wrote which was I was four, there's a lot of gold construction paper. And bad drawings and a very simplistic plotline. But um, but so it's just it's always been in my blood. I knew, as a high schooler that I wanted to study writing in college, I went on to get an MFA. And then I graduated with my MFA and promptly got writer's block. So there were a good five years where I was not writing. And what, what got me writing poetry again, was actually starting to do some screenwriting. So I guess if I were going to just toss out a piece of unasked for advice, I would say write in a different genre. If you need to get started again.
I'd love to know a bit about your writting approach, I'd love to know a bit more about the themes. And if every piece is a bit different, or there tends to be some main things sort of stretch across your writing?
Yes, I am. By and large, I think a pretty happy person and you, I don't think you've know that by reading anything that I write. I write a lot about loss. My my first book is about to come out. And the title is so much of everything. And it is, it's largely about, about the losses that I've had in my life. Among other things, but there's a long sequence, I have a long sequence of elegies. About my boyfriend's suicide, which happened almost almost exactly four years ago now. So that that took a lot of writing and a lot of processing for sure. So, so yeah, so a lot of, and I think it's actually quite, you know, I'm making my work sound very mopey. When, when in fact, as one of my friends put it, this there's a bite to it. Even I think when I'm writing about sad things, I'm still funny. And still a little biting. So So yeah, that's that's kind of where my work has been, where it's going, I'm really excited to find out.
what is it about writing that, you know, does it for you and makes you sort of love it? For some people it is certain elements. For me, it's just that process of creation. What is it for you that you love most about it?
Well, in part, I'm really with you. Like, I feel like one of the reasons that I'm here is to make things and that that whole creative process, I feel just don't that's why it was so brutal to be blocked for those five years, because I wasn't fully myself. And I think, even if nobody reads it, I still want to be writing. And, and that's a big part of that for me. And the other part is connection. I love the literary community. I love reading other people's stuff that makes me feel less alone, right, like the the CS Lewis quote, right? And, and the idea that I could do that for someone else is really inspiring, and meaningful to me, it makes my own work meaningful.
Yeah, definitely. I definitely relate to that. And have you written a favorite piece? And also equally, if somebody was stumbling across you for the first time and you would recommend, you know, one piece that they look at first, what would it be?
Oh, that's a wonderful question. This summer, I published a poem with the shore, the shore, the online journal, called the reading tour. And I feel it's a poem that has taken me like a decade to write. And it's, it's about two of my friends, both of whom have died in in unrelated ways. And their, their friendship, it's about their friendship. And I'm, I feel like if someone wanted to meet me, as a writer, that would be an excellent place to start. And if you asked me on a different day, I might say a completely different thing.
Brilliant, thank you so much. And so I mean, maybe we've touched on this a little bit already, but where do your inspirations generally tend to come from and also, when you sit down to write and sort of put pen to paper or keys, or fingers to keys, are the idea sort of in your head? Or is it you sit down and you take a few moments and then it starts to pour out. I'd be so curious to know about what your process is like.
Yes. So I feel like I feel like I have a couple of things that that pushed me to write. One of them, as I've mentioned is processing loss, that I don't know how I would do it. Otherwise, something something needs to get out, something needs to get figured out. And the other is something is ridiculous. And you'd be amazed at how often those two things intersect. I think sometimes grief is ridiculous. And last is ridiculous. And other times, it's just typos when you're looking for furniture online, or ridiculous, as in the case of a piece I just finished, which is all about like, bad writing and vintage furniture ads. So I tend to accumulate bits and pieces. The Notes app on my phone is full of snippets. And once and if one of those snippets starts accumulating other snippets, I know I'm onto something. And only once I've got a fair amount there, do I actually sit down in front of the computer, transfer it to my computer and actually write a poem. So that's that tends to be my process. My it tends to be yeah, cumulative is a really good word. See, see what what has enough gravitational pull to pull other language toward it, and then eventually form a poem.
Absolutely, I'm with you with the notes that I've been lost about mine. And so for you, what is the editing process look like?
It's really organic for me. They say Elizabeth Bishop used to like that she left poems tacked up around her home for decades, and then she would just sort of walk past them and change. I'm not quite that obsessive. But I do I do feel like time is really important in revision that I've always been sort of perplexed by people who will you know, at a reading say, like I just wrote this yesterday, you know, because for me, it's it's very much about living with it for a while seeing seeing what has to change and what has to drop and what and where things need to be added. It's, it's, it's really about well, it's like any relation, I think your relationship to a poem to your work generally is like any relationship, it's all about investment of time, it's about just hanging out. And, and so I'll hang out with with a poem for a while and let it have a little space from time to time and then come back to it. It is like a relationship now that I think about it.
