1. How do you feel about entering contests only for the “fame” and not “fortune”?
I write because I have something to say, and I want my message to reach people and bring them hope. Entering contests with fame as a motivation may lead to more people seeing my work in the present and the future, so I believe that entering only for fame is legitimate, if not fundamental.
2. How do you stay motivated?
I read. I write. I observe. These actions allow me to think on a deeper level, and they motivate me to write about my thoughts, share them, and hear other people's reactions. I carry a small notebook in which I quickly write down thoughts as I have them, so when I need inspiration I can always go there.
3. Do you ever experience writer's block?
I often experience writer's block. When I do, though, I try not to get frustrated, because I know that will only make it worse. I usually put down what I'm writing and read stories or poems similar to those I am trying to write. This helps inspire me again, but I don't force it. Some days simply aren't good for writing. Usually when I let it go for a while, and continue to read, I have a burst of inspiration when I least expect it, and I get going again. I also find that going back and editing what I've already written reminds me of my purpose and abates the blockage.
4. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
Of course, everybody does. Like the renowned poet Billy Collins said, "We're all born with 200 bad poems in us." I crumple them up and start over, hoping to do better next time.
5. Is there a message in your stories/poems that you want readers to grasp?
I wish that readers of my stories and poems could find hope and strength to move forward. Sometimes literature reveals elements of ourselves that we had forgotten, or it reminds us that we are not the only people with certain feelings, and it makes us feel united. I hope my writing makes others feel less alone.
6. Are experiences you write about based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I tend to write poetry based on pure emotion. If I have an overwhelming feeling, I try to write some sort of poem, whether narrative or lyric, that evokes a similar emotion in the reader.
7. What books/authors have most influenced your life?
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky has influenced my life incredibly. Chbosky crafted Charlie’s story in such a way that sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that it is fictional. More than anything, though, it reminds me that no matter what I’ve experienced in the past, it is important to be kind and empathetic moving forward. I carry the book with me when I feel particularly anxious, and I read it when I need comfort.
8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author of prose is John Green. His novels contribute to my growth as a human being, reminding me to have empathy and imagine people complexly. He writes beautifully. My favorite author of poetry is John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. I admire the emotional response he can evoke with simplistic writing. He is extremely insightful and not only improves my understanding of myself, but he also reminds me that there is a way through the labyrinth of life and that there is light within the tunnel, not just at the end.
9. What was the hardest part of writing your story/poem?
The hardest part of writing poetry for me is actually in sharing it. Poetry is such a personal art form and the physical act of writing poetry is such a personal experience that sometimes it takes tremendous strength to share it. But writing is meant to be shared, and if my experiences can benefit the lives of others, it is worth the vulnerability.
10. Did you learn anything from writing your story/poem and what was it?
From writing my poem I learned that negative emotions are not all-consuming, and that they are often responsible for many great life experiences. For example, I would not have connected with some extraordinary people if I hadn’t had certain moments of emotional distress. It is important to share your life with others, to make the darker parts more bearable.