Hello and welcome to the full House podcast, hope you had a lovely few weeks. We've got some great guests lined up for this week's episode and we hope you really enjoy. Okay, so the first guest we're going to chat to is Zeke who teaches creative writing, edits has a number of books, one of which is a YA novel, which we are going to chatting about, and we're really excited to find out a bit more about Zeke and about how Zeke wrties. So hi, Zeke, how are you doing?
Very good. How are you?
I'm great, thanks, very excited to have a chat with you. To start off, do you just want to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about, you know, maybe your journey and how you got into writing?
Yeah, thanks. So I grew up in northern Wisconsin, and a lot of sort of what we did socially was telling stories. You know, when you're in the cold and snow for many, many months in a row, one of the things that you can enjoyably do with other folks is to chat to tell stories. And so even though those were like literal stories, people sharing what happened to them, just the basic kind of narrative structure and sense of how to tell a good story was something that got embedded in with in me, from a very early age. And as I went to high school in college, the courses that I really enjoyed were the Literature and Creative Writing courses. And so I stuck with it. Got my PhD. Now, I'm teaching at Eureka College and have published a few books. So that's sort of my journey from the very beginning and what interested me in writing to now.
Oh, amazing, what a journey! What would you say is the biggest thing that you sort of have learned from when you first began writing and telling stories to now?
Something I talk to my classes about is making sure that there's at least a little bit of distance between the author and sort of the characters. I think a lot of times beginning writers don't have that distance. And so people's reaction to their writing becomes very personal, because it's something that happened to them. Whereas if you think about like, well, what I'm trying to do in my writing is explore particular anxiety. So my main character is not going to be a manifestation of me, it's sort of this thing, which allows me to kind of look at why do we behave in a certain way? Or why do we have the concerns that we do, it's not quite so personal, and oftentimes makes you think about, like, the general behaviors about our culture. And that gives you a little bit cleaner, insight into, you know, why we act the way that we act and hopefully that comes across to the reader as well.
This is kind of related to that, where do you sort of get your inspirations from for writing, and what's it look like when you sit down to write are the ideas just there and you just put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard or a bit more of a process?
I think there are kind of two main sources of ideas. And I should preface this by saying I have a half hour commute to work each day. So during that time, a lot of times I'm thinking about the kernel of a story and thinking about okay, what should the character be doing? What where should they live in the country? What is their background, and so that commute time gives me a lot of opportunity to kind of develop different ideas so that by the time I sit down and actually start to write, usually, I feel like I have some momentum. Yeah. And that helps to kind of deal with any potential writer's block, writer's block. But yeah, as I said, one of the things I tend to write about a lot are like you the weird anxieties are behaviors that we have. So one story that I have is called losing face, and it's set in a doctor's office, and one of the people in the waiting room, their face keeps falling off, and the other folks in the waiting room are not really sure. Like, should they rush to their help? Should they just look at the floor and not make eye contact? And it's that idea. I think, particularly in America, we can feel like offering help, or asking about somebody's background can be really, really impolite. Even if there's a time when really urgently, we should want to extend some kind of help to people we don't. And we kind of hide behind this mask of polietness to say like, oh, it's not my place to do this or that. So that's one kind of source of inspiration I get. Other times I'll kind of look around and and see what do I not see out there and publishing right now? So my daughter has cerebral palsy. And we were looking at young adult literature trying to find good representation of physical disability, and there's not a lot out there. And so, I decided that you know, I'm a writer, so I wrote a YA novel about three disabled characters. And it the the character with cerebral palsy is not based on my daughter in terms of personality. But certainly the kind of things that she has to navigate in high school, and has to think about is sort of a lot of what one of the characters goes through. So looking at what's out there, and what needs to be out there is another source of inspiration for me.
For sure, and is it like, easy or challenging, perhaps to write about things that are not necessarily like, exactly based on but have influences from things around you, and that are a bit more personal to you? Because some people find it really challenging to write like that. And some people find it quite, almost therapeutic. So I am curious for you, do you find it easy to sort of approach writing in that way?
I think it is challenging, but that's, you know, all the more reason to do it. Yeah, that in order to get there, I know, I'm gonna have to work really, really carefully through these various struggles. But that means that by the time I get something ready for publication, like it's as sharp as can possibly be, so that it you know, it's the double edged sword of yeh it is a lot harder but also, it makes for the better final piece, I think.
Yeah, yeah, I can definitely see that. And how do you find the editing process? So once you've like, got this, maybe even just the first draft of piece how do you then go back and decide, Oh, these are the bits that I need to work on? Because that can be really daunting, especially for me. So I wondering how you sort of approach these things?
Yeah, absolutely. I also find it daunting. Yeah, I think that there are a couple of things I'd say. The first is definitely you want to set it aside for a good long while, so that you can come back to it. And once I'm surprised by my writing, I know, I'm ready to actually start editing it again. So for the novel, you know, I wrote the first draft, let it sit for like a month and a half. And then when I couldn't always remember what was going to come next, I knew now is the time to sort of look at it and say, okay, well, why am I doing this? Because some of the first draft is you're just kind of pushing through and figuring out what you're trying to do. And so then, when you've forgotten what you're trying to do, you can ask yourself, okay, was that a good idea or not? Whereas if you're still in that mindset of like, yes, I remember what I was trying to do. I think the tendency is to stick with it. And to not question why you did what you did. But that sort of stunts your revision. So for me, definitely a big part of is making sure I've had enough time away from this, I'm coming at it with fresh eyes. And the other thing is that I think, again, this is a particularly American mindset. But we so I want to be productive, that we want to think every minute I've spent writing has to result in a good piece. But I think that part of the editing process is just asking yourself, is this actually worth my time. And so I think the older I get, the better I am at saying you know what, this is something that I'm just going to throw away, because, you know, instead of saying every piece that I start has to be gold, recognizing like, these are the pieces that are going to be exciting enough to me that I am going to follow through and polish it enough, that's going to become a very good piece, focusing on those pieces is going to help you sort of produce the best writing overall. That's my opinion anyway. So knowing when to throw stuff away, I think is actually a really, really important part of the writing process.
Another question I had for you around sort of your book, and the way that you're writing about these things that you're not seeing represented very much. I wondered what that was like. And if you perhaps felt pressure writing about these things. Because you know, when you write in like a genre you write something that's been written quite a few times there's a sort of sense of familiarity in that and you sort of know what works and what doesn't, but when approaching something that doesn't, you're seeing much of, does that make it harder or do you feel more pressure in that way?
Yeah, definitely, I feel a little bit more pressure. So there are a couple ways this manifests itself. One is recognizing what I'm borrowing from my daughter's experience, and making sure that I'm actually building on that is one form of pressure. Because again, I don't want to feel like I'm stealing somebody else's story. Particularly if I'm not like working with them. If I was collaborating with someone to produce a book, it'd be different. But when this is supposed to be for me, you know, the things that I think are pretty common for her experience. So thinking about what orthopedic braces she uses, thinking about, like finding shoes that fit those braces, thinking about navigating a crowded hallway. That's something that like anybody who has kind of her class of CP would be thinking about. And so trying to stay true to that, and also trying to think about how that impacts you know, their lives day to day in a more deep way, there's that kind of pressure to feel like you've done a good job of it. The other form that the pressure kind of takes is, if you're trying something new, to feel like you have a sense of what the rules are a sense of pressure. And sometimes that's reading within the genre to say like, okay, well, what's going on with YA right now? But sometimes, if you feel like you're forging something new, it's trying to figure out where did this idea come from? So another thing I've been doing lately is, I've started writing these reviews of books that don't exist. Yeah. And so you can make claims about like the publishing industry and the nature of the book that you're reviewing. And in that way, it's really fun. But it's also sort of like, okay, well, you know, what tradition is this out of? Is this, like, a kind of thing where you're writing about something that doesn't exist? And that's kind of the trick of it? Or are you trying to be like, super postmodern and self referential? Or where is this idea coming from so that you can kind of fulfill your vision as effectively as possible?
