Interview: Morwenna Greenleaf

Today we’re joined by Morwenna Greenleaf. Morwenna is a wonderful writer who specializes in poetry and fanfiction. She also dabbles in music, mostly song covers, and visual art. Morwenna takes inspiration from subjects that aren’t often talked about. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is mostly written word, though I occasionally draw, and sometimes post covers of songs on my YouTube channel, and I have had dance lessons, though I don’t really showcase dancing and don’t really do much anymore. I occasionally write poetry, but the majority is fanfiction written in prose, usually with a theme of fantasy and they can cover really heavy, or not commonly talked about, subjects.

What inspires you?

Well, I guess that events in my life have inspired my stories, but also the stories of others. For example, I’ve always loved watching crime shows with one of my personal favourites being Law and Order S.V.U. and I think that inspires me, because they go into subjects such as rape, kidnapping, and human trafficking. These subjects intrigue me, so I find myself researching them to add into existing stories, or I piece together new stories featuring things like them, which results in a lot of half-finished stories, some of which aren’t yet published so the public can’t read them.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

What got me interested? Well, I’m not sure. When I was younger, I would always make up stories, whether they be epic sea battles with phoenixes, all from a cluster of clouds, or fanfiction, before I realised it was a thing. I always used to just insert myself into the shows/movies/books and tweak the storyline slightly to involve myself. Drawing? I kind of just slipped into it, like with the writing. I was always drawing over my books and scraps of paper, pretty much anything I could find. Dancing, I think one day when I was about three or four, I saw a ballet on TV, probably Swan Lake, and fell in love. After about four years or so of pestering my mum, I ended up doing four years of classical ballet classes, including character, and two years of jazz classes. Singing has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I’d sing around the house as a child, and my dad started taking me to karaoke at bars in town when I was about seven or eight, I think, and I’ve recently turned eighteen, so that’s about ten years of karaoke.

Have I always wanted to be an artist? I think I have, somewhere deep down. I love writing stories and singing, and have always, in the back of my mind, wanted to do something artistic. True, it was always performing, like singing/dancing/acting, but it’s all artistry anyway. I even have the small amount of acting experience that comes from primary school plays, hehehe. I love what I do, but I also have no clue exactly what I’m going to do once I leave high school, because I also love things like science (chemistry and physics), ancient history, and learning languages (I’m currently monolingual, but who cares?).

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?

In most of my stories where I use an OC, her name is generally Jessica McCarten, which is my real name outside of the internet. She’s basically me, but with different hair and sometimes different backstories depending on age, situation, and things like that, which are usually dependent on the story. If she isn’t the protagonist, then she’ll usually appear as a secondary character, but pretty close to the protagonist. Also, my profile pic tends to be the same on all platforms except for Tumblr, and if there’s a running obsession for another fandom or a certain type of music, it’s because that’s most/all of what I’m listening to at that time, or obsessing over when writing the parts of those stories.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Advice to young aspiring artists? Technically you could say I’m one of them, *insert awkward/exhausted laughter here*. I would say to keep doing whatever you’re doing and always, ALWAYS, look back over your old work to see how you’ve changed, grown, and evolved. I personally hate doing this, because my voice recorded, to me anyway, sounds terrible, and I cringe as I read over things like my first story on Wattpad. However terrible you think you were, always go back over your work, and you might find something better. Hell, I’m still looking for a story I started in year 4 or 5 because I want to read over it and build on it! The thing is, it doesn’t really matter. Just keep practising and looking over your old work. Maybe if you’ve finished a story, wait at least a year or so then, keeping the original, rewrite it, edit it, do what you need to to make it fit your current style, or to correct grammar and punctuation errors, because I can almost guarantee that you will have them, no matter how much you think you don’t.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

At the moment, as it could change when I’m older and such, I identify as asexual, but I am not aromantic. I still haven’t figured out my romantic orientation, properly, but that doesn’t really matter.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