I love that way of describing that thing. That's a fantastic way to sort of sum that up. And I'd love to chat a bit about your book if that's okay. I mean, firstly, how's the process of that been?
Accelerated. I, I actually just won the contest in May. And it's coming out now, which is really rapid, compared to a lot of, to a lot of contests. And I am really grateful to it because I wouldn't I day eight is my publisher and I, I owe them a debt because I wouldn't have put the book together without this contest. I felt I honestly felt like I didn't have enough poems. I had plenty of poems. I didn't feel like they went together. And then when I when I sat down to pull it together, I I found that that that that they did they hung together perfectly. Um, and I don't think I would have done that if I hadn't if if I hadn't been in this circumstance. So it's been and that's also just it's a lot like like the question that you just asked about how to how to edit a poem. I feel like editing the manuscript felt the same way. Like you just I because I don't want to project on any my process on anyone else like I just had to sit with it and live with it.
Is there anything this sort of surprised you about the process or the like, Oh, that was unexpected I didn't imagine that to happen?
I never thought I would get so attached to all the details.
The cover design, who knew I had so many opinions about font but but once it's once it was mine I, I really, I really did start to care, I suddenly would, you know, I wanted I wanted this font or that font. And I wanted this image, I got to pick the image of the cover. It's a local day eight is a local arts organization, and they really want to support local living artists. And so I probably spent 30 or 40 hours trying to find a piece by a living local artist that I loved. And I did. The cover is by Alexandra Sherman. And I, she's she's now she's my new favorite. So yeah, that's, that was something that that I didn't see coming.
Ah, amazing. And for anyone who's curious about you know, when this is coming out, and what details do you have on that?
I I'm sitting by a stack of books right now. The the official launch party is the 24th. And I, and I think that's when we're, you know, the books should be up on Amazon shortly. I'm not exactly sure when. But that's probably the easiest way, the easiest way to get for people to get their hands on it.
Okay, brilliant. And for anyone wanting more information on that, they can head to your Twitter, is that right?
That would be fantastic. I'm my handle is my name Jenn Koiter and it's the same on Twitter and Instagram.
Ah, brilliant. Amazing. So that's great. All the details of that if you're interested in checking that out. And now moving to slightly a little bit more random a question, and what is your favorite word?
That's like asking me what my favorite food is Leia.
Um, I do like the word rancid, you can kind of taste it.
That is a brilliant answer. And then something else I wanted to touch on, if somebody was writing about a really personal theme, and they weren't sure that anyone would care about it apart from them, what sort of advice would you maybe say around that?
I would say that if it matters to the writer, and if the writer is honest, and precise, and gives the, as much detail as possible, around their experience, yeah. I will care, the audience will care. I think having those that detail in that precision makes the particular into the universal, or rather, the universally accessible.
That's a great way of of explaining that and summing that up. That's really useful. So just sort of round up. I'm curious, what are some of your hopes and dreams for your future? And the next few years?
What a beautiful thing to ask. I, I would love to see. Well, we talked earlier about about the way literature, makes us feel less alone. To see, I would love to see my my book, enter that conversation. As it comes out. That's one of my that's one of my hopes. Is that maybe folks, folks who are grieving, and might might find it and, and resonate with it. Or even just folks who have dark sense of humor. And so that's one of them. I mentioned that I am doing some screenwriting I'd love to sometime in the and then in the next couple years actually make one of my shorts, I think that would be really fabulous. And I I'm currently training to become a writing coach. And I would love to be able to help people who are blocked like I was blocked, get unblocked whether they're writers or other creatives or folks who have other kinds of blocks in their lives. So we'll have to check in in a couple years time Leia.
Definitely, to be continued in 2023 or something. Definitely, I mean, thank you so much for having a chat and for giving us the chance to learn a bit more about you and your writing. It's just been an absolute pleasure.
I'm so delighted that I got to meet you, thank you for having me on.
So that was just wonderful chatting to Jenn and I'm really looking forward to the release of Jenn's book this month. That's really exciting. We are about to launch a shiny new review section on our website. So maybe stay tuned for a review of that, because we're just really excited to read it. And it was just an absolute pleasure to chat to Jenn.
And next up, we will be chatting to Lauren, who is a historical fiction author from Northern Ireland. They have a wonderful book, which is their debut the boy who saw in colors, and we are really excited to have a chat about Lauren and what it is about the historical world and the writing of the historical world that really jumps out at them. So hi, Lauren, how are you?
Hi, I'm good. Thank you. How are you?