Yeah, yeah, I see that. And I mean, what I think is really good about your approach to writing, and your sort of the writing that you've has that have that does approach these sort of these issues and representation, it's just amazing. And how have you sort of found the response to your writing?
Well, thank you very much. I really, really appreciate that. Yeah, I mean, I've gotten some positive response on it. And I think that go with what you're saying. We're in this era in publishing, where there's like, not just niches, but niches of niches. And so the idea of like, why and disability, and the publisher I'm working with, you know, I like to focus on writing, I'm really bad at marketing, that's really not my strong suit. But they were really good at like, looking up the Library of Congress classifications of seeing like, Okay, well, it's this, it's also this. And it's also this, not in a limiting way, not where they are told me like you can or can't do this in your writing. But once I had it, figuring out like, what's the best way to try and get this into people's hands, and so that I was really grateful for, and I think, hopefully gets me a few more readers and helps the folks who would feel most gratified or most acknowledged, by reading a narrative like this are actually able to get access to it?
Absolutely, definitely. Was there anything that sort of surprised you that you weren't maybe expecting about the processes? Just generally, you know, like writing a novel and writing any of your, your books?
Um, I think because I, I had written short stories for years, tried to novel once and tossed it away. And it's just, I'm still, even now getting the hang of plot for something the length of a novel, you know, it's really hard to manage multiple storylines at once, and figure out when a conflict should happen for this character. And yeah, then do I bring in this character yet, or not quite yet. And so, yeah, just the complexity of trying to manage an ensemble cast wasn't necessarily a huge surprise for me. But sort of, you know, I have a greater appreciation for the novelists who can do that kind of thing and have really tight narratives where there's a clear logic to what happens when.
Something else I wanted to ask you about was generally across the writing process, how long did it take? And what were some of the highs and lows?
So for the novel, I'd actually had two kind of false starts where I tried to get it together and just had to toss it aside and say, this draft is not working out. Yeah. And it was the third time when I actually produced what, at least resembled the final product in there. If I memory serves, I set myself a goal of two pages a day, which seemed manageable. If you do that, it's you know, between three and four months that you produce about a novel length manuscript. And so so then I set aside after that, and I also so I wrote it out longhand, then transcribed it. And so I was even making adjustments between those two stages. Yeah, set aside again for a little while and came back to it. So it was you know, If you're talking about first attempt to finally holding in my hands, it was probably a good five years, I would say before I actually saw it as a book.
Yeah. And what was that like to actually like, see this thing you've been working on for so long actually sort of a realized, you know, fully sort of completed project? How did that feel?
Yeah, it was really, really gratifying. You know, I'd had short story collections before. And my first book actually was, um, for anyone who's been to a lot of poetry readings, you'll know that sometimes the introductions to poems are longer than the poems. And so my first book was just a collection of all introductions, and there were no poems.
Ah, that's amazing.
Thank you. It's actually the press that put it out. The head editor got a job writing about women in sports. And so the press become defunct, but it got picked up by Salmon publishing and is going to be out a new edition in 2023, with some updated pieces.
Oh, amazing. Can't wait for that. It's definitely something to look forward to.
Thank you. But those you sort of like, I would write individual pieces and then accumulate them until I had enough. I could put them together and have a coherent book. But this is the first time where I sat down with the intention of I know what book I'm writing from the beginning. And so yeah, doing that was just another level of okay, this feels really good and I feel like I've accomplished something beyond just kind of tinkering here and there.
I can just imagine that as an amazing feeling. And how would you describe your writing? So in, you know, in a few words, like, for example, is it flowery? Is it detailed? Is it stripped back? How would you sort of describe your writing?
Oh, yeah. So linguistically, I would say it's relatively stripped back. And that, Adam Johnson, when he came and spoke at my graduate program, he said that, you know, you should let nouns and verbs do most of the description. And I think there are good times when you should not follow that advice. But for the type of writing I do, I think it was really good advice, and it tightened things and made things just a little bit more dynamic and kind of focused.
And how is that sort of because obviously, YA writing is, as you say, its own sort of, you need a specific type of writing style for that genre alone was that hard to sort of adapt you know, from the beginning, if you hadn't written in that genre before to then writing in that genre? What was that like?
Yeah, I think it was challenging. Um, you're right, that it is different. I think one of the main differences is that, you know, in creative writing workshops and teaching, we teach show, don't tell, yeah, but in YA, there is actually quite a bit of telling, and so allowing myself to do the telling, and not feel like well, I want you know, everything to be subtextual is really a different way of thinking that, I think is one of the reasons why I had a couple of false starts as I was just getting used to No, no, this is a whole different way of thinking about what storytelling is.
That is interesting, really is I can't imagine, because as you say, there's so much you learn about what writing should be, and you have all these rules that are ingrained in you about how to write, and then to sort of flip that on that head must have just been a bit of a strange experience.
Yeah, definitely. And so yeah, you feel kind of like, somebody is gonna come and yell at you for doing it, actually, your reader really wants you to do. So it's a little strange. But after a while, you kind of get the hang of it. And, you know, the more different styles of writing that you have at your disposal, the more types of stories you can write. So, yeah, good for me, overall.
I suppose to sort of round up for some of your sort of future hopes and goals and dreams for the next few years?
I had started a novel a little bit before the pandemic hit. And I set that aside, because, you know, like a lot of my pieces, there were some social commentary in it. And it felt like, by the time I finished this and get it published, it's going to be a different world that I'm commenting on. And so I'd like to come back to that when I have a feel for you know, what things will be like five years from now. But it's so strange to think about, you know, describing the world and do you reference COVID in this? If you do then how do you write it so that by the time it comes out, it still feels accurate? Because, you know, the way that's changed our interactions has been so significant, that it's just sort of like it's hard to grapple with the ways in which I try and engage this or don't. So I'd like to get back to that. Eventually, in the meantime, I'm always chipping away at different short stories. And like I say, I've started writing these fictional reviews, that probably will be like a subsection of a future collection of short stories. And those are really fun. It's for that in the introduction to poems project I did, it's great to make a bunch of claims about what a piece you wrote did without having to actually pull it off. So you can make it sound as good as you possibly want it to. And you don't actually have to deliver. So I'll probably keep doing those. And again, just kind of keep accumulating short stories, little weird kind of observations.
Amazing. That's great. And then, so where can people find you and your work if they were interested in looking you up? And are there any pieces that you or books that you recommend people head on over to if they're just sort of getting to know you and your work?