No, I haven’t. However, this could be due to the fact that aside from Tumblr and Quotev (my original platform) and about four people IRL, I haven’t really come out, as I’ve been hesitant about it, and I’m not really sure how people will react. The few people that I’ve come out to IRL have been really nice about it, and not made a big deal. I have to admit though, that I have a plan on coming out to my entire high school if a certain event I wish to partake in (public speaking) occurs before I leave, a term afore the other years. *Spoiler* If I do manage to, I’m doing a speech about asexuality, and will hopefully have a homemade flag to show people before I wrap it around my shoulders. As far as everyone that I haven’t come out to knows, I’m just a straight white girl.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Well, probably that asexual people don’t like sex, or don’t have sex. I know that this is true for possibly the majority of aces, but it’s also false for a certain percentage of aces. This has come from people that identify as bi/pan and do a subject that requires presentations on the LGBT+ community, though I’m not sure if any have included aces. As an eighteen year old female ace, I have never understood how sexual attraction works, or had a partner, romantic or otherwise aside from an occasional partner in science/chemistry. However, I have always been intrigued and curious about what the act of sex feels like, just never felt the attraction to anyone pertaining to it. Whenever I’ve heard this one, I stay quiet and just get silently annoyed/irritated/mildly mad, because I’ve learnt if I speak up about things that I’m interested in/passionate for, I tend to receive a lot of shit from people, and this is mostly to people I’ve known since year seven but haven’t come out to as I don’t really consider them friends.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Do your research, read the stories of other aces, watch videos on YouTube, whatever you need. I actually procrastinated for at least a year before I decided Yes, okay, I think I’ll identify as asexual now. It doesn’t matter how long you take to figure it out. Take your time, and remember that no-one other than you can tell you who you are or what your sexual orientation is, and don’t feel bad if it changes because sexuality is fluid. For example, here I am identifying as asexual, when for all I know, I could be demi-sexual or grey-asexual, but I haven’t explored anything that would let me know, so until anything changes, if it does, I identify as asexual.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

People can find out more about my work by looking me up on different platforms. My *main* email is crush.girl.101.at.high.school@gmail.com because I made it in year nine when I was seriously crushing on a guy. My Quotev, Wattpad, Deviantart, and YouTube are all under the name Morwenna Greenleaf, and I have a Facebook page by the name Morwenna Greenleaf, managed by my actual account, and you can message me through the page. I also, obviously, have Tumblr that people can feel free to message me on, and I have Instagram under my actual name, though, like YouTube, I don’t really post often (at jess_mccarten). In fact, you can message me on any of the sites, though there is a high chance that the majority of videos on my YouTube may have their comments turned off, due to fuckheads being, well, fuckheads. When it comes to any of them, I do requests for things, songs, stories, whatever. Feel free to request some things, because, while I procrastinate pretty much everything *Hello! Procrastinated my sexuality!*, if I enjoy the request, I will, eventually, get around to fulfilling the request, and, just feel free to talk to me. I can be really awkward, and drop a lot of terrible, terrible, puns, jokes, whatever the fuck I’m in the mood for, on you, and just be extremely weird in general. Live long and prosper, aces, and remember, Barty Crouch Jr stopped drinking because it was making him Moody! 😉

Thank you, Morwenna, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Chimney

Today we’re joined by Chimney. Chimney is a wonderful poet from Germany. He writes mostly for a hobby and his poetry tends to focus on emotions. Chimney mainly writes in German though he has translated some of his poetry into English. It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer and poet. I write a lot of poems about love and being heartbroken by love, but also other stuff. In my writings I concentrate a lot on the emotional side, like how the characters feel, why they feel that way. I want the reader to understand my characters and feel with them. I really want to have this transparency in my stories and poems.