Yeah, good. I'm really excited to be able to have a chat with you. And so to start off with, do you just want to tell us a little bit more about yourself and maybe how you began writing and how that journey sort of started?
Yeah, no worries. Um, so yeah, my name is Lauren. I'm an author from Northern Ireland as well as a journalism student who is working as a copy editor part time at the moment. So yeah, and as for how I began writing it's I've always, I've always really enjoyed storytelling in general. When I was a kid, I would read storybooks at home. And I always remember thinking that it was it was so cool that one person thought like all of this and wrote it down, and I remember just always wanting to do that.
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I can definitely relate to that. And what is it you tend to mainly write, do you tend to write in or about one specific thing? Or is everything a bit different? I'd be curious to know.
Um, well, I have a lot of I travel inspirations from a lot of different things. Actually, just going back to the children's book, children's books I remember reading Charlotte's Web in primary school and kind of being entranced by the words but I didn't know back then that it was sort of opening my brain to things that I love the storytelling today, you know, like perspectives, worlds within worlds, compassion, friendship in unlikely places. And whenever obviously you probably read Charlotte's Web Yeah. I assume so yes, whenever Charlotte died it I just remember I just remember being being really little but thinking that we can die but also live on but at the same time?
Absolutely. Yeah. I loved reading books as a child yeah, is is definitely a way that I agree. I mean, it definitely got me thinking about writing as well just because it was a great way to sort of spark the imagination. Yeah, definitely. And I'm really curious about what are your process like when writing does it take a while for the ideas to sort of collect and then you sit down and you write or how do you sort of gather and find your inspiration and then translate that into writing?
Well I don't actually have a specific process I know some people have you know notes upon notes upon notes and they sit down and they they plan things out and stuff like that but I'm I'm definitely what they would call more of a panster for sure. For me there's just nothing like sitting down to write the blank page and just kind of letting your thoughts flow onto the page but I was actually writing my previous book The Boy Who song colors for about six years so for me it was kind of I just kind of assembled bits and pieces over time because the research for that book was quite intense.
Yeah, I mean, I'd love to know a bit more about the book and how it was like to write I mean, was there anything that surprised you or was unexpected about process?
Well just how long it took real obviously there's no way to know when you're when you go into things like this but because of what the books about it's about a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany and he is sent to one of the schools over there. Yeah, it was very very in depth it was kind of like a minefield once you dove into it, you couldn't get back out again. And there was always more constantly more you think you've kind of got it done and there was always more to add to it.
Right I mean, what was that like to edit that amount of work and stuff that you've been working on for so long? Did it get challenging like to the more it went on? Or was it challenging from the start and then got easier?
No, I mean, I never really find it challenging at all to be honest, I'm interested in ww2 anyway, I always have been ever since I was a child. So for me, it was it was kind of like a natural transition really to write a book about it as well, even though it is fiction. But obviously, it did get a bit challenging when it came to like editing and stuff like that. But I had a lot of help and support from from people in the writing community and obviously editors and proofreaders, and, uh, you know, all sorts of people who really stuck by me through the whole process. So that's been really nice. I've also been able to meet a lot of really cool people as well. So that's a that's a plus.
Absolutely. Um, and something else I'm curious about is, why is it that you write about history? And what is it that that really intrigues you? And, you know, fulfills that like desire to write, because I know some people really like writing specifically about the present, or some people love to write about a future we've not seen. So what is it about history that really sticks out to you?
I just think there's something really beautiful about going into the past, and seeing what it was like to live there and seeing how it compares to nowadays, because you find that not many things have changed really, obviously, technology has advanced, and stuff like that. But you know, not not much things have changed. And I think we could learn a lot actually, from going back in times and learning about our history.
Definitely, is it I mean, I don't know, maybe it's just for me, because I don't ever really write in the past. But I imagine it would be quite difficult to separate, you know, the modern day, where you've come from, you know, the modern world with technology and phones, and, you know, so immersed in what exists now to then translate and go and completely switch perspectives into the past. I mean, for me, that'd be challenging, but how was that for you? And how do you sort of get into the mindset that prepares you to write for this type of genre?
Well, I think that's, that's actually it's a good question actually, I think that's something that a lot of people don't don't realize about authors, I others, though, a lot of people tell us to write what we know. And that's kind of the writing advice that they give us from very, very young age. But I think to the writer as well, you have to kind of step out of your shoes as well and kind of step into the shoes of other people. But yeah, you're right, it was it was at times very challenging to to separate modern day from the past. But, you know, that's why I've had I had amazing professors and stuff like that they were able to point out things that, that I overlooked little things like, like chocolate and stuff like that, where you wouldn't have had that in Nazi Germany, cookies, they wouldn't have had that until the Americans brought it in. So there was, there was a lot of really cool things like that.