Thank you. Yeah. So my two most recent books are anti social norms, which is through closet skeleton press. And then the three of them is the young adult novel I reference. And that's from Rogue Phoenix. And, yeah, if you just want to get kind of a taste for it, fictive dream just published a piece of mine called hosting. And it's about somebody who during communion gets bitten by a host. And then like a werewolf becomes made out of, of host, you know, a Catholic sacrament. And so that's kind of one of the weird pieces, but also kind of gets at a sense of, I think what a lot of my storytelling is like, and yeah, if you just GoogleZeke Jarvis, after a bunch of, you know, reviews on my teaching there will also be a number of pieces out there. You know, the pieces I've had in thrice fiction, I think, are pretty on brand for me. And a couple of creative nonfiction pieces that I've written for a magazine drunk monkeys, you can get a general sense for my style and sense of humor, I think.
Brilliant, amazing. So hopefully lots of stuff for people to go away and have a look through there. And just thank you so much having a chat with us, that was so interesting to find out more about your work and your writing. And I just loved chatting to you, thank you so much.
Thank you, I really appreciate your time, it's been really a joy talking to you.
So that was absolutely brilliant. And I really enjoyed that. And now we're going to be speaking to our next guest who is Thas. And Thad is a writer with three chaps coming this year. Thad is a writer, journalist by trade and also run a podcast called joy venture, where the podcast spoke to people who took crazy leaps of faith do something they were passionate about, even if they didn't necessarily have skills or training in that. And Thad is also an artist as well, which is fantastic. And they say that their entire professional life is around storytelling. So I'm really excited to find that a bit more detail about some of those elements and speak to Thad. So hi, Thad how are you?
I am great, thank you so much for having me.
Yeah, definitely. To start off with just want to tell us a little bit more about yourself, and maybe how you started in your journey of creating and writing?
Sure, absolutely. Well, as a writer who has been around for a while I was about three decades into this writing process of mine, that has been a journey that hasn't been very linear in many ways. And so I was sending out submissions with the envelope and the self addressed stamped envelope to get the response. And, you know, wow, the world has changed. We get to do it electronically, and much faster now. But it's been a wonderful process just to think about where things have been in 25/30 years of writing, in what works and what doesn't. And I just, I'm a writer by by trade, in terms of my my day work, I'm not I'm not like an English teacher, I'm not I'm not a professional poet or writer. I do business writing during the day. So it's always a matter of trying to carve out that extra time to like, do the stuff that has been lingering in the back of your brain and things that you want to get out or, or just write differently from the way I've been writing for 678 hours during the day. But that part, ironically, for 25/30 years hasn't changed all that much because I still have a day job and it's just navigating the world of, of when do I have time to write? And and how do I make the most of that time? And I think you, me, a lot of others that maybe listen to this podcast, we all have this challenge, right? We have we have other lives and other responsibilities. And so how do we, how do we tackle that? How do we make this sort of fanciful dream that we have part of our daily reality?
Absolutely. That's fantastic. And so interesting that you've been writing for such a long time, and you've been able to see such a shift. I mean, what's the biggest thing that you've learned or that has changed from maybe where you first started writing to now?
Great question. There's, the way I write is largely the same. And, and I'll explain what I mean by that. 20 years ago, I went to some writer conferences, and I literally got my head handed to me, and I'm like, I have no business being here. This is total imposter syndrome. I don't know what I'm doing. And it was a humbling moment, because I was in classes with people that were taking MFA or you know, just just a different, different place than I was as a writer. But I was I was blessed to have a poet that was teaching a class that took me aside and said, look, you don't fit in this class. And I'm like, Yeah, I know. I don't. And she said, but I, I see what you're doing. And she pointed me in the direction of writers like Charles Simic and James Tate and Russell Edson, these guys, these absurdist surrealist writers and the type of work that I was writing at the time was in that that line, I was doing more prose poems, and fiction and unlined poetry and I just, you know, 20 years ago, there just wasn't that many outlets for it, it just wasn't as acceptable as we're seeing today with hybrid forms and a variety of different opportunities. But that's really where it all started for me. And I felt like okay, I'm, I'm not a complete misfit at what I'm doing, just stay the course and you be you, right, and don't try to write like somebody else write the way that you write. And I did that for the better part of 20 years. And I feel like the opportunities are just now presenting themselves in the last five years in ways where those those opportunities weren't there for me 15/20 years ago. So ironically, a lot of the things that I'm that happened to get published now, early drafts I've written 15/18 years ago, and I keep coming back to them because we can always improve their work. But the sort of genesis of the way I write and topical content of what I write is largely kind of the same, it hasn't changed a whole lot. And just one last thing on that, I would, I would say that we talk a lot about maturing as a writer. And I actually don't believe in that. And what I mean by that is, I think we mature as people and we have different views and different positions. But I'm still the writer that I was 2530 years ago, I'm still that writer, I'm just choosing to write differently, or I'm choosing to writing write the same. And so I am still that writer that I was 20 years ago, and that's okay, because it's informing the, the way that I write today, I talk about having never lost that sort of childhood wild imagination, and I just found little ways to continue to foster that to keep writing some of these absurd poems that are right, or flash fictions, whatever ever you want to call them. Because I've, I've, I've stayed true to writing the way that I only know how to write.
Yeah. Oh, I love that answer. I mean, based on what you said, um, something that I find really hard sometimes is, I always worry that I'm going to run out of ideas, or that is this piece I've written? Is this my best piece? And why am I ever going to be able to get better in like, a year's time will I have run out of things to say, and I wondered, what is it how has that been like for you? Because you have been writing for, for a successful like a long amount of time. And so did you ever have these thoughts at the beginning? And do you know, how has that worked for you?
Sure. I'll first say even though I've been writing this long, I really haven't been published for that long. I would, I would say over the last 15/20 years, it would be like one or two publications a year. And then really in the last three or four years, it's it's taken off into a into a stratosphere that I couldn't quite have imagined. And I think there's something about that delayed gratification, at least for me, that's been helpful, because it was never about the publication. So to your point, this like was so what do I write about next? What do I write about next and have I written my best piece? And I don't think I've ever I've ever looked at my writing that way I look at I look at everything as such like a singular project, a singular piece. And it's a singular idea. And half the time I don't even know where it comes from. It's a, it's a, it's a word that I wrote down that I heard that made me giggle or, or a snippet of conversation, like who I just love the way those words come together. And I put the stuff in a notebook. And sometimes I'll, if I'm fortunate enough to be at a place where I can just stop what I'm doing and go write something that's kind of wonderful and beautiful. But my process isn't, well, I get my coffee, and I sit down for two hours in the morning and I crank stuff out, it's just I unfortunately, don't have a life or a lifestyle that accommodates that well. And so I'm stealing bits and pieces of day and night. And I'm stealing bits and pieces of conversation or crazy things they see or hear. And they just take on a magical world of their own. So I don't really, I don't overthink the, where's that going to come from next. Because it just, I think if you're a writer, you're attune to language you're attuned to when you're reading things that like, ah, the words and in scenes that this take you in other directions, and you think, you know, five, two minutes ago, you were reading something else, and now you're on to this whole other tangent where you're writing a different story, you can't you have a hard time manufacturing that like, this is what I'm going to do and it's going to happen, it doesn't work that way. It's almost like you have to let the right thing and the story in the poem come to you.
