Claire Martin–Interview

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.

Check out Claire’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2.

Matthew J. Kreglow–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

It varies. Usually, when the creative mood strikes me, I’ll just write whatever comes to mind, regardless of where I am. I have plenty of writings on bar napkins from my snack bar job, and scribblings in permanent marker on blank label sheets from my warehousing job.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

Generally, I like writing things by hand. There’s a specific pen brand and model I enjoy, mostly because of how the ink looks against the white of the page. If I don’t have access to these materials, I make do with what I can find, even if it means using crayons on construction paper.

What is your routine for writing?

Routine? What’s that?

Joking aside, I don’t have much of a set routine when it comes to my writing. Whenever I have down time during the day, I try to journal about pretty much anything, be it something I read or how I’m feeling during the day. I find it’s good to have some daily writing goals, but writers shouldn’t hold themselves so strictly to writing a certain amount of time each day. This tends to lead to burn out and makes the art of writing a chore rather than something fun and exciting. I know this because it happened to me for a while.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing for a very long time, ever since first grade, even though my handwriting was atrocious at that time. I remember my first book: The Adventures of Superdog. Essentially, I told my mother (to whom I owe so much for encouraging me in my writing) what happened in the story, she typed it out, and I did the illustrations. I had so much fun, I kept doing it.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I write for those who will read it. I tend not to gear my writing to a specific audience, as I’ve found that this is very restrictive and hobbles rather than assists the writing process. I like to write stories that I personally would love to read. Perhaps this means my writing will appeal to a very niche audience, but I don’t mind that. It’s better for you to write something because you enjoy writing about it rather than because it will sell many books.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

This one is actually kind of tough, because there’s no one thing that inspires me to write. Sometimes it’s a single image from a film I’ve seen. Other times, it’s a painting I see or a photo I’ve taken. That’s why if I am blocked, I focus on other creative endeavors and table whatever I am writing for a while. Usually, that break is all I need to allow my brain to start cycling ideas again.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I enjoy going on excursions to local parks to photograph nature. I doodle in my notebooks sometimes as well. I love going to the local theater to take in a movie or checking out a whole stack of movies from the library and binge watching them.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Strangely enough, not so much the process of putting the idea on paper, but everything that comes before it. Coming up with the ideas for stories and poems and forming these abstractions into more concrete ideas is what I love most about writing. That, and seeing all that I’ve written after each writing session. There’s nothing more satisfying that paging through my notebook and seeing words in black ink against the white page.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Do it because you love it, not because you’re looking for glory, approval, wealth, or the myriad of other reasons people think writers write. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll never truly lose that creative spark. And don’t be ashamed if you aren’t able to put something down on paper every time—sometimes that spark needs some time and space to become vibrant again.

Check out Matthew’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2.

Henry Hitz–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I have a study, or a man-cave, in my house where I do almost all of my writing, though I also have a piece of land in the Santa Cruz mountains where I go for inspiration.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I’ve been writing using a computer (first WordStar, then WordPerfect, now MSWord) since I bought an Osborne back in 1981.

What is your routine for writing?

I don’t have a rigid routine. Generally I write on weekends, stoke up on caffeine Saturday morning and write away. I make sure I have a piece to read at my weekly writer’s group.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I wrote my first story when I was 8 years old. It was called “Fate and Pearl Harbor.” I’ve written off and on ever since, but seriously since high school.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

It varies from piece to piece. My first novel, White Knight, was written for the progressive community of San Francisco. My second novel, Supremacy, was written for both people into politics and into the kink community. The novel I am currently finishing, Squirrels in the Wall, was written for people who care about the planet and humans’ relationship with nature, as well as people interested in the nature of death.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

Reading inspires me. The Castle, Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple are three voices that have influenced my writing. I am primarily motivated by an obsessive need to understand the f-ing universe and explain that understanding to my fellow humans.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I’m an activist and political organizer when I’m not writing. I read. I watch the great stuff on TV (Handmaid’s Tale, Chi, Peaky Blinders). I obsess about kinky sex, lol.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

The process itself when it is flowing. Allowing my all too vivid imagination to run away with me.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

There’s no such thing as talent. Talent is a myth designed by our oppressive society to exclude the vast majority of voices from our cultural conversation. Everyone has a story to tell that is profound and profoundly different from anyone else’s, and if you just keep trying to tell it, sooner or later it will be told just the way you want it to be, regardless of whether anyone reads it or not. Finding your voice is the same thing as finding yourself. Expressing ourselves is what we are here for in order to connect with others. It’s all about connection. Reality inheres in the connection between us.  Also, join a writer’s group.

