Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
If I’m sitting down to seriously edit and write, I’ve got to be alone in my home. I’m typically a highly social type, so I’ve learned that my best space for productivity is one where I’ve eliminated as many distractions as possible. Otherwise, my mind is quick to wander away from the page.
What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
I like to kick off new stories with just a pen and paper. I know I’m ready to transition to writing on a keyboard when the story in my mind starts coming together faster than I can jot it in a notebook. Starting off by hand has always been a great place for me to play with scene before I really dig in.
What is your routine for writing?
I like to hunker down, especially if I’m writing through the night. I’ll turn off my phone and tidy up the space around whatever desk or table I’m posted at.
How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
I recognized an excitement for storytelling in myself somewhere around age five, but didn’t actually begin writing creatively until I was fifteen. At nineteen, I finally started taking the work more seriously when I somewhat absentmindedly landed in a fiction writing undergraduate program. From there, it took off.
Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
For me! I know I say this at risk of sounding cliché, but my work comes from a place of personal catharsis. I remember receiving positive responses to the first short story I wrote in college and thinking to myself, “wait, other people actually like this too?” During my editing process, I tend to take audience into consideration more than I do while writing. Ultimately, I hope to reach people who like to listen to their intuitions, emotions, and the dreams they have at night.
What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
When I first moved to Chicago, I started taking long walks through the city to better get to know my area. I’ve heard that the French word dérive characterizes setting out on walks without a preset destination, just the intention of drifting. For my writing, the power of the dérive comes when the physical motion ignites my mental motion through actually walking, finding myself in surprising places, and observing others. It’s important to know when to step back from a piece and give it (and yourself) a little air.
What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
If I hadn’t found writing when I did, I believe I would’ve gone into photography. I love collecting and restoring old cameras, and certain captured images can be excellent inspiration for story.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
The actual act of writing can be both freeing and agonizing for me, so the process itself is a bit of a challenge. But when a story takes on a life of its own and I can begin to feel it come together, the process gets euphoric. So when I’ve completed an early draft of something that’s ready to be shared, accept feedback, and evolve, the difficulty of the process that helped me build it feels worthwhile. That’s really the sweet spot for me. A fresh first draft.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Trust your voice. If you’ve got a story, only you can tell it to its fullest integrity.