Several members of our INKubator family are achieving success with their writing goals.
In this series, we want to let them share what they’ve achieved and how they feel about it. Of course, for us it’s an extra chance to show these INKlings how proud we are of them.
Our current object of admiration is co-founder and admin Jasmine Arch. She’s the beating heart of our server, handing out love and whippings as needed to help keep all of our spirits up. She has an amazing visual eye and a skill with words that belies her exophonic nature. But it’s true–Jasmine is not a native English speaker, although her grasp of rhythm and nuance of the language helps even our native members. Jasmine writes fiction as well as poetry, has a voice that makes even the hardest audiophobe among us want to grab a blanket, curl up and listen, and yields a mean machete when it’s time to hack a piece down to size. News that her poem was accepted to Illumen had us shrieking along with her.
INKling Wall of Fame: Jasmine Arch
Facing trauma, death and disease on a daily basis can be exhausting, but her creativity has become the outlet she needs to keep herself sane.
While her introspective work can be bleak, she also sees miracles in small places and neglected corners and loves sharing those moments of wonder through her writing.
You can see more about Jasmine and get to know her at:
Jasmine Arch’s speculative poem “Mask” appears in this Winter 2019 edition of Illumen, which is published by Alban Lake.
INKubator is very excited that another member also appears in this edition. Keep watching for another interview coming soon!
How do you feel your membership at INKubator contributed to your success?
Without the friendship, support and encouragement, not to mention the commiseration of the INKlings, I’d have given up a long time ago. It’s so easy to lose courage, to let yourself get distracted by other projects that actually don’t feel like an endless uphill climb.
But by working together, holding each other’s hand (albeit in digital form) when rejections come in, when we feel like everything we write is absolutely worthless, and by celebrating each other’s successes, we push each other up and onwards all the time.
What inspired you to write this poem?
It was a poetry challenge given to us by Damian Jay Clay. Everyone who accepted was given a photograph of a hat and we were to write a poem from the persona of someone wearing such a hat.
I got one of those three pointed things, and the wearer also had on a stark white venetian mask. Turns out the mask fascinated me more than the hat.
Do you have any advice based on your experience so far for other writers still struggling for acceptance?
Keep writing. Keep practising. Look at every piece of writing with a critical eye. Treat every piece as a learning experience. And keep submitting those things. Get a rejection? Send it right back out again. Don’t give yourself time to second guess.
Tell us a little about one of your current WIPs
There are two stories I’m editing at the moment that I’m really happy with, but the one I enjoy working on the most is a dystopic piece set in Belgium, where I’m from. For such a small region, Belgium is extremely varied in culture, dialect and mythology.
This story starts out in Brussels and moves to the Ardennes, weaving both local dialects and local mythology into the narrative. This allowed me to revisit some of the places I love and share them with everyone who gets to read it.
It was a bit hard finding the right balance between adding the flavour and atmosphere of the dialects and keeping it understandable to English readers, but I think I managed it. And I hope to see it out there at some point.
What devices or programs do you use at what stages of your writing process?
I spend a lot of time on the go and I try to steal writing time where I can, whether that’s on a lunch break at work, in between training sessions with my dogs, or while outside with my horses. So for drafting, I use Google Docs, which I can do wherever I have my phone handy. And yes. You can get used to phone writing.
Then I put the piece away for at least a week, preferably two, while I work on other projects. I always have at least two stories and three poems waiting to be edited, and I’m always scribbling down notes here and there with ideas, etc., so I have enough to keep me occupied until I allow myself to return to the draft. The rest and time away from it gives me enough distance to edit effectively, and it allows my subconscious to mull things over.
For developmental editing and copy editing rounds, I do need a laptop. A phone screen narrows your perspective to one or two sentences at a time, making it harder to catch word and phrasing echoes, but I still tend to work in Google Docs.
Then, for a final round of editing, I put it away for a few days again. I print it out if at all possible and mark up the hard copy version with a pen; I try to do line edits in this round as well. Somehow, a paper copy makes it easier to spot certain issues. Those edits are then incorporated into my file.
What story/poem/article have you read this year that still lingers in your thoughts?
That would be “Followed” by Will McIntosh, a story that was aired on the Drabblecast as a part of their restart fundraiser last fall.
The idea of being confronted on a daily basis with the consequences of your actions is a scary one, and this story paints a grim picture that really resonated with me. I’ve read a ton of stories and books, but none have remained with me the way this one did.
What’s the most difficult part of your writing process?
To be unafraid. As an exophonic writer, there’s always a niggling little part of me that says, “Any day now someone will see through your beginner’s luck and non-native English and call you out on it.”
And it’s super hard to not let that paralyse me. To not keep agonising over every paragraph and rewrite it and delete it and start again because it’s not perfect.
Most times I really have to make myself keep drafting because the temptation to keep fiddling with what’s on the page is so strong.
What’s your day job and how do you balance it with writing and reading time?
I’m an X-ray technician in a small regional hospital. It’s a full time job, so between renovating our house, caring for my dogs and horses, and feeding my hubs, it’s hard to find writing time.
However, I suffer from mild PTSD as a result from job-related traumatic events and writing is one of my main coping strategies, so it’s important for me to make time, even when there is none.
Fortunately, I’m a bit of an insomniac, so when normal people would be sleeping, I tend to write, edit and read.
Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?
When reading, whether that’s fiction, poetry or craft literature, I try to be as analytical as possible. I try to internalise as much story structure and mechanics as I can. But when I’m drafting, I try to forget all of it and let the story bubble to the surface. Then, when editing, I return to logic and technique and structure.
I try to anyway.
What quote from a book/story/poem/article holds a special place in your heart?
“The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables