Today we’re joined by Alex Clarke. Alex is a talented young aspiring novelist. She’s written a novel and is quite a productive poet. She has a wonderful enthusiasm and love for the art of writing, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a writer with a particular passion for novels and poetry. Many of my writings deal with complex societal matters such as war, mental health, and religion, but I also reflect myself into my work. My poetry in particular deals with my own life and thoughts, often serving as a mode of emotional catharsis.
What inspires you?
Nature is my primary inspiration, as my mind is never as clear as when I am alone with the world. Every novel I’ve written was begun shortly after a long hiking trip with my family, and I’ve been amazed to see the extent to which those landscapes have influenced the storylines of my books. I’m also inspired from seemingly unspectacular moments, such as conversations with strangers, the way sunlight streams through windows, or the tingling tactile sensation of climbing into a hot car. Questions of science are constantly bombarding my mind, and thus often make their way into my work as well.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I started writing at the age of five after discovering dozens of empty notebooks in my grandfather’s dresser. I scribbled the stories down, rife with spelling errors, in multicolored crayon until my penmanship advanced enough to warrant more precise instruments. I would write countless short stories in those beginning years, culminating with the completion of my first novel five years later. That same year, I wrote three different plays that were performed by my school’s theatre program. My grandparents bought me a book of poems for my twelfth birthday, which catalyzed my passion for poetry. My childhood dream was to be a professional writer, and now, as a high school senior, I’m in the process of applying to college to make that dream a reality.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I love weaving in subtle aspects of old legends and folklore into my work! Other than that, there are motifs that I thread throughout individual works, but not one single thing that encompasses them all.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
There are lots of people who do, in fact, make their careers out of art and do not starve. I am also a young aspiring artist, and it’s been very important for me to learn that happiness and passion are much more important than any salary can ever be, no matter what society says.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as asexual and biromantic.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I haven’t encountered any direct prejudice targeting the ace community among other writers, although I do often see sexual attraction represented as a necessary component of all characters in a multitude of books. This can be very problematic both for readers who cannot identify with many characters in this aspect and society as a whole, as asexuality’s lack of substantial presence in the literary canon can contribute to widespread ace erasure. To combat this, I try to always include ace-spec characters in my stories and discuss asexuality in my poetry.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Many people I know have confused asexuality and aromanticism, and are unable to wrap their heads around the fact that I can be ace while having had crushes in the past. Also, several people have asked me if I’m sure I’m not just gay and in denial.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
It’s okay to be confused! I struggled for a long time about where exactly on the spectrum I fit in (and to some extent, still do), and it’s okay not to know. Do a lot of research, and I’d recommend browsing the internet ace community to find stories of people with experiences similar to your own. There are plenty of people out there that feel the same, and accept you just as you are!
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m not currently published, but I’m in the process of sending a novel out to agents at the moment, so hopefully that will happen soon! In the meantime, I recently started a blog for my poetry, which you may visit at wistfulwordsmith.tumblr.com!
Thank you, Alex, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.