My poems especially are very personal. And I try to throw as much emotions and pain as possible in them, that’s why it often hurts to read them, because their pure emotions.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by a lot of stuff, actually. Obviously I get inspired by real life experiences, but music is one of those things that inspires and influences me the most. When I listen to songs there are always popping up some lines and ideas in my head. But I also get inspired by other people or artist who achieved something in their life. Seeing them getting from bottom to almost the top inspires me and gives me the courage to try my best. And even if I don’t made it there will be always people who I can inspire and that’s it what keeps me going forward.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Honestly at first I hated writing poems, because I never was able to rhyme something good. So I first started with writing stories, because some guy in my class wrote a very funny story and I wanted to write something funny as well xD. But after finally starting to rite I realized how much fun this is to me. I love creating stories, telling  stories and share them with others. Being an artist was never my main goal. It was and unfortunately still is one of my greatest hobbies. But I really hope that it someday will be more than just this little hobby of mine.

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?

Not that I’m aware of. I try to change my still very often and I like to experiment a lot. Especially with my poems. I often change the metre and sometimes even use different languages.

But more like snippets or a few specific words. Other than that all I can say is that my writings are full of emotions.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say: “Have the courage to post your art online!“ Why? Because there will always be at least one person that will like it. Art is very important and it can help people, inspire people etc.

So it doesn’t matter how insecure you feel about your stuff, there will be people who supports you and by sharing it you can grow. Be open-minded accept critique and advice, so that you can grow.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as quoiromantic asexual. And I think more on the sex-repulsed side.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Yes I did, from one person actually. Who actually very radical and I don’t want to explain the details. They said horrible things to me. First I tried to have a real in-depth conversation with them about it, but after that didn’t worked I broke contact with them, because in the end it was better for my mental health.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

From what I’ve heard most people think that asexuality = anti-sexuality. Like that we’re all against sex and everything that has something to do with it. Which is just not right.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Seriously, the most important part is that you accept yourself how you are and that you understand that you’re fine, lovable and not broken by being asexual. The sexuality is just one small part of you and what really matters is your personality. I can understand that finding out that you’re ace can be frightening, but when someone really likes or loves, they will do it because of your personality, because you make them smile and give them a reason to stay strong.

You’re all valid.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

So for my German fellas you can always read my work right here: https://www.fanfiktion.de/u/Chimney

For the others I suggest you to follow me on my Tumblr where I’m planning on releasing little English poems and snippets: megahyperchickenwing.tumblr.com (yes, that is my name)

Thank you, Chimney, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Sierra

Today we’re joined by Sierra. Sierra is a phenomenal poet and dancer. She uses art as an outlet. When she’s not choreographing dances, Sierra enjoys writing poetry. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist with a great amount of enthusiasm, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a dancer and poet. I write or choreograph what I am feeling and use my art as an outlet for my emotions. I try to address issues and subjects many people deal with such as mental health, grief, etc. I think it is important for everyone to express themselves, and if my art can be used to help someone express themselves, I feel I have reached my goal.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by everything, but my main inspiration is people. When I see someone being purely themselves, I can see the art in them and want to be able to express that to others. I also get a lot of my inspiration from music of all kinds.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always loved the arts, specifically dancing. I grew up dancing and felt like it was the only thing I could relate to others through. As I got into high school I discovered a love for poetry and began to write. I have not published any of my work, but it is a goal I have for the future. Art has always been something very close to me.

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?

There isn’t anything special about my work. I just try to capture raw humanity and convey it to others.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love and don’t worry about what others think. You will grow into a uniquely beautiful artist no matter what you do. Not everyone will love your work, but if you reach just one person and help them feel something, you have done the best you can as an artist. Push yourself to your artistic limits and allow your creativity to flow freely.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic-asexual. I consider myself sex-repulsed and between romance-neutral and romance repulsed.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not specifically in my field have I encountered prejudice or ignorance, but in life in general I find a lot of ignorance. So many people can’t understand how something so engrained in their minds can be non-existent in ours, and therefore ridicule us for it. I think as long as you can stand tall and ignore that hate that comes towards you, you can be whoever you want to be. Anyone and everyone is valid.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I’ve found the most common misconception of asexuality is what it actually means and that it is different for everyone. Many people don’t understand asexuality and try to decide for themselves what it is. They then have an incorrect idea and/or opinion of asexual people which can be hard to change.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

If you embrace who you are, you will feel amazing. Its okay if you don’t know what that is yet, you will figure it all out in due time. If you don’t feel like coming out yet, then don’t. Just know that the ace community is such a loving family that is always looking for new members.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find out more about my work on my Tumblr, at poeticaceinspace. P.S. I’m pretty bad about keeping up with my blog but I’m trying to get better.

