Welcome to StoriesEtc, a place where University of Wisconsin students can share their original works of creative writing with the community, whether it be poetry, short stories or anything in between. As a section dealing with the arts, it feels only natural to create an opportunity for students to share their creative talents.

With that being said, let’s meet this week’s contributor, and The Badger Herald’s ArtsEtc. Editor: Kristin Washagan.

The Badger Herald: Tell us about yourself. What’s your major? Year in school?

I am a sophomore at UW studying journalism and mass communication, and pursuing a certificate in gender and women’s studies as well. This is my first semester as the ArtsEtc. editor, but I’ve been writing for The Badger Herald for three semesters.

Other than writing, I also love singing, attending cool art shows and gigs and caring for my loving rescue kitten, Juno.

BH: Define your writing, authorship and perspective.

Because of my major, I mostly write articles and concise pieces in AP style. While poetry was the first reason I fell in love with writing, I’m currently more comfortable and fond of journalistic writing. Something about sitting down and speaking with someone about their life’s work, inspirations and goals for the future of their work is so inspiring. I love interviewing subjects and receiving the unique privilege to tell their stories.

I also suppose I like journalistic writing because it’s more objective, and I don’t have to hone into my own feelings and thoughts. While writing about your own experiences is incredibly rewarding in many ways, it can also be extremely difficult and emotionally tolling.

In my fiction writing, I tend to focus on mostly female characters. I like using my own experiences to explore themes of womanhood, gender presentation, adversity, sexuality and trauma.

I rarely have the time or creative energy to write poetry much anymore, but I still read poetry books regularly when I have free time (as if that ever happens). My favorite poetry books are probably “Love & Misadventure” by Lang Leav, or “Book of Longing” by Leonard Cohen (who is also one of my favorite lyricists and musicians of all time).

I still love poetry and prose, though, and try to write creatively whenever I get an opportunity. While it is rare for me, I love using creative writing as a means to center or ground myself, and to check in with my emotions. Nothing works quite like writing your feelings does.

BH: When did you start writing creatively?

I fell in love with creative writing in grade three, when my teacher set up a “Writer’s Workshop” portion of our classroom. At certain times in the day, she would encourage us to create and write our own books. Once we were finished, the teacher added the books to a special bookshelf in our classroom, and everyone got a chance to read each others’ work.

While most of the books were silly, poorly written and consisting of mostly illustrations, the Writer’s Workshop gave us each a chance to create stories from our own imaginations.

I wrote about math-genius mice, children with super powers and softball games. It was something fun and brand new, and I was immediately hooked. It really taught me a love of storytelling that I carry to this day.

BH: Talk about your creative process. What inspires you, and how do you get from an idea to a finished product?

When dealing with hardships in my life, I always turned to writing as a way to process and cope. In my writing, I tended to reflect on my personal experiences. I’m not sure if sadness can count as an “inspiration” per se, but I’m most eager to write something creative when I’m going through difficult times. It helps me process my emotions in a way that is constructive, but also meditative.

On the flip side, sometimes I’m just so struck by all of the beauty that surrounds me, I feel the need to write down every detail of that emotion so I never forget it. If I see a particular flower, an exchange on the street or something that just reminds me of love and compassion, I just want to write about it.

Here is a sample of Kristin’s work:

“Deflated”

Listening to the sound of

A man playing a drum

Outside my bedroom window

Open wide, to let out my smoke

And to let in fresh autumn air

 

The air is chilly,

I pull down the rolled sleeves of my sweater

I gently lay my palm over the candle near my bed

And appreciate the warmth

 

My eyes feel heavy as I hear the sound

Of a train in the distance

I make a mental note to start a pot of coffee before dinner

I feel fine.

 

The man with the drum continues tapping

Until the tapping no longer sounds like music

Just noise

And at once, it all feels so temporary.

 

There are flowers that bloom in autumn,

And exist despite impending frost.

I look down, at nothing in particular,

And come to the understanding that I may not be one of those flowers.

 

I tried poetry, and lavender

Deep breaths, and counting sheep

But nothing will help

Make time stop, and allow me to sleep.

 

Despite the heaviness in my head,

I feel a sense of calm.

I take an aspirin

And look outside my window.

 

There are so many voices and sounds

Pouring through my open window over State Street

A sonata of patterns of life

And I listen, alone