Why We Write | Chas Stockwell

I believe inspiration is somewhat of a paradox, in that it can come from anywhere, and blindside you when you’re not even ready.

The inspiration for this piece came after reading John Donne’s ‘Devotions upon Emergent Occasions’. While struggling to read the long, uninterrupted paragraphs, I couldn’t help but agonise over why he had decided to write like this. To this day I don’t know, but I am grateful that he did.

While the content of his long paragraphs didn’t inspire me, the form did. As a writer, I like to imagine and write stories cinematically, but I am also incredibly interested in experimental forms in writing. While not overly experimental, the long, quite harsh paragraphs lent themselves quite well to detailing the state of the narrator in my piece. Without breaks, the text is inescapable and often uncomfortable. This is what I was hoping to add to the piece in terms of form, with the addition of using a specific yet alien title which directly refers to the narrator’s condition.

— Chas Stockwell

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Why We Write | Danai Gabre

This particular piece was very different for me. I usually write fantasy stories, or even novels, or I write travel fiction based on my childhood experiences of China. This is one of those, but with a much lighter tone and from a first person perspective. Generally, I have an idea of where I want the story to go (ending), a midpoint and then I begin to write. Getting going is always difficult for me. Then I’ll get ‘in the zone’ and type out a few paragraphs furiously until I get distracted.

This piece, I actually wrote all within a day. I may have written the first three sentences the day before and slept on it, but most of it was within a day. Then I left it and read it again. Then my wife read it and gave feedback. Finally, the lovely editors of Zest Literary Journal read it and suggested further editing. Usually, the final edition will be a shorter version of the original. Beginnings may be shortened to introduce the main story quicker, or the ending might be made less conclusive. In some rare occasions I flesh out the story with more details. Usually on further edits I mainly struggle with word choices – questions like ‘can I make this sentence more powerful’ or ‘is that word bringing in the right connotations?’ – those kind of things.

Writing to me happens with a lot of coffee, a lot of staring off into space, and some typing.

— Danai Gabre | The First Time I Used the Word ‘Stupid’ | Issue 1