Yeah, see, I wouldn't even think of our stuff like that. Yeah, oh, my god. I mean, well a massive congratulations on you know, writing that and amazing, I couldn't even dream of doing something like that. So a massive congratulations there. And what are you currently working on or, you know, plans for the future?
Right now, I'm currently working on a book set in my hometown, actually, Derry, like the the troubles in Northern Ireland, which is a political war that took place from the 60s to 1998. And it's about a young girl who well a woman when we first meet her, she is, was in New York at the time, but due to like family, tragedy, she had to go back to Derry and had to relive her childhood and the troubles and we kind of follow her along for the ride.
Wow, that sounds really interesting.
Yeah, it is, again, like my previous book, it's it's a minefield, in terms of research, probably even more so than the last book, because there's a lot more there's a lot more stuff out there but World War Two, but not so much about this, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to write about it as well, because not many people abroad know about the history in Northern Ireland.
What was it like I mean, even if we go back to the start from going from your first piece of work even ever written to now what would you say is the biggest thing you've sort of learned or going from, you know, one book to two but what do you think is the biggest thing that you've taken away so far?
I think the main thing is just don't rush into things so much. Take the time to develop the characters in your research.
For me, I wouldn't have ever imagined how important other people were and how important it was to get like, other perspective on things. Like, I don't know I just I really value that now but it is something like I never realized was important.
Yeah, I mean, well, you're right actually with originally I am a new author, I didn't know the process really about publishing. So whenever I initially did edits, I thought maybe you did like two or three edits, and that was that. But recently, I find it's very important to get like, you know, 2345 sometimes eyes. Yeah, or on your project, because as an author, you kind of, you're so attached to it that you don't see these little flaws that might creep up, but they definitely will.
Absolutely, and it can be very hard when you're say like, close to your work, sometimes you need the sort of outside perspective to sort of make those these changes that you otherwise might not have been able to part with I suppose.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I'm, I have a have a habit of writing very, very long novels. So something people have been able to help me with is cutting down my word count. So you're not reading the 700 page epic basically.
That sounds amazing too.
Yeah. But for too long.
We'll you'll have to work on that as a separate piece. Give us a really long piece of historical fiction. That'd be amazing.
Authors cut, I'll just release it later.
Yes. That's amazing. They should definitely do that. Like authors cut should be a thing!
I think so. Yeah.
Yeah. And so for you, what do you think is the importance of you know, writing in the past and writing historical fiction, I mean, a lot of people do tend to love it. Um, you know, why is it important for you?
Well, I think I think like you said, there are a lot of people out there that do really enjoy historical fiction and history in general. But if, if people aren't so interested in in the past and more interested in the future, I think it's it's still good to write about history because you'll get people interested, get get people talking. Maybe not so much my own novel, but like other other people's novels. You know, things like all the Light We Cannot See comes to mind.
So, yeah, I mean, what's your style of writing like, do you tend to do things a bit more stripped back? Are you a bit more descriptive and detailed, I'd just be curious to know.
Well most most of my published works at the moment sort of tend to have an element of magic to them. So my style is historical fiction with magical realism. Because before I consider myself to be an author, I consider myself an artist first. So I, I tend to kind of let let the art do the heavy lifting for the most part. But yeah, my work has a lot of all of my published work has a thread of, of magic running through them at some point, some form.
Oh, that's so interesting. How did that sort of begin?
Um, well, again, going back to children's books, really, I've just, again, always been fascinated. My favorite children's book is Peter Pan. And I, I love I some authors can weave fantasy and history together to make something I think really beautiful.
I thought that I wanted to do that.
Oh, definitely. Yeah, that sounds incredible. And, and if people wanted to check out you and your work, where would you direct them to?
Um, you can check me out laurenrobinson.co.uk, my website, or I'm always quite active on Instagram.
Oh fabulous. So you're quite easily accessible. That's great. And then so sort of on the off, what are some of your hopes and dreams and goals for the future? Maybe the next few years?
All right now because I graduated from university not long ago. So right now I want to obviously develop copywriting thing a little bit more first, and then hopefully, maybe some point and get a job as a long form journalist. That's, that's where I want to go, ultimately, and obviously keep writing novels as well. As many as I have in me.
Oh, absolutely incredible. So hopefully lots of exciting things for your future then. Yeah, I hope so. Amazing. Well, thank you so much for having a chat with us. I mean, it's been absolutely incredible to find out more about yourself and your work. So just thank you so much for giving us some time to chat.
No worries. Thank you for for having me as well.