Thank you, Sierra, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Snig

Today we’re joined by Snig. Snig is a phenomenal poet who has recently come out as asexual. They write a lot of blank-verse poetry and most of it has to do with emotions. They have a book out titled Girl Behind Scars, which is definitely worth checking out. It’s clear they’re a passionate author with an admirable dedication, as you’ll see. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer/poet on WordPress.

A lot of my work is blank verse poetry usually relating to my emotional status at the time. But more so than often you can find me also ranting about some topic that has caught my eye, or just random thoughts that go along in my head. Ya, I’m pretty much all over the place when it comes to writing.

What inspires you?

To be honest, too many things inspire me. It can be a conversation I’ve had with someone, my mental illnesses, the people around me, a meme I saw online that made me feel a certain one. But I think at the crux of all of them is the fact that they evoked a raw, undeniable urge to write about them.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always written. Even as kid, penning my thoughts down on paper provided me with more clarity than anything else could have. So that’s where it all started I guess, a need for little me to understand the world around her, and so I would write down every perspective or thought I could about something that had caught my eye. If I couldn’t understand how I truly felt about someone or something, I’d write about them.

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 don’t think I have any unique signature, symbol or feature that I include in my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Art has very little to do with success and more to do with how it personally makes you feel and that’s what make someone a true artist. So no matter what art form you choose to pursue or do as a hobby, always keep it true to yourself and your perspective on life. Success will follow.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as panromantic asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

In my field? Not really, but that’s probably because my sexuality isn’t something that’s ever brought up in my discussion with people. However, I have encountered people in daily life that do think me identifying as an asexual, is just a typical “women” thing because apparently women aren’t sexual beings. A thought process which is just appalling.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it means we will never have sex or enjoy sex. Nah bruh, it just means I don’t have to deal with panties in a twist just from seeing someone particularly attractive.

Also people who confuse it with asexual reproduction and then say “oh so one day you’re just going to split into two”, not funny guys, not funny.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You aren’t broken. I know in the hyper sexualised world that we live in it can feel that way, but you aren’t broken. You are just as valid an orientation as someone who is gay or lesbian, and even though the LGBTQ+ community may sometimes also treat us as broken, there are many of us out there who exist and will always be willing to help you out. You are queer and you are here.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

As of now most of my work is on my WordPress blog, Semblance of Normality.
https://justanotherdepressedsoul.wordpress.com/

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But I’ve also had a poem be published in a collective anthropology called Girl Behind Scars
https://www.amazon.in/Girl-Behind-Scars-about-Writing/dp/B078WQJSDX.

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Thank you, Snig, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Amanda Sexton

Today we’re joined by Amanda Sexton. Amanda is a phenomenal visual artist who recently did a painting for the Haitian American Museum of Chicago (a fellow Chicagoan, who is also a feminist and fan of Myrna Loy. Insert squee here). When she’s not painting, Amanda enjoys dabbling in poetry and has written an epic surrealist poem in the past. It’s clear she’s an incredibly talented and very passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is all over the place really, as I only do it for a hobby. Last year I did have the privilege of working with the Haitian American Museum of Chicago. My piece represented the first black men in Chicago—first resident/founder [Chicago] from Haiti, first black mayor, first black president. Then I worked with the art gallery next door, Sustain, who wanted to make t-shirt designs from my painting. Lately, I’ve been working with watercolor, and really, I have no aspirations to be an artist, I do it for fun.

