Today we’re joined by Savannah. Savannah is a phenomenal writer from Jamaica. They writes a number of things, including short fiction and poetry. Savannah is incredibly enthusiastic about writing and it really shows. They create gorgeous pictures with their words, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a writer, by hobby—I haven’t published anything yet (unless you count the two or so letters to the editor I’ve submitted to a local newspaper). I enjoy writing critical pieces, fiction, and occasionally poetry. I write about other people a lot, especially my poetry. My life isn’t that exciting (I think), so I use my writing to tell other people’s stories. I don’t think much about form and structure with my poetry. I usually start writing and I won’t stop until a poem is done. It’s somewhat similar with writing fiction: I’ll feel like I have something to write, start immediately, and then go until I feel tired or I have to stop. Sometimes when I stop I can get back into the groove after I’ve rested, but other times I’ll never be able to pick it up again. I always want to give my stories away to other people who would be willing to finish them (I think of unfinished stories as ghosts waiting to transcend), but I don’t always trust that they are well-written enough to pass on.
What inspires you?
Other people, mostly. I’ll be walking in town, or driving on the street, or standing in line somewhere, and I’ll see someone just going about their business and think ‘I wonder what that person’s life is like’ and then immediately I’ll want to write something about them. Sometimes I’ll even write something out at the same time on whatever loose paper I have available. Those are the most fulfilling times.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I was always a bookish child (I used to get books instead of toys), and I developed a love for literature. I wanted to be a writer from an early age, and remember choosing high school subjects based on what I could use to get into a writing school. I studied Literature when I went to university, but I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t have — I feel bogged down a lot with the business of poetic structure and other literary terminologies. When I ignore all that and write for the sake of writing, I feel more satisfied.
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 prefer to write in parts; usually three parts. Most of my poetry gets written this way. Each poem can stand alone, but trios make me feel like it’s a more complete work: Beginning, middle, end. I incorporate this into my fiction too, but much more loosely.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t be too concerned about people liking your work. Your work is worthwhile because it’s your work, not because other people like it.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as asexual.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Not so much prejudice, but there has been a lot of ignorance. When I was in university I wrote a prose fiction piece for a creative writing peer review class and a few of my classmates marked me down for the lack of romantic elements in the story. I have also been criticized by a few friends for not writing about romance or sex. They’ve meant well, but it’s discouraging to hear. In the past I’ve incorporated romance and sex into my writing to please people, but I found that it made me dislike my own work, and so I decided to stop. Generally, I feel like there is too much focus on sexuality as a source of passion in literature, rather than other things like joy and pain and growth. It’s hard to find asexual, aromantic, or non love-centric YA and adult literature, and that’s deeply disappointing.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
“You just haven’t found the right person yet.” Every time I hear this I mentally unfriend the person who says it to me because it’s just downright rude to assume you know someone better than they know themself. I used to try to convince people like that that someone’s asexuality is not in/validated by that person’s relationship with others, but these days I just sigh loudly and roll one eye like in the memes I’ve seen on Tumblr.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
There’s a whole world of other asexual people out there that you haven’t met yet who are rooting for you while you discover yourself. Really. We’re out here thinking about you and we want you to know that you’re accepted and you’re cared for. Even if you aren’t yet sure about yourself. Take your time, invent yourself, and keep on keeping on, you awesome ace being!
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Presently, I run a Tumblog where I’ve been uploading my literature every now and again: http://acomplexmachine.tumblr.com/ and an Instagram account dedicated strictly to my poems: https://www.instagram.com/acomplexmachine/
Thank you, Savannah, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.