So that was just great chatting to Lauren, I really enjoyed finding more about a different sort of perspective and a different way of writing. So I found that really, really interesting. And our next guest is Lynne. And Lynne is a fantastic writer, you might have heard of Lynne's books, dead dog poems, if you've seen that on Twitter and Lynne also has a range of other fantastic books, which I'm sure Lynne will tell us all about. And yeah, I was really excited to chat to them and find out a bit more about Lynne's writing processes and crafts and the way Lynne sort of views the world and how that sort of feeds into the writing. So yeah, hi Lynne. How are you?
I'm doing really well how are you?
I'm great. Thank you very very excited to hear a bit more about you. So to start off with do you just want to give us an introduction to yourself maybe how long you've been writing and creating and how you started?
Yeah, um, so how long I've been writing and creating I'm gonna start there and then kind of move forward, um, so I when I was a kid oh, like a real real little kiddo. I remember being frustrated because I would write these really brilliant story ideas but because I didn't know how to write and I didn't know how to read I couldn't keep them and I remember running to my mom and being like, teach me how to write like I want to keep this so shortly after that, I you know, I pretty sure I was enrolled in school they started working really hard with writing and reading I read all of the pony pal books used to write the adventures of Buttercup which was a little pony down the streets. They were you know, eight year old little hand drawings and terrible stories but it's how I remember getting started and then throughout middle school in high school, I would always have a notebook you can even see like some of my cross country meets there's me like standing in the huddle with my notebook and pen and I'm like, Oh my gosh, I've always been that kid. Um, but yeah, so realistically, I started taking myself seriously as a writer in 2018 and 2017 was one of the worst years of my whole life there was a big fight with my family, my dog died, a really good friend died and it just felt like one hit after another and I needed somewhere for all of those feelings to go which then because I have them right here because I just got back from my trip but so which then brought gravity to life which is all about a relationship with a guy who I was off and on again with for like three years terrible, terrible relationship. He ended up being engaged and then kissing me and like I swear to God, you could hear my brain just break like I just was like, I can't do this, like what is happening and then I wrote on becoming a role model which is all about that fight with my family and just growing up in the household I did and the day, my oldest niece stole my glasses and my hat and was like look auntie, I'm you. And I was like, Oh sweet baby Jesus. Like if you're looking up to me, I should probably become someone to look up to. And most recently, I had dead dog poems published which won the 2020 new women's voices award and so it's it's funny because these three books like tell my story of 2017 so that's that's basically me in a nutshell and how I started writing and and taking myself seriously was just landing a few publications here and there. And then nightingale and sparrow had their first call, which is where gravity landed. And I've been trying to land publications ever since.
Absolutely. Oh wow that is fantastic. And a lovely set of books. They're just gorgeous and amazing. And I'd love to know a bit more about the pieces and is every piece a little bit different? Do you tend to write across the same sort of style, I'd be really curious to know.
I so I would identify probably as like a confessional poet. I'm really bad at making like, like symbolism and doing those types of things and really like taking the steps outside of myself. You know, I write in a much more concrete way. So if it's a poem about my sister, it will usually start off saying my sister said this. One of my strengths I've been told is probably my last lines. I focus a lot on the interactions or like a specific moment. So how I said in on becoming a role model, my niece took my hat and was like, Look I am you. And that haunted me for years, because I was like, I'm influencing these small children like, I'm basically a train wreck right now, like I don't want them to be to be like me, and here I am interacting with them, and they think I'm a safe adult to look up to. So I isolate a lot of those really raw moments. In dead dog poems, I focus a lot on the diagnosis, the cancer diagnosis for Baxter, and just try to separate that out and get as into that single moment as you can. And I think that's where my writing is a little bit different from some other people's, but also kind of similar. But if you read one of my poems, I feel like most people would probably be like, that's a Lynne Schmidt poem. I feel like you can kind of recognize them.
Okay, yeah.That's really interesting. It's a great answer. And, I mean, how difficult or how do you find the process maybe, of getting into the writing? Because I mean, you're speaking about quite personal, quite difficult issues. And how do you get yourself in that mindset where you're like, okay, now I'm going to write?