What inspires you?

I have a fair amount of inspirations, nature–trees, especially. History and politics, I have a degree in historical interpretation, and that has definitely played a role in my creative process—a  big influence on my poetry. Other artists also inspire me, film, paintings, music, literature. Dali, Jheronimus Bosch, John Bauer, Zdzisław Beksiński, Leonora Carrington, and Remedios Varo. You can see the influences in my 2017 Inktober set on my Tumblr. Music plays a big part as well, for the last few years Swedish synth pop has been my jam, my creating music, and my muse, like iamamiwhoami and the knife. I’ve also been working to musique concrète lately. Anything weird haha.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always been artistic. I’ve been drawing my whole life. Though I’m not a career artist, I try to incorporate my artistic nature in my field of work, which is archiving and curating. Working on exhibits taps into my creativity.

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?

No, I don’t think I have anything symbol or unique feature

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take the risk, because there could be a time that it works out! You’ll spend the rest of your time regretting it.

selfportrait
Self-Portrait

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a homoromantic asexual

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not in any fields I’ve worked in, but I don’t typically bring up my sexuality unless asked. I know I did have someone assume my sexuality at an art showing, and I revealed that I was asexual. I had the support of my director, who is mentor and stand in mom at the Haitian museum, which was nice.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it doesn’t exist, I haven’t met the right person, or I have a phobia. All untrue of course! I do want a relationship, just not a sexual one. I want to hold hands with a girl in an art museum and that’s about it. And I think that’s very sweet. Also, I wish allosexuals would stop asking asexuals questions that are very personal, especially involving sex, it’s rude to ask anyone.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t be afraid of not knowing where you are on the spectrum and not being afraid of changing if something fits better. Also, not feeling ashamed if you want to talk about your sexuality (you are valid!) But also don’t be ashamed if you have to hide who you are. I for the most part still live in the asexual closet, because of the prejudices I would face where I live.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My painting at the Haitian American Museum of Chicago can be found at : https://www.hamoc.org/product-page/first-black-chicago-commemorative-t-shirt

My other art is scattered on my Tumblr between a lot of asexual postings and Adventure Time references: https://iamamianarchivist.tumblr.com/

I also have a YouTube channel with some art pieces: https://www.youtube.com/user/AMsexton7

I have poetry as well, I haven’t put it on any kind of platform yet, but if anyone wants to drive into a 42 page epic, surrealism poem, PM me!

inktober panel
Inktober Panel

Thank you, Amanda, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: n.a.

Today we’re joined by n.a.. n.a. is a wonderful poet from Canada who publishes his work on his Tumblr blog. His poems play with language and use strong visuals. It’s clear he’s a talented and dedicated poet, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is poetry, so I guess you could say that I’m a poet – though I would never admit it in public. Currently I post one poem a day to my Tumblr blog, but I have hopes to publish a poetry collection in the future. There isn’t really any set theme of my poems and I’m a firm believer in subjectivity, so every poem means something different.

What inspires you?

This will sound cheesy, but everything inspires me. I would say music and books are what inspires me the most – I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up so, they became my friends at an early age and ever since then I think they’ve always been there to guide me as I progress with writing. Other aspec artists inspire me as well – especially Roanna Sylver whose books I’ve recently fallen in love with!!

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Yeah, I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even before I knew how hard writing actually is. I remember when I was younger I used to write little stories and poems that didn’t really make sense, but I found myself loving them and dreaming about what I would do if they were published. Reading sparked my interest a lot as well, I’ve always enjoyed analyzing characters and I think poetry has allowed me to do that a little bit.