Is there like, I'm interested to know about your art and your paintings versus your writing? Is there a big difference between them? Do they often overlap?
It's a great question. And I will tell you, again, another sort of unplanned thing, by way of COVID, I just had some margin in my life. And I, I painted off and on, just because it's it's a laborious process to set up and tear down and I've got kids and a family and no space to do it. And, and so it always just sort of sat there and I kept thinking someday, someday, and well someday arrived during COVID, when you're at home, and there's only so much you can do. And I just I took over a dining room table and started painting and what I have found, as a writer who writes, for a living other types of work, sadly, my poetry doesn't afford me to live off poetry. What I found is that turning off my brain to do something creatively, that allowed me to still listen to music and just sort of float away and not worry about language or syntax or whatever, I'm just looking at color and brushstrokes and, and muscle memory and whatever. It allows me to put my brain on rest. And as I'm painting, this amazing thing happened, which is other ideas for writing came out. And my mother had been diagnosed with dementia a couple years ago. And it's getting progressively worse during COVID. And, and she's forgotten who I am. But through the process of painting, I've started an entire creative nonfiction sort of micro memoir of, of bits and pieces of stories of my mother and and what she's meant to me as well as the things that we're going through in dealing with the disease, which is a form of writing, I never would have pursued sort of the creative nonfiction style. But it literally came as a part of taking a break, turning my brain off in painting, and I paint everything from landscapes to sort of abstract heads and things of that nature. It allowed just this, this opportunity for me to consider writing differently, which I think just in our daily grind of how we do things, it's hard to get out of those ruts. And I just don't know if I ever would have pursued being so personal in my writing, had I not stepped away and actually done something totally different creatively, but allowed my brain to rest and stop thinking about the words.
Yeah, and I wonder if you had to describe your writing and say one word versus your art and paintings, but what words would they be?
Wow. I think there's a part of, there's a big part of the paintings, and a big chunk of the work where it's just absurd, right? There's these crazy little stories. And so I have these heads that are these bodily figures that have like, mixed up heads, right, and it's a little absurd and you have to, you know, be in the mood for that that kind of like kind of work. The same is true, I think with with that sort of prose poems that I write they're, they're they're crazy. They're wacky. They're surrealist and I love James Tate, Russell Edson, these guys that that that just mashed up really funny and crazy and weird stuff that was entertaining and I, that just sort of like fills like a, it scratches a childhood itch for me if you will. And so I don't mind my work being in, you know, kind of an absurdist camp, I'm not this, I don't take myself too seriously. And therefore don't take my writing overly serious. And I try to, I try to have fun with it. And if somebody can read it, whether they call it a poem, or a prose poem, or flash fiction, or whatever, whatever people have, and I mean, people outside of the writing world, like, read this. I want them to smile, I want them to enjoy the minute or two that they read it and think, Well, I wasn't expecting that, because I think there's this that again, that childhood wonder when we're kids, and we learn how, how to read poems. And we do that for a while. And then we then we forget all about poems. And then we were forced to learn poems in high school or some other point, and then everybody hates it at that point, in my experience, is nobody wants to hear from the poet. And so in the back of my mind, I've always had this this, what if I could write stuff that would surprise people that I didn't expect poetry or whatever it is, whatever form you're calling this, I wasn't expecting this. And I actually kind of like it. And I think that has been a driver for me for a long, long time of I can't compete in all in certain camps of writing, I don't want to be that kind of writer. Just be the writer that I can be, brings a little bit of joy to someone and that's a bonus.
Amazing, I love that answer. It's definitely really interesting to hear about your perspective on that. And I'm also curious about when you're describing before, like these, these snatches of time that you managed to find create. I'd love to know a bit more about that, and about how you get in the headspace of switching from normal life to creating.
Yeah, I think it was easier when I was younger, I had more maybe maybe more downtime, as I've grown into a having to be a responsible adult with a family at all. It's like it's hard in and it's hard to find time, and I'll be honest, the for me, the most productive time is very late at night, my entire family's asleep. They are morning people I am not in so I find that I I steal those moments when everyone is asleep, and the moon is out and I can look outside and nothing going on in my brain is free. And the work is done for the day. And I can actually pedal or just like mess around with language or an idea that I have. But it's it's also hard because I'm there's I'm fighting this, this temptation or this, maybe it's this realization that I got to get up in six hours and be on for work. Am I doing what am I doing doing this and I realized that I have to do this, this is this is part of my makeup and who I am. And to deny it is to fully deny, I think partly what I was created for and it's there's a level of joy that comes out of its those days. Yeah, I'm going to be a little bit tired the next day, but it'll be worth it. But I would say, my goodness, the majority of my written work, if I can put a timestamp on it, it happens from like midnight to 2am. I will tell you there are seasons. And I think it's the thing I don't think we talk about enough as writers is that there are seasons and it may be days, it may be weeks, where I'm just unproductive there's just nothing. There's nothing coming. And I don't I've learned not to get frustrated with myself. And it's like, okay, this is a season where maybe you need to lean into more reading. And stop. Don't worry about producing so much. Read other works, we read works that you hadn't read before. And so I try to sort of divert my attention to the point where that writer in me is like begging to come back as opposed to forgetting about them. And I find that over the years. It it works. It comes back that any drought of writing and I don't typically buy into writer's block but but there are just seasons where you're not motivated or you know, you just it's just not there. You don't feel like it and that's okay, you got to give yourself permission to step away because you don't want it to be this this this sort of millstone around your neck that you feel like you have to go down with it. If it's not if you're not enjoying it, if you're not appreciating just the moments of doing it, then you have to check your motivations of why you're doing it in the first place.
Yeah, I think that's a really important point to make. So, yeah, that's brilliant to bring that up. Because I do think sometimes people can get a little bit overwhelmed by seeing that some people, write, absolutely, like every day without fail, and they're like, why I'm not doing that, am I less of a writer for that. So I think it's definitely really important that point you brought up there. And I think it's definitely we need to remind ourselves of that sometimes that we sometimes we do just we have seasons, as you say, it's a great way to describe it, where we're just not as productive. And that's fine. And we can get back into it. And say, thank you so much for bringing that up. I think that's a great point.
I think there's, there's reasons for that, for that lack of productivity, and but in a digitally, you know, connected always on world. Yeah, we see what everybody else is, is publishing, and we feel like we're falling behind. But what we don't see is the writer who's taking care of, of a sick child, or, or an aging parent, or whatever it is, and life goes on and, and our writing is important to us. But it's not everything to us. And I think when we can take a half step back, and we realize that everyone is out there posting their best stuff. It seems like everyone's getting published, if you, you take a look in their feeds, and it's like, they haven't been published in a while either just like me, and they're excited that they're posting this piece. And I try to sit there and applaud them for their moment, because I'm sure there are plenty of moments they have, where it's seasonal, it's dark, and it's not happening. So I do my best I can to sort of lift up those writers in the moments where they where they have the moment of success, because we all need, we all need those people cheering us on.
Yeah, I agree with that entirely. And so going forwards into like, say next year, the next few years, what are some of your your hopes and dreams for for your writing creation journey? If you have any?
