Friday, February 26, 2021

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Taryn Hubbard

Taryn Hubbard’s poetry, fiction, reviews, and interviews have been included in journals such as Canadian Literature, Room magazine, The Capilano Review, Canadian Woman Studies, CV2, filling Station, carte blanche, subTerrain, and others. She holds a BA in English and Communications from Simon Fraser University, a certificate in journalism from Langara College, and a diploma in Adult Education and Teaching. Hubbard lives, writes and teaches in Maple Ridge where she is the current Artist-in-Residence at the Port Haney House in Maple Ridge with her partner Aaron Moran. Her first book, Desire Path, debuted from Talonbooks in September 2020. Find out more at

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

Desire Path is my first full-length published book. So far, it’s changed my life in the simple sense that I was able to work with a publisher who supported my writing. I’m also feeling ready to move on from the concepts I explored in this book to the next project freely and clearly now that this collection has been published.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?

I’ve always written poetry and fiction concurrently. I focused on a manuscript of poetry first because the early pieces I wrote held their relevance to me much better than my early short stories so it felt more natural to collect those into a manuscript. Writing fiction has taken more practice.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

Often, the first draft of something will come together quickly. Then I let it sit and I get some needed space from it before reapproaching it again for editing. The editing process takes much, much longer for me. Sometimes years.

4 - Where does a poem or work of fiction usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?

I work on smaller pieces that I realized one day fit together. I like this approach better than working on a “book” right from the beginning. This way I’m able to explore different avenues of what I’m thinking without having to worry about how it fits together with what else I’ve written from the get-go. Right now, I’m working on a novel and that’s a whole other process, but for my poetry book and my short story manuscript, those came together as pieces written over multiple years.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

Sometimes after a reading I feel encouraged to keep going and/or inspired by the other readers who performed with me, but I wouldn’t say it’s a huge part of my interest as a writer. I’m always honoured to be invited to read but, in general, it doesn’t fuel me creatively.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

In a lot of my work, I’m concerned with millennials, the Great Recession, work/labour and suburban space. No matter what, these ideas keep popping up in my work.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?

Writers have a significant role in our larger culture, from exploring contemporary issues to just plain entertainment. There is something special and important about reading a really good story or poem that brings the reader somewhere new. Writing is about communicating an experience or an idea in a way that draws the reader in.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

I see working with an outside editor as an opportunity to understand my writing through a new lens, to get important feedback, and to learn more about thinking through an entire book from start to finish. This is essential.  

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

I’ve always liked the advice to write what you want to read. For me, that means exploring the ideas I’m interested in and attempting to offer something from my own perspective.

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to fiction to reviews)? What do you see as the appeal?

Often, I’ll focus on one genre for a fair amount of time before switching to another genre. I’m not a writer who works on a short story and poetry at the same time. These days, I often switch between writing the first draft of my novel and editing my short story collection. It’s nice to have something else to work on when I need a break from one thing, though I try to keep focused as I don’t have a lot of time in the week for writing.

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?

The key for me is trying to wake up earlier than my toddler! I’m a morning writer and most productive first thing after I wake up when I can focus just on the words in front of me and the house is quiet. I’m a believer in utilizing the time I have, whether it’s an hour or even less some days. Over the years, I’ve become dedicated to my routine and it’s amazing how quickly writing will accumulate with consistency by sticking to a plan. If I don’t feel like writing one morning, I’ll look at administrative tasks like updating my website or submitting to journals as a way to keep the momentum going.

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?

A walk outside for some fresh air, some good music, a nice cup of coffee. I might go to the library to discover a new author.

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?

I do like my essential oil infuser. Eucalyptus, lavender, sage.

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?

I’m with McFadden on this one. I’m most inspired by reading other writing.

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?

Chris Kraus, Lorrie Moore, Meg Wolitzer, Miriam Toews, Harryette Mullen, Elizabeth Strout, Juliana Spahr, Marie Annharte Baker.

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?

Publishing my first book in the middle (beginning? never ending?) of a global pandemic has shifted my perspectives on things but I still would like to travel more—when it’s safe to do so.

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?

Some days I really do wonder why I bother writing these manuscripts, but then I realize I really do enjoy it. It’s amazing what can happen with a little planning and a lot of focus. I work full-time and writing is something I fit in alongside everything else. I can’t imagine not having something like writing to do and I like how portable it is. When we were able to linger in public, I used to like writing in cafes, libraries, and mall food courts.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?

I was first drawn to writing as a kid because I liked theatre and I used to write these page-long monologues. It’s funny to think about that now. I tried painting as a teenager but that didn’t work out well. I was interested in photography for a spell. What I’ve realized is that, for me, with my time crunch, it’s important to stick to what I like the most and that’s writing.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

Last book I read was Stephen King’s Elevation. I was brushing up on novellas in preparation for the 3 Day Novel Writing Contest, which I took part in this past Labour Day weekend. The contest was a lot of fun and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for some ridiculous daily word count goals. Now I’m reading Meg Wolitzer’s The Ten Year Nap. Up next is Want by Barbara Langhorst, it just sounded so good.

20 - What are you currently working on?

I’m currently editing my first short story collection, which centres around friendship, labour and technology, as well as working on a full-length novel.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

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