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 don’t think I have one, unless my alias counts. I think having one would be super cool though, I just haven’t put much thought into one yet.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to create your art, even if you don’t think it’s good enough. Everyone starts somewhere and everyone lives a different life, but not everyone can create what you can.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual, I also like to describe myself as queer. I first found out about asexuality after an ex-boyfriend of mine came out to me, I had heard about asexuality before (from prior experience with queer Instagram pages), but didn’t know much about it. When I read up on it I realized that I was, and always had been, very aroace. Funnily enough, he broke up with me the day after I figured it out – for reasons that didn’t have anything to do with my recent discovery.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’m lucky enough to say that I haven’t had any encountered any ignorance based on my asexuality, but I have seen many people outside of the poetry community and on twitter get a fair bit of hatred. I’m very grateful that my friends outside the internet are accepting individuals and always let me know that I’m important and valid, even if I don’t always feel it.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

There are so many that I could talk about, but the one that bothers me the most is that asexuals are straight and don’t belong in the community. Being a trans asexual guy, I often don’t fall into that category because I am trans, but I know that if I wasn’t trans that I would probably be shunned from the community in the blink of an eye. Another misconception that I really hate is that asexuality is a medical or health issue, I think I hate this one specifically because it could lead to a misdiagnosis if an asexual person is accessing healthcare.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I believe the biggest advice I could give, and the advice I wish I had gotten, is that it’s 100% okay to be confused or unhappy about your orientation – just like it’s 100% okay to be content or happy with your orientation. If an asexual individual is feeling unhappy or just generally down about their asexuality I recommend they read some books or comics with asexual characters like themselves, it always helps me when I am feeling down and reaffirms that representation really is important!!

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

As of right now my work can only be viewed on my Tumblr, which is apollota.

Thank you, n.a., for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Sophie A Katz

Today we’re joined by Sophie A. Katz. Sophie is a phenomenal and versatile writer. She writes in a number of different forms and styles. She’s a fellow writer who enjoys writing hopeful stories (we need more of them! 🙂 ). It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Sophie Katz headshot

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

It’s all about stories for me – I LOVE stories, and storytelling. So far, my best skill to bring stories to life has been writing. I’ll write in pretty much any form; different stories need different mediums, after all. Some stories are short, some are novels. Some are screenplays or stage plays. I dabble in poetry. I have a few stories that sit in my head and insist upon being graphic novels – I’ll have to find someone who’s better with visual art to collaborate with for those.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me. That’s a vague answer. I have a “story ideas” tag on my Tumblr with hundreds of pictures and prompts in it, and I didn’t think that that was out of the ordinary until someone said to me, “Wow, you get story ideas from EVERYTHING!” But everything DOES have a story to it. You know that word “sonder”? About realizing that every other person in the world is living a life just as complex and interesting as your own? I can’t help but see that in everyone and everything around me. I don’t see things as just the way they are – I want to know why, and what might happen next. And that’s what a story is, at its base: why are things the way they are, and what could happen next?

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

There was this dollhouse in my parents’ house – I think it’s still in the basement – and incidentally we didn’t call it a “dollhouse” because Mom did NOT want her daughters playing with dolls; we called it a “people house,” like that Dr. Seuss book. I’d sit at the People House with all of our toys, all the animals and action figures and Disney characters, and narrate their adventures, for hours and hours. It was just what I did. Before I could write or read, I told the stories of my toys. And then one day, Dad took notes on the story I was telling, and typed it up for me. That’s where it really started. After that, I learned to read and write, and started writing little books, and Mom became my editor. But it took me until junior high to really start identifying as a writer. Before that, I honestly thought I was going to be an actress, even though I wasn’t very good at it, and didn’t really enjoy it. I think because the storytelling thing was just something I’d always done, I didn’t recognize it as special, or even as “art” at all – but it was always there, and eventually I recognized it as such, and now it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Things REALLY took off once I realized that Disney World had a writing internship…but if I start talking about THAT, then we’ll be here all day.

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?

That’s a really interesting question. When my big sister was looking at colleges, I started picking up literary journals from the schools we visited, and I started noticing a troubling pattern in the works published there: they were overwhelmingly sad. I concluded then that sadness must be the easiest emotion to evoke in a story, and the true challenge was to create something that made people happy.