I think I give myself a lot of permission to not write first. Yeah, I feel like there's a lot of pressure for writers to be pushing out as many poems a day as they can, yeah, if you're not writing your 10 minutes a day, you're doing yourself a disservice. I don't really subscribe to that, I, I tried to give myself a lot of grace. And it takes me a long time to reflect back on interactions. So if say, you and I went out to coffee one day, and you've said something really profound, I would probably sit with it for like, a week to a month before being like, there it is, I have the poem for that, because I would just remember that one line or that one interaction, or like the way our hands brushed when reaching for the sugar pack. And so it takes me a long time to just fixate on one aspect, and then allow the words inside me to form. There are some days where I'll write like five or six poems, but a lot of the times it will stem from the one poem that I wrote, and then kind of start a series and that's where I've gotten really good at chapbooks, because once my brain gets into this mode, it just is like, oh, here's another poem you can write about. Here's another aspect of that, did you consider this and that's where I'm really able to do it. But there are times where I don't write for like two or three weeks at a time, like I'll jot notes down and things like that, but nothing actually comes. And so that's where I'm working on submissions. That's where I'm working on editing. That's where I'm taking on client manuscripts because I can't do my own stuff at that moment.
It's really interesting, I'd be curious to know about how the editing process is like for you because when you the way you sort of speaking, it seems like in those moments of like, between writing, when you're reflecting on things that happen, that almost feels like a stage of editing done there, that you're collecting all this and it's processing in your brain before you even maybe put the thought down. So I'd be curious to know about how that process starts from like, and how it looks from sort of start to finish and how many different stages it goes through.
Yeah, I in 2018, when I was younger, in cockier, I would be like, I wrote a poem, and it's great and just automatically send it out, like the second I pushed done, I would just send it and a lot of them got picked up, which made me even more cocky. Um, and they shouldn't have been picked. It's not that I'm not grateful that they were because it helps give me the confidence that I needed to continue. But it also gave me some really bad habits and thinking that I was better than I was. So when I write a poem now, like I said, I'll usually fixate on the one moment and then write what I refer to as the bones of the poem. So it's where I use a lot of really weak writing. It's where I use a lot of cliches and kind of just use them as placeholders. And even as I'm writing it, if I'm on the computer, I'll highlight it if it's handwritten, I'll circle it. And then I'll let those poems sit for a while and then you know a day to a week to a month later I'll go back to them. If I'm working on a collection, it's a little bit different because it's always a different thing that I'm editing and I'm working on it for my collections. I have an editor his name is Alex and I would not be the poet I am today without his his hand in my work because he is one he's not afraid of hurting my feelings. And two he'll do the same thing where a whole circle things and say this is really weak strengthen this like you're a poet your job is to make this beautiful and he's really challenged me in a lot of way. So if I don't have a collection going and I'm just working on the individual poems, I'll pause for a while and go back and say, Okay, this is a really good like bone structure like a skeleton of a poem. And now I need to add on the meat, and then I need to add on the skin, and then I need to do all of these other things. And so that's where I really look at, what can I improve here? What can I delete, and like, I focus a lot on my last lines, because I really want them to gut punch people. Like when people walk away from my poems, I really want them to resonate with them.
Yeah, definitely, I can definitely see that. And a question I have for you is, what would you say is, I suppose the thing that surprised you most or that you wasn't expecting about the process, maybe when you first started writing to now?
uh, the fact that I've won awards. So I like I said, I took myself a little bit more seriously in 2018. And as as quickly as 2019. I remember walking down the street. And I got a call from PNWA being like, Hi, is this Lynne Schmidt? And I was like, yeah. And they were like, oh, congratulations you're a finalist for one of the contests. And I was like, I remember like taking the phone away from my ear, like checking the number and being like, do you have the right person? My writing is not good. And so it was just it was mind blowing to me. And I feel like every time I've won an award, I've had that same reaction of like, are you? Are you sure? Maybe not. So with dead dog poems, I won the new women's voices. And there's a poem in that collection, specifically named Baxter. And it's all about who he was to me as a dog, and then losing him and just trying to survive that loss. And I really just, it was a poem I wrote for myself. And then just on a fluke, I sent it out. And I received notice that it won an Editor's Choice Award from frost metal review. And she wrote me this really beautiful handwritten note that was like, I sat on my couch sobbing, this was so beautiful. And I was like, I mean, I cried, too, but that's because I knew him. So it's just of all the things that shocked me about writing nothing shocks me more than when I get an acceptance, or I get an award.
Absolutely, and a massive congratulations on that. Fantastic, and you should be so proud of your achievements and your writing. A question I'm curious about is, were you ever sort of I don't know how to phrase this. But when you first maybe started putting out work that was vulnerable and close to you was that ever, anything that was difficult to do, or you ever sort of worried about that or found that challenging.
