We offer this exclusive Q&A Interview with Brad Osborne, Author of the Year of 2021, a writer whose multiple literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages, as well as previously being Author of the Month of March 2021.
What was an early experience where you learned that language and writing had power?
I grew up in a house filled with books. At an early age, I found the spark of adventure woven into the stories and backdrops of places around the world that lie within those pages. I was amazed at the ability for language and the written word to transport me to places I had never been, to connect me to people I had never met, and evoke emotions borne solely in the imagination. I do not think there is anything more powerful than language.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Editorializing or storytelling can energize me. It is a time when I am either congealing conceptualized thought or fondly remembering moments in my own past. Both of which leave me with more than what I brought to the table to start with. Poetry, however, I find can be exhausting, both mentally and metaphorically. For me, poetry is the release. The sheer exhaustion of the emotional. I spew out the more existential accumulations of the day to make more room for being in the given moment. One leaves a finished picture, and one wipes the slate clean.
How many hours a day do you write? And in a perfect world how many hours would you like to dedicate to writing?
Like most writers who rely on a day job to pay the bills, I am lucky to write for a couple of hours each day. And like most, maybe a bit more on the weekend. But I think I am luckier than most with the time I am afforded. Many would love to have two hours a day. Now, let’s talk about this perfect world of yours. In that world, I would be financially independent and would devote the majority of my time to writing. Hopefully, the quantity of time I could devote would allow me to distill my words and offer something more refined and purer. Plus, there is still a ton of styles, genres, and subjects I am dying to try my hand at. All I need is time.
Does ego help or hurt writers?
Having an ego is a real benefit to a writer. First, you must be your own strongest advocate. You cannot allow self-doubt to impede your journey to becoming the great writer you are. Second, becoming published is a matter of great self-promotion. You must constantly hock your wares to would be publishers repeatedly touting your achievements thus far in the hopes they may be impressed. Blowing your own horn well helps. Lastly, you are going to face some criticism, some haters. Your self-worth must be solid. Your writing will not be for everyone, and it shouldn’t be.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
The only thing that impedes my ability or desire to write is that little bit of self-doubt I think all writers share. Or maybe I hope we all share. I sometimes wonder about the purpose of my writing, or where I hope it will lead. When I am able to push those questions aside, I feel I have the space to flourish. But if I allow myself to ponder some greater purpose or some goal line to be crossed, it can still be the pen at times. I try to stay in the now and focus on expressing myself. Let the fates be what they may.
Do you summon your muse or does it come naturally?
With non-poetic writing, I can often summon my muse by simply being in the right circumstances to listen, Comfortable, undistracted, and clear-minded. I create a space and more often than not, she finds her way there. For poetry, at least for me, my muse does not heed beck and call. I think it is much more natural. It derives from the more emotional. From the heart, which chooses to whisper things of importance. Although creating the appropriate space to receive my muse is important for both, poetry requires I listen more than talk.
Is the support of your friends and family important to your writing process?
The support of my friends and family is not important to my writing process, it is vital to my writing process. They are the people who push me past the moments of self-doubt and constantly remind me that I am so much more than just the words I leave behind. They help me to find myself and stay in the present. They hold me to a greater standard, for they don’t require me to be a great writer, just a good person.
Do you ever Google yourself?
I have. Sadly, there is a director, a musical artist, and various other more important people with the same name, so just Googling my name is less than ego boosting. However, thanks largely to all the work of Dagmara and her staff here at Spillwords Press, if you add “poetry” to that search, I own the broadband. I am not sure that made me feel at all like I had “made it” somehow, but it is quite convenient. Now, in a conversation with someone, when they ask where they can read my work, I can just suggest they google me rather than try and remember an overly long website address for my blog.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?
First, read other writer’s works. I have never learned or been inspired more than when lost in someone else’s words. Secondly, be devoted to learning your craft. For non-poetic work, learn syntax, grammar, and punctuation. For poets, understand the rhythm of meter, the music in rhyme, and the beauty of metaphor. Knowing the fundamentals of language can only enhance your ability to create and express. In both, expand your vocabulary. Lastly, be yourself, unabashedly and unashamed. There are many like you who don’t have your voice. Use it to be authentically who you are, and I promise you will connect with people in the most wonderful way.
What does it mean to you to be the Spillwords Press Author Of The Year 2021?
First, let me say that it is a great honor, though any one of the other wonderful writers nominated is just as deserving. I applaud all of the nominees for their absolute mastery of the craft. I also want to thank all the staff at Spillwords Press for making things like this happen simply because they can. They seek to promote our art, not profit from it. They offer so many artists a platform and a community where they can be supported by other creative and diverse people. The fact that this award is given by the readers makes this special for me. It validates all the time and effort that I have devoted to my writing. It helps answer that nagging question of “Am I good enough?” But most of all, it means that I must give back the time and the tithe of uplifting other voices just as generously as you have lifted mine. I thank you most sincerely for this recognition and all the readers for the love and support.
MARCH 2021 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH / 2021 AUTHOR OF THE YEAR at Spillwords.com
The author is American-born but world-travelled. His writings cover fiction and non-fiction, and cross most genres. Although his experiences and shared thoughts are not always unique, it is his hope that his words will bring comfort, joy, or insight to his readers.