May 162017
 

I’ve always been fascinated with making things. As a kid, my favorite toys were LEGO and K’NEX. The wonderful thing about writing is that it really allows you to make anything out of nothing.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I’ve always been fascinated with making things. As a kid, my favorite toys were LEGO and K’NEX. The wonderful thing about writing is that it really allows you to make anything out of nothing. Basically as soon as I could write I would write stories and even make them into books using cardboard. I guess I really started taking it seriously towards the end of grade school where I won an award for writing Pokémon fan-fiction and also had one of the poems I wrote for an assignment get confused with that of a classical poet. So while I’ve always loved writing and felt like a writer, there have been a few accomplishments that have made me feel like I might have some talent with words.

Describe your writing process.

I try to be disciplined, but it doesn’t always work out. On a good day, I have a morning routine: I wake up, drink water, brush my teeth, stretch, meditate, and then brain dump in my notebook for a page or two. This brain dump is literally just a stream of consciousness, so whatever’s on my mind at the time–I also use it as a time to make a list of tasks I need to accomplish throughout the day. After the brain dump, I do some more focused writing, which is either continuing work on a previous project or planning out / getting started on a new one. I’ve always got something to work on. After that I’ll usually read and then carry on with the rest of my day. I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique, so it’s usually 25 minutes of fully focused writing followed by 25 minutes of fully focused reading. If I’m really excited about a project, I’ll probably come back to it later in the day and do more sessions. I’m a morning person, so ideally this all takes place around 6am  / 7am. I want to do this every day, but I have an extremely erratic life that doesn’t always allow for it. As far as my actual process goes, it’s a little different depending on what it is I’m writing. Poetry can come pretty quick, initially, but will usually go through quite a few revisions before I’m satisfied with it. When it comes to longer material, there’s usually a long process of note-taking, researching, outlining, etc., which can take weeks before I actually get to writing. I like to keep things focused and disciplined, but I’ll never stop myself if I feel drawn to writing at any time–it’s why I always keep at least one notebook with me and have no less than three heavy-duty writing apps on my phone!

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I plan to read a couple of poems from my book of poetry, That One Black Kid. That One Black Kid was inspired by one night during a workshop hosted by my non-profit, Teen Writers and Artists Project. During this workshop, somebody mentioned how they rarely hear poetry about what it’s like growing up black in the suburbs. This comment inspired a poem which then inspired another poem and the next thing I knew I had enough poems to fill a short book of poetry. The book is quite the departure from my typical work, but was a fulfilling journey into a side of myself that was just begging to be explored.

What are you working on now?

Following the completion of That One Black Kid, I plan on exploring narrative gaming (or interactive fiction, as it’s sometimes called). As a big fan of video games myself, I’m planning on exploring some programs and seeing if I can craft some truly immersive interactive experiences. Other than that, I have half-written screenplays and novels to work on, as well as another book of poetry, potentially. Outside of writing, I perform improv comedy every other Sunday night at 8pm at The Comedy Clubhouse in Chicago with my group, Friar Pryor. I will also be performing a one-man variety show in the Elgin Fringe Festival which takes place September 13th through September 17th.

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