Yeah, I think at this stage of my life, you know, I'm, I'm at midlife, so to speak. And I'm looking back and I'm thinking this is not the way I thought it would go. And, and I'm okay with that. And in fact, I mentioned earlier to sort of have this delayed gratification, which I think we all struggle with in an instantaneous world has benefited me tremendously to say, it'll come if it's meant to be it'll come, it'll happen. But you have to put in the work. And so what I'm what I'm hopeful for now, as you know, I I feel like I'm one of those rare people where, where this whole COVID lockdown shelter in place actually benefited me. I'm an introvert. So I should actually be honest that, for me, the social aspect didn't didn't harm me as much. But but it allowed me some, some margin to pursue other things that I was interested in. And so the goal going forward for me is, as the world speeds back up, and whatever normal looks like, again, chances are normal wasn't good before. I mean, there were things that we didn't like about it before all of this happened. But But what I found was I had margin to do the things that mattered. And so now it's guarding that margin time. So I can paint so I can write, and, and pursue those things that truly do matter. I think to answer your question, my hope is, is there would be a short micro memoir of this journey I'm taking with my mother, I think I would love to see that come to fruition at some point. Whatever else I'll be honest there, the publications I've been blessed to have three publications happen in the same year. And I'm, you know, there's a part of me that sits here and scratches my hands and why did it take 20 something years. And then it all happens at once. But but I'm grateful for that. And I have no, I have no expectation that will happen again. But I'm going to pursue it as if it might. And I think that's enough for me, I, I I just want to be alive in the moment, keep creating stuff that gives me joy, and hopefully somebody else enjoy, and that's really all of the expectation I put on it. It's it's kind of worked to this point and fingers crossed that it'll continue going forward.
Absolutely. And that's just such a brilliant way to close out our conversation. There's amazing living in the moment. That dream and thank you so much for having a chat with me. It's been fantastic to hear more about your journey and how you approach your writing and creating. So thank you so much for having a chat.
Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me on.
So that was absolutely wonderful chatting to Thad, I think a really important conversation and lots of really interesting things that pop up from there that I think we can all appreciate and think about in our lives of creation and writing. And next up we're going to be chatting to Lorraine who is our final guest for this episode, and the Lorraine has a debut novel out, this is our undoing, which is fantastic. I've read this novel. And it's absolutely brilliant. And this was released in August, from Luna press. So we're going to be chatting to Lorraine, about this novel about the process of novel writing and novel releasing, and about some of the other elements that are at play here. Sort of merging like science, and literature, and how everything comes to play. Um, so I'm really excited to chat to Lorraine. So hi, Lorraine, how are you?
Hi, I'm great, thanks. How are you doing?
I'm great. I'm really excited to find out a bit more about you. So to start off, if you just want to introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about yourself, maybe how you sort of began writing or how your journey started?
Okay, well, I'm going to Lorraine Wilson. And I write fiction, that's, it sort of spans genres but it genuinely has a touch of the speculative in there somewhere. I live in Fife and Scotland by the sea. And I by training, I'm a conservation scientist. And I worked in academic research for years in various fairly remote corners of the world. But then I developed disabling illnesses, which made me made it enabled me unable to carry on working in academia. So that was actually when I had to take a step back. And I needed something, I knew I needed something to stop me going a little bit stir crazy, and to give me a focus and a structure to my day and stuff like that. And I've always loved stories and loved folklore and that kind of stuff. So I thought, I'll give, I'll give that a go. I'll try telling my own stories. And, and here we are roll on a few years. And my debut novel was out in August. So it's, I fell in love with it very quickly. And I'm so grateful I found it, because it's just been an absolute godsend with with living with the disabling illness.
Absolutely. Thank you for that it is great to hear a bit more about yourself and how you sort of fell into writing. And so what was the process like of writing this novel? I mean, a massive congratulations on that. What was the process like? Was it hard? I mean, I imagine obviously, writing a novel is challenging. But was there anything maybe that you didn't expect from the process?
I don't know. It wasn't the first novel I wrote, I did write another novel, it's never coming out of the locked box it's in the world does not need to see that. And I wrote another novel, novel after that, which is actually coming out next year. So they're kind of getting published in the wrong order these two. So this one I started writing at around the time that Brexit got voted for, and Trump got elected. And I was sort of feeling very powerless and very frustrated by my own powerlessness in the face of these sort of worldwide events. And this story, kind of the theme of the story kind of started with that, that question of, of what do you do in the face of that powerlessness? And does it matter what you do and the smaller decisions that you can make? So that was that was the question that started me off. And then it kind of evolved, as I wrote the story into the question of how much of the monster would you be willing to become to save the people you love? So yeah, and then the setting, it was kinda is very intrinsic to the story, it's very important in the story, and that was somewhere that I had been in the reader mountains at around the same time, and I love to this sort of feel of isolation in the wilderness. And we stayed at a house that was in the middle of nowhere, and it felt very Agatha Christie, sort of, and then there were none. So I love that idea of the sort of the claustrophobia of that isolated station, in this vast wilderness, the contrast of the vastness and the claustrophobia really appealed to me, so, and I've worked as a research scientist in those kinds of habitats as well. So I kind of came to it with a fairly good feel for what those that area felt like and look like and stuff, which definitely helped in my research side of things.
Definitely, I mean, a question I have for you, is these characters you've written, they feel so real, like, there's nothing I questioned, I'm like, ooh, they wouldn't do that. They just feel so so real. I was, it definitely made the reason the reading, so much easier to fall into. And I really was invested in them because they weren't these like, really random characters that were pulled out of nowhere. And I wondered, were they based on any one, how did you make them so real?
No, they're not based on anyone. I think one of the things when you're writing the kind of the baddies so to speak is that I've always felt that that expression I don't know who first said it, but the expression that every bad guys that is the good guy of their own story that you know that they are to them. They're doing what's best, and everybody has, nobody's perfect, right? So the good guys make mistakes and the bad guys I try to do things for what they think are good reasons, perhaps. So I think you have to start from a point where your characters are not one dimensional, they don't just have one, one sort of plotline, one aspect of their characteristics in the story. And I love I love looking at characters psychology and building a real sense of, of what their flaws are and how their flaws have shaped them and how their past has shaped them. And I think if you come from them from from that sort of approach, then when you start writing them on the page, they come to the page very rounded and very complex. So that's the theory anyway, so that that's how it read is great.
Definitely, what impressed me most was that it's not only that you wrote each character to be so real, but I mean, the characters, there's quite a few. And they're very different. I mean, we have children, we have teenagers, we have adults, we have older people, and you do it so well across all the different ages and spans of each character. And I just found that fantastic. I mean, like, was there any that you found, like harder to write than others? Or was it difficult sort of like switching between characters and their motivations?
I did have to do a lot of thinking about each one's character arc. So each of them even sort of the slightly less central characters, I developed character arcs for them so that they felt very, they weren't just sort of reflections of the main characters, and they weren't just reacting, they were making their own decisions as well. In terms of writing the different kinds of ages, I found that really fun, actually, my writing my my stroppy teenager, an angry child and my lost child, and I just, yeah, I really enjoyed being able to switch between such different voices. And I think, for someone like me who I think dialogue is something I have to work quite hard at when I'm writing, it was quite fun having such contrasting voices, because it really made me dive into that and really explore those, those contrasts.
That's really interesting actually say about dialogue. I mean, it's definitely one of the things I love most about this novel, I really felt like that's how we got a lot of the story in the best way. And I mean, I as a reader, this is a personal thing, but I don't love too much like heavy the setting description. And I felt like you balanced really well, the sense of description, and we knew exactly where we were against the dialogue and the characters and the interaction, I just thought that was so brilliantly handled. I wondered like, how conscious these decisions were, and how much you had to think about the balance? Or did it just come like pretty naturally to you?
Um, it's, I don't know, I mean, I tend to overwrite the kind of lyrical side of things, I tend to get a bit carried away with metaphors and sentences that sound pretty, but perhaps aren't necessarily very clear. And I tend to underwrite dialogue. So when I go back and edit, I go back knowing that those are my kind of habits, my quirks, and I need to check that I'm, each word of my descriptions is earning its place, and that my dialogue is saying enough. And, you know, when I read it aloud, does it sound like a real conversation? Or does it sound a bit, sort of stilted and monosyllabic. So it takes a little bit of editing, but it come it flows fairly well in that first draft. And then I, you know, I go back with the editors kept on, check for my own little foibles that I know I have.
Another thing I found really interesting was, there are so many lovely themes. And some of them are so delicate and so subtle at times, and you don't sort of make a big deal out of them, they're there, and they're present. And then some of the themes are a bit more to the forefront. And the ones that how difficult or easy it was navigating these different themes and choosing which ones are coming out at play when?
Well, I love I'm a bit of a planner. And I'm, I think it's my scientist background. I love drawing graphs. So I draw a lot of graphs with my characters kind of arcs and my sub plot arcs and things like that. So that kind of helps me keep track of that. But I also love playing with the language and how to hint at subtext and hint of emotion in scenes without sort of spelling it out to the reader. So that's, that's definitely something I really, really enjoy playing with as a writer is, you know, using the images that you're that you're playing with all the bits of scene that you're describing to do more than just scene setting to tell parts of the story as well. And I think that allows you to be much more delicate with some of the things you're trying to say, if you're just making the setting or the the behavior of your characters tell that for you, you don't have to sort of wade in there with lots of exposition or lots of explanation for things. And I know that I, you know, I do leave the reader to do a lot of they're sort of piecing things together, I don't spoon feed you. And that's kind of, that's the kind of thing I like reading. And I like writing that way as well. But it's a personal preference thing I know. And I think some readers have struggled with that, because they would rather be provided with more of the information. But I like, I like piecing puzzle pieces together when I'm reading. And I felt like it was quite true to the theme of this story as well that people are having to make decisions without knowing everything. And I think that's true to life, too. We often have to make fairly significant decisions in our lives without knowing what what the implications of that might be. So it felt felt very real to me to have it that way in the story and to treat things quite gently and quite subtly, sometimes.
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I mean, the whole the whole book, felt like such a natural breath of fresh air to read. I mean, I don't usually be necessarily read in this type of genre either. And I'm not scientific in the slightest. But way that you sort of handeled the language and the scientific elements, I was not born in the slightest I loved it, I find it really interesting and really intriguing. And I thought that was just such anm you wrote in such a wonderful way of bringing everything together. And I just thought that was fantastic. So an amazing job. Definitely making someone not that interested in science really interested.
And, yeah, I wondered on the editing process, how long did it take you to edit from this is just give us a rough sort of get, like, estimate from like, start to finish? How long would you say the process took you?
The editing process? Well, I think I probably spent about six months editing. And then I got some feedback, suggesting that when I first wrote it, I wrote it from three points of view, point of view. And I got some feedback suggesting I should focus just on Lina's point of view. So I completely rewrote the entire thing, while doing involved a lot of plot changes as well. So I basically started now opened a whole new file and started from scratch and wrote the whole thing again, so that if that all counts is editing together, that kind of increases the time. But yeah, drafting usually takes me about six months, and then editing about six months again. But I mean, as you probably know, editing kind of how long is a piece of string? And it's only when your editor says, no, that's going now to the printers that, that you have to accept that that's done?
Absolutely. I mean, I tend to write small things. I, my poems are short, my prose is short, so I can't imagine writing that many words and then having to edit that. I mean, was it ever daunting? How did you break it down into sort of like manageable chunks so you're like, yes, I can get through this many words?
I think that's something that I've had to really train myself to juggle with, with the illnesses because my, my energy levels are quite low. And I have days when the pain is pain levels are too high for me to function, or I can't look at screens or whatever. So I have to, I have had to learn to be quite forgiving of myself when I can't do things. But also, I like setting myself with targets, because that helps in my motivation. So I tend to tell myself that I have to write 1000 words a day. And then there'll be days when I write more, and every day is when I barely write anything at all. But feeling that sense of progress helps and but only considered like 1000 words isn't that much, really, especially when the words are coming quite easily. So it feels achievable. You know, even when even if it's it's a bit of a struggle that day, it still feels fairly within reach. And that it breaks it down. And it's not. You're not just thinking oh god, you know, I've got to write a chapter today or I've got to write two chapters. It's fairly bite size and doable. So yeah, less scary targets are definitely better.
I think that's a really good advice. And what would you say is the biggest thing that you learnt from when you first started say writing until now?
Oh, I don't know. I think one of the things that has been such a joy and such a treasure is to discover the writing community and my my writing friends and they have been are they're just such a godsend and such a lifesaver. You know, everybody struggles sometimes and everybody loses faith in their writing sometimes. And you you know, I post online in one of my groups, I'm really struggling and I will get such support and sort of both both kind of lifting support and kicks up their proverbial, which are both good, equally valuable. So I think that's the greatest thing that I found is my network of friends, because they're just, they're wonderful. But also, I think, something I really enjoyed discovering was that there's a whole new skill set to writing creatively. Because I came coming from science, you write a lot, you know, you're writing research papers and project proposals and all the rest of it. So you sort of you've, you can write, you can construct sentences and all the rest of it. But turning to creative writing, I discovered this whole new world of techniques and toolkits and theories and stuff, which I, I really love. I've really enjoyed learning, and I still am learning that you know, you don't stop I don't think. So. Yeah, it's just, I just have fallen head over heels in love with the whole thing. And yeah, the people and the graphs.
That is a fabulous answer, I love that. And for anyone who's wondering, like, the process of actually getting a book published, how difficult or easy was that for you? And do you have any tips for anyone who's sort of wondering how you did it?
Well, I don't have an agent. Now, I didn't have an agent for this book. I did in the past, but I don't now. And so I submitted directly to my publisher, Luna press is an indie publisher in Edinburgh. And they had an open window for underrepresented writers. So I submitted to that. And I think I mean, I am so happy with Luna, they're just the most amazing supportive, outward looking forward looking press, they've got a really diverse list of authors, and they're so positive and supportive. They're just brilliant. But I think in general, submitting things, you you do have to brace yourself for a lot of rejection. It's not easy, and nobody has a smooth ride unless you're a celebrity. And so that takes some dealing with and again, that's where your writing community comes into play, because they will support you through that, because we all go through it. So I think I think social media is really valuable for familiarizing yourself with the publishing world and finding submission opportunities and publishing houses and seeing what kinds of things people are talking about. And people are, you know, looking for. So, my advice, although I mean, social media can be a bit of a black hole, can't it? But actually, I think it can be really useful for you to find out what's happening out there.
