Got five minutes to spare whilst you sit down to a well earned cuppa? Why not take a gander at these fabulous writing tips and anecdotes provided by the extremely talented contributors from issue 2 of Zest. Archived posts of all contributors from Issue 1 and Issue 2 can be found in the Why We Write section of the site. Enjoy!
Sarah Jean Krahn, author of Pulp Fiction
1) What inspires your creativity?
My best pieces grow out of raw emotion. Writing in these instances is a coping mechanism that allows me to turn sometimes destructive feelings into something useful and meaningful. I also occasionally find inspiration in odd objects or events that I have a desire to capture the essence of. In the case of “Pulp Fiction,” inspiration was from a combination of emotion and an object, a chunk of paper pulp that I kept in my bedroom as a child.
2) What conditions do you like to write in?
This has changed for me over time. I used to like to write anywhere and everywhere about whatever happened to strike me there. Now my writing tends to be much more deliberate, and I like the atmosphere of the university library where I can smell the mustiness of all the ideas around me. Writing in a public space feels awkward sometimes, but it can help by simultaneously increasing my consciousness of my self and allowing me to tune in to ideas outside of my self.
3) Are there any writers that you most strive to be like and why?
I really appreciate writers who strive to incorporate the political into their work. I have a particular attachment to feminist-conscious writing, and this is why I was inspired to co-create S/tick. Having studied English literature in school, I have a strong feeling that masculine writing is privileged greatly, not only as showcased in the traditional canon, but also in the current realm of creative writing. Two writers I like for their feminist consciousness and unconventional styles are Alice Walker and Nicole Brossard.
4) What is your favourite book and why?
And now for something completely different! No matter what I read, my favourite always remains The Monster at the End of this Book. Grover is an awesome protagonist. He engages his audience directly through the 2nd-person p.o.v. (“Did you know that you are very strong?”), and the illustrations even offer eye contact! The reader is encouraged to participate in the events of the book and consequently comes to acknowledge her active power as a reader—she is no passive bystander to the stories she takes in.
5) Do you have any tips about the writing process?
Don’t be afraid to revise. I used to refuse to revise because I saw the writing product as inspired, perhaps spiritually in a way, and I didn’t want to compromise that original idea or feeling. I still struggle with revising because I’m impatient to get my ideas out there. But it’s always worth it, even 5-10 times, with something radically different as the end product. The best tidbits remain and get the idea across much more effectively than the unfortunately unnecessary pieces that get discarded or turned into something else.