 

Check out Henry’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2, and his story “Turtle Bay,” was nominated for the Pushcart.

 

David Spicer–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I work in a spare bedroom surrounded by books and CDs. Much of the time my cat is with me.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I use the computer for most of my poems, but I often write in longhand.

What is your routine for writing?

I don’t have a set routine or ritual for writing. I write when the mood strikes me, which is often.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

50 years. I started in high school.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

No ideal audience. I don’t write for academics but for myself and for people who care to read what I write.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

Anything that catches my fancy.  I’m rarely blocked. Sometimes I won’t write for a week or so, but usually I’m back in the chair before long.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I watch movies, listen to music, email other writers, read. I try to walk a lot, too.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Listening to that inner voice that says a poem is coming and then writing the first few lines. And then the revision part is as exciting, too. So I guess I like all parts.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Find a couple of trusted readers who believe in tough love and who push you in a kind way. Avoid abrasive critics.

 

Check out David’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2.

 

Lonnie James–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

My favorite creative space is in my home at night after most of the world has long been in bed. I find that I’m most creative at night, so in my living room in between 1am and 4am seems to be the time and space when I feel most comfortable. Honestly, I think it’s the isolation. However, I have done a great deal of work in a studio setting within my college experience with 20 other people in a room where I just sort of have to phase everything and everyone out. I may be there in body but my mind has long gone.

What kind of materials do you use? What mediums do you work in?

My favorite materials to use are Pilot G-2 Pens and India Ink. I’ve also really started to enjoy the use of charcoal. So, I’m sort of all over the place because I think I’m still finding myself as an artist—but what is definitively clear is that dark colors, and lots of use of ink is a very distinctive characteristic that seems to be at the center of my style and/or chosen aesthetic.

What is your routine for art? Do you always sketch first?

My routine for art is to use it as a catalyst for expression when I’m unable to communicate my feelings orally…which seems to be often. I hold a lot of things in, and I suffer from various mental illnesses such as PTSD and Depression. When I’m having bad days, my art becomes my lifeline. It gives me a constructive way of dealing with the feelings and thoughts I’m experiencing.

How long have you been making art? When did you start making art?

I started when I was young and gave it up because of a lack of value in what I was doing. I didn’t think I was any good or that people would care about what I was doing, so I stopped. My professor at BGSU, named Theresa Williams, reminded me what being a real artist was about. It’s not about recognition, or money, it’s about self-expression, self-exploration, and honesty. So I started again recently in college because I started to realize that there is a whole world of people who are open minded enough to appreciate things that I can create.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you make art for?

My intended audience has really only been me up to this point. I never really thought that anyone else would care to see it much. I’ve gotten to a point in my journey as an artist that I feel it’s important to create my art for myself, and if others appreciate it, great, but my intentions for art are really just get my feelings out there in the only way I know how. It just took on this medium with the guidance of people much wiser than myself who showed me that I could do this to heal myself.

What inspires you to create? If you are blocked, what do you do?

My feelings are my biggest source of inspiration. Especially my sadness, and depression. I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be who I am artistically without my sadness and depression. It’s sort of tragic to say in a way, but I’m thankful in some ways for having a hard life because I’ve survived, and now I have so much fuel to create things. It’s a double edged sword though, because it’s not easy struggling. If I’m feeling blocked I listen to music and watch films. They inspire me and make me feel things that make me want to create something.

