I don’t think there was a single moment where I actually realized I wanted to be a writer, it was more of a lengthy process over the last seven years. In 2011 it was actually the therapist I was seeing for PTSD that suggested that I begin writing on a serious basis since I’d always enjoyed it as a little hobby on the side. Since then I wrote several full length manuscripts that remained dormant on my computer for years until I decided I wanted to publish my works in 2017. After studying the publishing industry for several months, my first book finally came out in January 2018!
What, in your opinion, is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, the hardest thing is keeping things consistent. If I don’t write for a long time I’ll probably become disinterested in the story, but my creative juices flow whenever they want and I don’t try to alter that, so that inconsistency can definitely cause big bumps in the road despite that it doesn’t usually take me very long to complete a story. In the entire publishing process though, writing is the easy part!
Did the thought of giving up writing ever occur to you?
Giving up writing? Never! Giving up publishing? Definitely. It’s so much work! The work also doesn’t stop once the book is polished and published. You also have to dish out a lot of money without knowing that you’ll ever make a dime back, so it’s a gamble in itself but I think that the magnitude of the job is only measured by the depths of the rewards, and it’s definitely a rewarding business!
What works best for you when writing: pen and paper or computer? How so?
I usually only write on the computer in order to avoid having to type up whatever I wrote on paper because I’ve learned my lesson about doing that. Typing up a 10 000 word short story is brutality so I wouldn’t want to try it with a 100 000 word novel! Aside from schoolwork, I also only use the computer for writing. In general I have quite a distain for technology and the internet, and if it weren’t for my writing career I would probably unplug completely. I’m old-fashioned, like still into snail mail old-fashioned!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
You’ll usually find me reading when I’m not writing, playing with my two cats, dabbling in old-fashioned instant photography, collecting postcards and making action figures with recycled parts. It’s actually my passion for creating little soldiers that inspired my most recent published book. In it, the main character Joanie also passes the time by making action figures and is extremely surprised when one of them comes to life. Now, I just hope that nothing like that happens in real life!
Are you currently working on a story?
Indeed I am! I’ve just started (under duress from one of my best friends!) working on my third novel that will be called After Anderson. It’s actually a rewrite of something I wrote in 2014 but never published. It’s about the aftermath of a school shooting and the students who must pick up the pieces. It was inspired by a real life incident of school violence (though thankfully nothing to the scale depicted in the book) when I was in my last year of high school. A 14-year-old boy was arrested because somebody tipped off the authorities that he was “plotting a Columbine” as it was described and that disturbed me greatly because the environment at school was absolutely terrible and that was the only thing that hadn’t happened yet. Just a few months ago there was another incident of a kid actually having a real gun at school and the administration tried to cover it up. “After Anderson” is the story of what could’ve been had someone not done anything.
What or who inspires you to write?
Life in general, and life as a whole really, inspires me to write. This includes people, events and places that I come across. Social issues particularly motivate me to write, and all of my writings incorporate social issues in some way, from domestic violence, to suicide, to poverty and beyond, there’s an element of that in there. I don’t write to get away from reality, I write about reality, and it’s also my way to cope with reality. My own life experiences also motivate my writing, particularly my encounters with the social issues I write about.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
It’s basically non-existent really. I write when I write and don’t when I don’t. It doesn’t really matter what else is going on, when I get that desire to write I act on it irrespective of what else is going on. My life isn’t interesting enough to interrupt me writing when I start. This is in fact quite a big problem because as a human rights student, even a part-time student, I have a large workload that I’m constantly falling behind on because I much prefer to write a story!
Do you aim to complete a set number of words per day?
No, I don’t. The creative process just happens spontaneously and I don’t try to change that. I can write anywhere from a single sentence all the way up to 8000 in a single writing session. In general I like to write when I am stressed out because that’s the way I cope with life. In the week after my grandmother who raised me since birth passed away I wrote almost the entire manuscript for “Don’t Let Me Go” in just a few days. It’s what kept me sane at that time, it’s probably what saved my own life.
When did you write your first book?
My first manuscript was actually completed in late 2011, but it was never published. In 2017 I rewrote it and released it as a free download called The Distant Factory on my website, but my first actually published book Innermost was written over the last six and a half years. It’s a collection of poems that I’ve gathered in notebooks ever since I began writing poetry in 2011. I finished fully compiling it in 2017 and then published it a few months later. The reception was much better and bigger than I ever could have anticipated because in the book world poetry usually gets the short end of the stick.