Bad things do happen in the stories I write, but they very rarely end that way. Books and movies that end in hopelessness bother me. By all means, kill your darlings and send me to bed crying, but give me a reason to get up in the morning! This is a very roundabout way of answering that a feature I include in my work is hope. My stories are most often about people looking at the world and seeing not only the bad that is, but the good that could be, and working to make that good come to be. I think a lot of people perceive hope and optimism as naïve, and sadness and despair as true art. It’s fine to have that opinion, but I don’t subscribe to it. I see art in joy, and in the challenge of creating joy, and in taking on that challenge. I see art in hope.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You are not completely unique, and that is a good thing. It’s a good thing because it means that you have something to offer that will resonate with other people. You are not so different from the rest of the world that nobody will ever understand; rather, you have something to create that other people need. Create what is true to you, what is so true to you that it feels like no one else in the world may have ever felt the way that you feel about it. Create it and share it with the world. And someday, someone will walk up to you, and nervously shake your hand, and say, “That’s exactly how I feel. Thank you for turning it into art.”

Also, I highly recommend learning the skill of biting your tongue and saying “thank you, I’ll consider it” to critique. It’s not an easy skill to develop. Feedback is key to growth, and while you don’t have to TAKE all the feedback anyone ever gives you (you won’t take most of it, and that’s the way it should be!), it’s good to hear feedback. Feedback is how you learn what people are getting out of your art, whether your art is doing what you want it to do to the people you want it to do stuff to. I hope that sentence makes sense. I’d appreciate feedback on that sentence.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual, usually. Recently I’ve been feeling a bit more solidly ace; my body on occasion will send me a surprise bout of “nonononono” even when I’m with someone I am very much emotionally connected to.

I don’t even know what’s up with my romantic orientation. It’s like it plays “duck duck goose,” where it’ll go “duck duck duck…” over everyone around me for ages and then suddenly “GOOSE! YOU HAVE A CRUSH!!!”

I like things to make sense, so it’s all a bit frustrating for me, but I’m training myself to make peace with the uncertainty. Having words like “demisexual” and “asexual” and “sex-positive” and “sex-repulsed” to throw around helps some. I like having words for things.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Nothing’s been explicitly directed towards me, but romance is such a prevalent part of the stories we tell that I can’t help but be nervous. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to write a love story that someone will want to read, because I can’t know what it’s like to be the allosexual people that mainstream romances are about. I’m nervous that putting ace people in my stories, or being frank about demisexuality, will bring more trouble down on me than good. But this is my life, this is my truth, and these are the stories that I wish, oh god do I wish, that I had had when I thought that I was broken. How could I not write that? But I’m nervous, so how CAN I write that?

Fortunately, I found an incredibly supportive feminist arts community at my university, and I felt safe enough there to read a piece about figuring out my sexuality at an open mic. After the show, an audience member came up to me and thanked me, because what I had read was exactly how it was for them figuring out their sexuality. That’s when it hit me that however nervous I was, I couldn’t let that get in the way of creating my art. People need to know that they’re not alone. And coming up against ninety-nine readers who think I’m some faker special snowflake is worth it if I can get to the hundredth reader who needs to hear that they’re not alone.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it doesn’t exist.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

…Honestly, I wish someone had advice to give ME, because I struggle with it plenty. What I do know to remind myself of as much as I can is this: your sexuality does NOT make you a burden, and anyone who makes you feel like it is can walk the plank.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I have an electronic portfolio at https://sophieakatz.wordpress.com/, and I’ve just begun a writing Tumblr in an attempt to self-promote – you can find that at https://sophieakatz.tumblr.com/. Go ahead and send me a message there if you want to chat about anything! Or you could contact me at http://ohthewhomanity.tumblr.com/; that’s the blog where I use the “story ideas” tag. You can also find my Odyssey articles every week at https://www.theodysseyonline.com/user/@sophiekatz.

Thank you, Sophie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.