What other things do you do besides art? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I’m a filmmaker, and a musician. I was in a Thrash Metal band for years, and then after that went south, I decided to go back to school for film. Now I have a real passion for creating films, and writing, as well as music. I’m also a big fan of video games. I don’t have as much time to play these days but I love to sit down and play a good Role Playing Game from time to time.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

I think when I finish. (haha) Honestly the feeling I get when I’m done is such a relief and a sense of accomplishment that it has to be my favorite part. Other than finishing, my favorite is the moment your idea starts to really take shape. When you’re drawing and maybe at first you’re not really sure what you’re drawing, you’re just letting your hand free flow over the paper and then suddenly in the assortment and array of lines and shapes that you’ve created, you identify something coherent, and something that you didn’t think was possible. I love that “breaking ground on a new frontier” sort of feeling when I feel like I’m trekking into uncharted territory artistically. Every so often that happens, and I’m shocked at what I’ve accomplished.

What is your advice to aspiring artists?

I almost don’t feel qualified to give people advice. However, if I gave any advice at all, I’d say think outside of the box. Don’t always aspire to look exactly the way other people might do their work. I would also say don’t be afraid to really express yourself. Art isn’t always politically correct, and it’s not always about playing it safe. It’s ok not to stay within the lines, and it’s ok for something not to be perfect. Don’t allow the idea or aspiration of perfection lock you up like it has done to me. Just do something, anything. Put pen to paper. I highly suggest checking out Lynda Barry’s Syllabus because she comes up with some ways for anyone to make something even if you’re locked up and have creator’s block.

 

Check out Lonnie’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2.

Mela Blust–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I usually work at home, as I tend to become distracted elsewhere. However, I jot down a verse or line on scrap paper occasionally whilst out and about, if it comes to me.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I typically type when I write, unless I am out for the day and happen to think of something I want to record. I do have a connection with old typewriters, though.

What is your routine for writing?

I can feel when I need to write. Poetry is very cathartic, for me, and I can basically resign myself to an entire day writing because I need that release.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I started writing in the third grade. I entered a poetry contest and won. I have never stopped.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I mostly write for myself, but I also write for my daughter.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

I am inspired by emotion. If I’m blocked, I let it take its course. It will come eventually.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I am an artist as well. I sculpt, paint, make jewelry, and pose for painting classes.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

When it is finished, whatever I have created, and it is beautiful to behold.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Be determined. Never give up. If you are relentless, you can reach your dreams. I did.

 

Check out Mela’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2.

 

Diane Hoffman–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I try to work in public spaces because I find at home to be too distracting. I also try to switch up the environment I work in because I find I tend to be more creative or just willing to write or draw whatever.

What kind of materials do you use? What mediums do you work in?

I like a fine tipped pen for making my lines, something like uniball. I recently have gotten into watercolor and marker more, but my go to tends to be colored pencil or just ink pens. I also love working with acrylic paint, but that’s not something I’ve ever used for comics.

What is your routine for art? Do you always sketch first?

I hate sketching first so I tend to nix that step if I think I can get away with it. For comics I tend to use one of those blue sketch pencils that won’t show the marks once the piece is scanned. But I hate sketching, I just want to draw something once and be done with it.

How long have you been making art? When did you start making art?

My mom grew up wanting to be an animator, so from a young age she has always pushed me to make art. I think around seven was when I started to actually care more about the art I was making. I started making comics around that age just for myself.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you make art for?

I try to make art for more of an older audience that likes to laugh or poke fun at things. I also just kind of make it for myself and what I think would be funny.

What inspires you to create? If you are blocked, what do you do?

Getting out of my comfort zone for sure helps me create more. Also being sad is usually when I’ve come up with some of my best ideas, although sadness and misery isn’t really ideal. If I’m blocked I usually take a long walk to clear my mind, and maybe settle down at a new location and start again.

What other things do you do besides art? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I’m a filmmaker, I like to direct, write, and edit. I’m also invested in the improv comedy scene. I’m moving to Manhattan in June, and I’m hoping to explore that scene more.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Being done! Having a thing to call my own!

I also like coming up with the idea, that part is kinda easy. I like making outlines and working out logistics when I’m writing fiction. It’s the executing part I’m not too fond of.

What is your advice to aspiring artists?

I’ve said it already, but get out of your comfort zone. Go somewhere new, try something new.

 

Check out Diane’s work in Volume 4, Issue 2.