So I just recently passed my licensure test to become a therapist. So I've worked in the social work field for probably the last eight or nine years. So I have had a really incredible responsibility to hold space for really difficult conversations. Within that 10 years ago, this month, actually, I had an abortion. And the circumstances around it that were I had planned to end my life, because I had been so brainwashed to believe that you can't do this. It's a sin, it's murder. It's all these really terrible things. And in the aftermath of that, I cut my hair off I changed my name to Lynne and I moved to Maine to become a snowboarding instructor and I just I didn't want to be the person I was anymore. And I sat there and I thought about it and I was like how could we live in a society where somebody consider suicide before abortion like it just like when that dawned on me, I was like, What just happened? And so I started sharing my story, I created the project, abortion chat, and realistically, everything that I started doing for my writing at that time, was to try to get my memoir out there which explores all of that in a little bit more specific detail and a little bit more of like here's what my plan was and here's what the date was and through that I became really comfortable just sharing the really raw parts of my life and the things that have happened to me and are you familiar with AWP? So AWP is a writing conference that travels throughout the United States, they have one every year last year was in Texas, oh this year is in Pennsylvania, but so they bring really incredible writers there. It's one of the biggest ones in the United States and I've gone to it for a lot of years like I went when I was an undergrad. So in my very early 20s, and I went for years and years to a lot of different things, and I went to panels that had people who were leaving the sex industry, and then writing about those experiences or Kerry Cohen who wrote loose girl a story of her promiscuity. And I remember sitting in the audience, like little baby me just being like, these are the most brilliant people and they would just share aspects of their story so unflinchingly that it would later manifest and give me the strength and the courage to say like, no, this is who I am. These are the things I've done, like sure, I'm not proud of it. Like I've done some really messed up things, but like, I'm not that person anymore. And through that, I would hope that my poetry would resonate with people who've ever made a mistake and and help them heal.
Who are some of your favorites, favorite writers, if you have any? Or where do you find some of your inspirations?
Yeah, I'm also you you had said who influences me a little bit. And so Joan Kwon Glass has a collection, night swim coming out, it just landed with diode additions. And she also has how to make pancakes for a dead boy, her first chapbookcoming out, she has a couple of others. Like she, she's having an amazing year. And I have worked with her and editorial capacity, and both night swim and how to make pancakes for a dead boy explore the loss of her nephew through suicide. And it is arguably one of the most intense collections I have ever read I've been honored to work on. And there were so many moments where I just sat on my couch, like trying to catch my breath, like this isn't even my grief. And it's still hit that hard because the writing was so beautiful. And she and I started talking about some of our losses that we've had an experience throughout our lives. And it turns out that our grief plays very well together. Because when you have these types of catastrophic losses, they linger and they shape you and they affect you. And so currently, I'm writing on a collection that's called all the time, which explores the loss of my best friend in 2003. She was killed in a car accident at the age of 17. So what makes this difficult and what's been really interesting to to circle back and reflect on is within that year the first boy who ever showed me around my high school died in a car accident, my sister's best friend died from cancer, Kelly died in a car accident a couple years later, another friend died. And so it was just all of these deaths. And it's, it's been really difficult to go through. And so I have just carried, you know, all this grief for my whole life. And so, reading Joan's work, where she very intimately takes you into the funeral parlor, where she takes you into see her nephew's body and her sister interact with it. It, it made me start to rephase a lot of my own grief and a lot of my interactions that I thought I was done writing about. And I just I just finished the collection. I say that because I don't really ever believe anything is fully finished. But I just finished it. And as I was going through it, I was just like, wow, like this is just still so hard. And I had to come face to face with a lot of things that I didn't ever think that I would go back to that I would ever want to write about again. And I sent it off to my editor and I got a note back saying this is your best work yet. And it just like it broke me a little bit because I was like, Oh cool, here's all of my depression. Um, but I tried really hard to put into words how much I loved these people and how much their losses affected me. And if not for Joan's work, if not for reading her collections, my collection would not have existed because I would still have been pushing away that grief rather than connecting with it.
That's great to get a bit more insight into that and about what sort of influenced your work. So that's, that's absolutely fantastic. I'd just be curious to, to sort of get more of a glimpse into your mind and how these thoughts and how these moments in your work sort of come together from when you first sort of see them and then they sort of I'm really curious about how you describe them sort of like in your brain. And then like, two weeks later, they'll sort of come out. I'd just love to know more about that.
