"I'm not sure if I'm too lazy to make things up or too fascinated by reality. Most of my creative work is personal. As Charlie Warzel of Buzzfeed once tweeted, "I like to ruin my life for content." People (read: my mother) say I should just write fiction. Sometimes I say: Maybe I do. Other times I say: Listen. Look around. Isn't this shit too good to ignore?"
"You can certainly write solely for yourself, and never send anything out into the bewilderness, but I write not merely to express myself but to commune with others and tell stories to entertain and enlighten."
The natural world is central for my work, but I find that the sublime landscapes of the American and Canadian Rust Belt are now exerting a tremendous influence in my life. I live two hours from Detroit, Michigan and I make time to go exploring there. I feel that Detroit in particular is the nexus of so many of the issues that drive me: ecological, racial, historical, post-colonial, industrial and contemporary political. Plus, the art of Detroit is inescapable: it is present in Diego Rivera's murals; Motown music; Detroit jazz and blues history; graffiti; Detroit rock musics and techno; and of course the physical landscape of this fascinating city.
"I’m a big fan of picking up stacks of random books at the used book store and just taking them home to read. Lots aren’t that good, but there’s a random pearl every once in a while that’s pretty wonderful."
One of my favorite things to do is explore old abandoned roadbeds in the Uwharrie National Forest. I was attempting to describe this pastime to a friend at work, and it became painfully clear that I wasn’t successfully conveying so much as a tenth of the fascination it holds for me. As I was driving home that day, what I had tried to communicate in prose started coming to me in fragments of verse. By the time I reached my house it was a sonnet, and I had finally said what I wanted to say. It’s entitled “An Old Roadbed” and it was published in Volume 2, issue 1 of Edify Fiction.
"I find that the best work I create is when I write about events I have experienced– the last thing I want to do is misrepresent an important event because I don’t have the insight that only one who has experienced it firsthand could have. As I continue to work on and hone my writing, I’d like this to change, and expand my work to more global events."
For me, creativity is the way to connect with the world. Many of my creative pieces, if not directly related to my experience, are shadows of my feelings expressed through words and art, or are narrations of experiences through the eyes of another character that I try to put in the shoes of people I know. Creative pieces hence let me bare myself of my emotions, while also helping me understand other people. When I find it difficult to relate with a person, from time to time I try to define a character and imagine living that person's life. It is also a great way to find empathy and understanding for persons I perhaps would not want to relate with otherwise.
Creativity can also be less of a mirror and more of a window. Can I, with my experiences and world view, show something to someone else that changes their perceptions? Can I cause them to see other perspectives, to understand the experiences of others a little better. In today's political and social climate, I spend a lot of time thinking about this, about the extent of responsibility and ability that creators possess to make the world a kinder place. I don't have the answer, but I do believe it warrants thought.
When creatively in tune, one is in tune with life. The two are tandem. Notice things. Relate. That's a writer. That means every pain anywhere, any joy anywhere, all of life combines within the soul of the artist as shared.
"I find the most inspiration from simple vices. The guy that works the same job everyday, but at the same time, he's living another life entirely once the closing bell rings"