Q&A on Writing

Answers by Leslie I. Benson

1. When and why and how did you start to write with a literary purpose? 

I began writing in junior high school with the serious goal of becoming a poet. After friends, family, and teachers guided me and suggested that writing was my greatest strength, I chose to follow the profession by majoring in English/creative writing at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. From there, I sparked an interest in journalism, which I had first experimented with when I founded my high school’s newspaper, The Tribal Tribune. That later evolved into years of journalism graduate studies, countless unpaid freelance writing gigs (which were awesome, by the way), and eventually full-time journalism jobs.

2. What do you want to express when you write?
Writing is a way to unveil my inner thoughts and fears and throw them wildly into the arms of a raw, unfamiliar public. My poems are often sensory descriptions of scenes I have observed or experienced. They are up to interpretation and usually deal with the core subjects of spirituality, love, passion, and loss.

3. What do you enjoy writing?
In addition to writing poetry that often hits too close to home, I also write and publish articles from my interviews with musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs. In addition, I write music and lyrics, blogs, and short stories about various underground subcultures. Music and writing are my passion. I also dabble in photography.

4. What’s your creative process?
I document things I observe around me, random conversations, and thoughts that peak my interest in a working journal. When I dream or experience something fascinating, I also write it down and draft it into a poem or short story later. I usually get my best ideas in the shower or behind the wheel during rush hour.

5. Discuss your writing techniques.
I am spontaneous and prefer stream of consciousness writing. I adore description and believe the five senses are the most important parts of a poem or story. (e.g. “The mauve shag carpet curled under her toes like wet cat fur.”) A writer, however, should not stray from serious literary study and structure until he or she knows the rules of writing. Once the rules are known, they can be broken. That is when free verse comes into play. I would rather write free verse poetry, for example, but I tend to write structured song lyrics. Writing in general must be honest, no matter how much the truth hurts. Great writing comes from blood, tears, and don’t forget the sweat.

6. How do you define yourself as an author?
I am a surrealistic, progressively modern author.

7. In the presence of a creative block, what kind of solutions do you take?
I use the old “cut and paste” trick. I revisit old journals and borrow words and descriptions I wrote down at an earlier time. It’s perfect for curing writer’s block. Listening to music also helps me to focus.

8. Do you believe a writer must be open to dialogue with other authors?
Yes. Writers must always learn from other writers, read others’ work, and discuss new works in workshop/group critique sessions. This helps improve the quality of writing. Writers should always be learning, observing, and absorbing information.

9. What advice do you have for other writers?
The most important tool for a writer is to embrace his or her own life experiences. Don’t be afraid to delve deep beneath the scar tissue within yourself. Your dreams and fears are what readers will connect with.

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