Yeah, so I am one of the people who firmly believes that there is beauty in every day. And when I say that, that's not to say that there isn't also pain and chaos and a lot of those more negative feelings, but there's also a lot of beauty in those painful moments. One of the poems that first comes to mind as we're having this conversation is, I believe, it's called on studying an example. And it's from my on becoming a role model collection, and it goes through. So my sister really enjoys hot yoga, I firmly believe there's a level of hell, we're just like, everybody in hell has to do hot yoga. So every time I go to Michigan, she goes, and she does this with me, or she has me go do this with her. And we brought my niece. And I remember watching, just because there's so many people in so many bodies and people on their mats and my niece who I think she was, I think she was like, eight at the time, so so really young. And she just took off her shirt, and was in her sports bra, and just like ready to stretch and like do whatever. And the confidence that she had hit me so hard, because here I am in my late 20s, early 30s. And I'm just so insecure about my body that like, when I go to take off my shirt, I'm like, Oh my god, who's looking like, how is my stomach? Like how, like, how are my boobs? Like, how do I look? And to watch my niece just have none of that, like no fear, no flinching. I sat with that moment, probably for about a year. Because it just it was so profound to me, and I wanted to write about it. But I also wanted to give that moment justice and talk about how if I commented on my body in that moment, or if she saw me flinching as I took off my shirt, basically, if I didn't mimic what she did, she would start to wonder, oh, why? Why is she reacting like that, like, what does she see in her body, and it would kind of cause my body to act as a mirror to her so she could start dissecting herself. And so I, I held that moment for a really, really long time until the poem came. And so I said, Okay, I want to talk about, like the relationship between women, even though obviously, she's a child, so not not a woman. But how we influence the youth, I want to talk about how body image affects so many of us, I want to talk about my own body image, because I've struggled with an eating disorder for a majority of my life. And I want to tie all of this together. And so it's kind of like that, where, depending on how influential the moment is, or the sentences, I just hold it, and my brain will hold it and hold it and hold it until the word start to form. And it's sometimes a really nice and easy process. And sometimes it's like pulling teeth.
Sure, fantastic. No, I love that, I find that really interesting to see and hear how people get these these things, I just find it really fascinating sso that was great to hear a bit more about that. And, and for anyone who may not have stumbled across you before and be familiar with your work? Where would you recommend a good starting place, or a good starting piece for someone to check out that sort of is a good place for them to get to know you.
So I, I can officially say I am Google now like you type in Lynne Schmidt and a lot of my stuff will pop up. If people are interested in collections, both dead dog poems and gravity are available on Amazon. And I believe through the publisher links. But most people are more familiar with Amazon. So it's just easier to do that, on becoming a role model is available through 30 west publishing or I do have copies of all three of them. If anybody wants signed copies, they can send me a DM and we can figure out like payment like Pay Pal and stuff like that through there.
Absolutely. And then to sort of close off on our conversation, what are some of your hopes, goals and dreams for the next maybe year or two?
For the next year or two? Well, so I have a forthcoming collection called sexy time it's sexy time I can we just appreciate how hilarious that is because as soon as the cover comes up, I keep showing it to people in person and being like, do you get this do you get this so if you do see it, please DM me, because I want to know people's reactions to it because I think it's the most brilliant thing. But so that collection lands like I said in February, and it's arguably one of the hardest collections I've written so far. Because as the title would suggest sexy time. It's about doing it and I am a survivour sexual trauma in a lot of different forms, which means that for me to be intimate with someone, or even myself, it takes a lot to have me stay in my body and enjoy those moments and those types of pieces. So to write this collection, about good, consensual sex was really challenging. And so my goal for the next year would be probably to, to share that collection with the world. We talked about vulnerability, and do I ever get nervous, that one I'm pretty nervous about in part because like, Oh, god, my mom is probably going to buy a copy. And I'm like, Oh, my God, please, please just don't ever read that. Um, but at the same time, I, I would really hope to make it accessible to people who have survived a lot of the similar things that I have, it's one of the reasons why we made the cover hilarious, so that people aren't turned away from it. Because if you chose a sexier image or something like that, you know, people might see that and be like, Oh, that's not for me. But then as you get into it, you can have the smaller again, more beautiful moments within sex within the comedy that comes with that within loving your partner. And I'm, I'm equal parts really nervous to share this with the world, and also really excited. And so that's a huge goal of mine. And then just to continue sending out submissions, I would hope to land my first full manuscript this year, that would be really, really great. And then just to keep doing presentations, and getting to talk with wonderful people.
Amazing, great, exciting stuff, hopefully, upcoming from you. So that's some great stuff to look out for. Incredible. I mean, thank you so much for giving us the time and chatting us through some of your processes and about doing your work. It's been an absolute pleasure to find out more about you.
It was really great being on here. Thank you so much.
No worries at all! So that was so lovely to speak to Lynne and I really enjoyed the open and sort of honest conversation that came from that interview and from all of the interviews in this episode. And I highly recommend you check out all of these fantastic writers who so kindly share their stories with us and how they write on the things that inspire them to write and how they do that. So big thank you to all our guests today. And a big thank you to anyone listening. And we'll be back with you for the 30th of October.