Oh, brilliant. Yeah, it's definitely some great advice there for people to sort of go away and have a look. And, and sort of looking forwards you've mentioned that you have some things in the pipeline, and another book, which is really exciting. Is there anything else you're sort of working on that you can tell us about or anything upcoming that is exciting?
Well, I've got, like I said, I've got my next book, which is called the way the light bends coming out late next year, with Luna again, I'm in the middle of editing another book. So I don't know where that's going yet. But that's something to work on. I've got another one out with a couple of publishers at the moment. So yeah, I don't know more books, more books are coming. I've got various short stories that I need to write as well. And the novella that I've just planned. So lots and lots of things happening. But, yeah, it's just a case of actually having to focus on one and write it in the moment.
Yeah, that's the thing. How do you balance like, how do you find a balance of writing versus your everyday life?
Well, my everyday life, I don't, obviously, I don't work. So I'm at home, I have a daughter in school, and that actually provides quite a good structure. I know I have the school hours to work in. So which is quite handy, actually. Um, but in terms of choosing what to work on, it's kind of deadlines help, they are definitely good. But also, I think you need to sort of move around a bit. So if I've just edited a book, it's quite nice to be able to then write some short stories or write, do a bit of research for another book or start writing another book. Likewise, if I've hit a wall with writing something, it's really good to step away and do something completely different for a while. So it kind of depends how well things are flowing. What I'm, you know what I work on, but I do need to set myself deadlines. Otherwise, I drift between projects a bit too much.
I think that's very understandable and very relatable. And sort of round off, what are some of your future sort of goals and plans like for the next year? Like maybe where do you hope to be?
God. I don't know. I don't know. It's, I mean, I think I just I'm loving this whole debut author thing and seeing my book out there and seeing people reading it and loving it. And I think it sounds a little bit corny, but my biggest aim, as a writer has always been to connect with people. And to feel like perhaps my book has resonated with someone. And if something that I write, has made somebody somewhere feel a little bit sort of understood or a little bit seen about something that maybe they're experiencing or have experienced. That's, that's the ultimate for me, that it that my words might matter to someone. So that sounds really cheesy, doesn't it? But that, that does matter more than sales figures or, you know, anything else to me. So yeah, so that's kind of I don't know, in terms of goals, my goal is to try and get people to read my book.
Oh, wonderful. Um, well it is an incredible book, I loved reading it and I really loved chatting to you. Thank you so much for giving us the time and the chance to learn more about you. Thank you so much.
Thank you very much. It's been good fun.
It was absolutely brilliant chatting to Lorraine, I really enjoyed that and finding out about the Lorraine's processes, and about the way that the fabulous This is our undoing was constructed. So thanks for that.
And now we're going to end the podcast off by reviewing a very brilliant, wonderful site that publishes some fantastic work. Usually we do issues, but today we're going to look at some recent published pieces from sledgehammer. And you may have heard of Sledgehammer they are fantastic, but in case you haven't, sledgehammer publishes poetry and flash four times daily. And they want to tear down the wall shatter preconceptions, and break down barriers. They also want to showcase spirited poetry and flash. And they appreciate technicolor imagery, acrobatic turns of phrase and geographic settings brought to life. And that's a bit about them. They're really fantastic. And they welcome all voices and creators. So we're just going to look at few of their published pieces, most recently, and they just do really fun, fantastic writing. They're such a showcase of high quality writing that can tell a really powerful story in quite a fun, imaginative way. And I just love the way that their pieces really put a different perspective and spin on things. And so I'm really excited to look at a few recent pieces from them.
And so the first piece we're going to have a look at is In the queue for breakfast on the postnatal ward by Katie. And this is a fantastic piece. And there's also a voice recording of this piece, you can hear it read aloud. And that adds a totally different wonderful perspective on it. But this is a brilliant, brilliant piece and I'll read you aline just to get a glimmer of that, 'I realise that he has taken the last piece of toast, the last piece of toast.' I feel like that's that's the crucial element to this story. And this is a wonderful story. It's told so well in not, you know, too many lines. This is like a really tight story. But there's so much I loved going back and having a look through the lines. Katie writes in such a wonderful way, so humorous, really, really humorous. And the amount of detail, there's such a good amount of like push and pull that pulls you in and gives you enough room to sort of picture what is going on in this amazing moment. It is fantastic and the language is brilliant, and I love the way that you can really, there's so much personality in it. That's what really shines through about this piece. It's not still and cold, it's just vibrating of life and personality. Oh, it's just brilliant. It's so real. It really just this is one of the best pieces I've read in a long time. And I think it is because there's such a sense of like, life within this piece. I feel like I'm just looking at something that there's no sort of fabrication. There's nothing sort of emphasized and made up for a fact this is just literally a picture of a real life moment. And at the end we get this really really funny humorous, sort of twist and line and it's a brilliant piece and I highly recommend you check this one out. I love the way it's written as well that the form of this piece is really cool. It really puts great emphasis in certain lines and really gives them impact, the use of italic in this piece is really good as well. It's so so well written, there's not too much punctuation. We have like a first sentence, a second sentence. And then we have a whole sort of section in the middle. And it has commas. But it's a whole sort of consciousness and a stream of the story. And then we have the full stop at the end on its own separate line. And the line breaks are so well constructed in this piece is fantastic. And it was the perfect read. For me, I just absolutely adored it. And it really put such a great smile on my face.
And then another piece that does some really cool things is place in the world by Nick. And again, there is a sort of sound to go along with this piece. It's so good. It's brilliant. It's again, not got much punctuation, and it's got commas. But it's all like this one long segment its absolutely brilliant. When there's pieces like this, I love just looking and zooming in to specific sentences and really taking those and zooming back out and seeing the whole piece as it is and reading it in order. And then also you now zooming in on random bits and reading those. Because each individual line is so powerful on its own tells such a wonderful story and is so well written. The last the first line really pulled me in so I'll read out for you. 'We see ourselves in the places we once inhabited, all at once, every era ticking separately like forgotten watches placed in dusty junk drawers', its just absolutely fantastic. And I've liked the way this is written in the tone that's written in, it's just, it comes across so brilliantly. And it really pulls you into the piece, the way that the scription is used. There's not many cliches when it comes to describing things, you really get quite unique sort of perspective. And I just think it's really, really intelligently written, the descriptions are not something that I'm like, oh, yeah, I've seen that a million times. These descriptions are really, really interesting. And this way of writing is not something that you know, you see too often. It's just so brilliant, I felt such a boldness and confidence about this writing. And I mean, when you read it, it just sounds so good, for example, that would rise and fall like lungs collecting fluid, the piece just flows so well, it has such a fluidity to it. And as I say each section is just gorgeous. I really, really love it. There's a cool line about 'remembered ice cream man days and melted SpongeBob and gumball eyes and commercials on television'. And I think this would be really fun just to let like you know, read in one go as by the recording. But I mean, it's brilliant. It's really like an experience reading this, it really sucks you into this moment. I feel like there is a lot of different ways where you could read this and really sort of get to connect to the story. It's not something that you read once, and you're done. No, this is something that you want to go back to and keep sort of dissecting and looking through. Like everything just feels like a tiny puzzle piece each each line between the commas. And it's so fun sort of putting it all together. And because there's so many fantastic images going on here. But I feel like you just need to like read this a bunch of times before you see some connections. And these images sort of come together and you can zoom out and get the bigger picture of all the different individual gorgeous segments. So this is just a really fun one. And really well written, like the tone comes across here is just absolutely brilliant. And the ending is great. I feel like it's so hard to end pieces like this. And when you have this sort of stream and then it has to come to a stop I feel there's a lot of for me, I'd feel a lot of pressure and getting a good ending. And suddenly the pace, you know, the change of pace to end the piece. But, you know, Nick does this really well. And it's just a really brilliant piece and I highly recommend you check that one out.
And then another brilliant recently published piece is A LONELY BATH by T. L. Sherwood, and this is such a tight, fantastic piece of prose. We start with his bath and we end with this bath. And I love the way that this is written it's written in quite tight short sentences. And it makes it really easy to sort of get into the piece. It's really not like the longest piece in the world but you really feel you get such a good sense of this character. And like the the character Mary, you really get to understand her in a way that I feel like is really hard to do with so little words. So, I mean, it's just an amazing job at showing the character. We're taken through like this like a long period of time. We go from young, to a bit older to old in just you three paragraphs and it's brilliantly done and you get to learn so much in so little, which is really fun. It's a great example of giving the reader what they need, but also allowing them to sort of gather their own image as well. I love it when writers do that is brilliant, like I'm just scrolling through and like scrolling back up and scrolling back down. And I've read this so many times now. And it just gets better every time I read it. It's so clever. I mean, on the surface, it's so much humor in it. And it's just brilliant. We have like this unicorn element and that adds something really interesting. It's just written in a really cool way. It is brilliant, I highly recommend you check this out, its so well written. And there is a balance of like dialogue and description and scene setting and story setting. I just think the narratives done so well. And as I say, I'm just in awe at how much and how much story is given to us in so little and how well that is put across. It's just it's great. Every little paragraph, I keep going back to it and reading it because it's just, it's just brilliant. And I'm amazed that the talent that's in this and how well this is written. I wish I could write like this honestly. It's such a fantastic piece of writing it really is. Yeah, this is exactly my type of writing with the sentences and the way it's written and the tightness and the confidence and the boldness and the way that it's so delicately been put together. It just creates such a fantastic piece. And I really highly recommend you check this one out. I enjoyed reading every word.
And then another piece that was really cool is Women Like Her Breathe Fire by Kavya. And yeah, I mean, this is a fantastic piece. I really like this one it is written so well. And what I love about it, is it's a really long piece. And typically I don't read poetry pieces that are long. But this is fantastic. The way the story is weaved in the narrative sort of unravels, is absolutely fantastic. And it's such a wonderful experience to read. I mean, this writing style is phenomenal is absolutely fantastic. To give you an example, and I'll read a few lines. So one line is 'Swimming in a lake of idiotic sentiments, that do not work in a lion’s household' and then we have a few more brilliant ones, for example, 'Doesn’t he still realize that the walls
of their house echo the story of two people strongly fallen out of love?' And this is just such a powerful piece when it comes to relationships and power and how we express that and what that means. I love the way that this is written and the tone it's written, then it feels like every word has a bite to it. I think it can be in struggle sometimes to sort of, you know, bring a reader in and pull them in for a significant amount of time and keep them focused and keep them sort of engaged in your piece. And this is such a great piece that does that. And I'm always so in awe of pieces that do that, I mean, like, is fantastic. And each every line is just sharp. So well crafted, it's so talented. And I mean I've spent a lot of time just going back and reading through these lines. And each one just hits you harder. Again, the second time you read it, the third time you read it. This is a proper proper, well constructed narrative with really cutting lines that are just brilliant the image that this piece evokes is fantastic and it's just such an impactful piece. It's so so intelligently crafted and written. And I think it's fantastic. I highly highly recommend you check that piece out.
And then another piece of that was absolutely outstanding was product recall by Laura and this is fantastic I love the way this is written it is in such a clever structure and such a clever form. This is the type of writing that immediately draws me in when I see these gorgeous, different headings and it's written with like bullet points is so good. So for example to taste what we're looking at, I'll read you a line. 'Please return all mothers who cannot: Replicate Etsy craft ideas, Create shop-quality birthday cakes' And we have these lists of elements and it so so well written I think it's so relatable so honest so real. And the last line of the please return all mothers who we have 'regret' and these lines just pack such a punch. It's absolutely fantastic. I think, you know, you've got these elements of humour within this piece and then we have these these lines that really hit you because they are so real, and there's a gorgeous intensity about it that balances so well with the humour behind it and the reality. I think it's so well done. So, so clever. It's just a really, really tight piece. I mean, so much is done within this piece. I just think the form is fantastic. The language is fantastic the tone and the image it creates is just brilliant. And again it is one of these pieces where you know, from start to finish, it's just such high quality writing, I mean, the very last line we have in brackets, '(Contact Customer Services for your FREE replacement)' It's just a really well thought out fantastic piece that does some really great things and really enables the reader to enter into the piece, there are my favorite types of pieces. And my favorite type of writing is writing where you as a reader can really interact with the piece. And this is a piece that does that brilliantly. So just a fantastic job from Laura. And I really recommend you go and check out that piece.
And then the final piece we're just going to be looking at today from Sledgehammer is how to fix a dripping tap by Kathryn. This is a wonderful piece, the way this is written is just fantastic. So it's broken up into step one, step two, step three, step four, step five. And in between all these steps, we have this narrative that unravels. And we have this lovely balance of like, where we have the water jargon and, and there's like screws, and dismantling going on. And then in between that we have these gorgeous segments, you know, about youth. And it's really, really humorous at points. And I think it's such a clever piece. As soon as I read it. As soon as I read the first few lines, I was like, okay, this this is this is a great piece. It's just a really unique way of storytelling, I think piece like this where we have something quite ordinary or boring to sort of set the scene, but then we're thrown in with a balance of like, really interesting personal glimmers into life. I think they're fantastic. And Kathryn does this so well and really gives us the perfect balance of these things. And the result of that is a really, really well constructed piece that readers can just really connect to and really relate to they, I found this such a great piece really clever, I really enjoyed it because there's a lot of humour in this piece and in the language. And that can be hard to do, especially in a piece where it has to be so tight and well crafted. I think sometimes it can be hard to get the right sort of humour in there. But this is really subtle. To the point where you just like you'll come across a line that you just sort of like smirk a bit if you're like oh yeah, I get what you did here. This is really good. This is a really clever. It's a great piece of really, really clever piece. It's a fantastic piece and I highly recommend you check it out.
And so they were some pieces I really enjoyed recently that were put out from sledgehammer and sledgehammer consistently put out such fantastic pieces of such a high quality. I think what they do is incredible, and it's always a highlight of my day, checking the cool stuff that they put out. So definitely check out Sledgehammer if you haven't already, send them your work, read the fantastic pieces they put out. They are wonderful, wonderful, welcoming, fantastic place. And you know, they're a real celebration of writers and writing. So highly recommend you check out sledgehammer.
And that brings us to the end of this week's podcast. Thank you so much for listening. We're gonna chat to some really, really cool people next episode. So stay tuned for that. If there's anything you ever want us to talk about any journals you want us to review, or anything like that do get in touch and let us know! Have a lovely rest of your week and goodbye.