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 new ArtsEtc. associate, Jill Kazlow:

Tell us about yourself. What’s your major?

I’m currently a sophomore and the new associate ArtsEtc editor! I’m intending to major in Journalism. I love to write, read and listen to music. You know, typical nerd stuff. I also really enjoy boxing, so don’t make fun of me for being a nerd unless you’re willing to square up.

Define your writing, authorship, and perspective.

I’ve always enjoyed writing since I could remember. I just love being able to create my own little world in creative writing and adding my own edge to other types of writing. I am really into satire, symbolism and irony. I find it very entertaining and interesting when a different author can pull it off very well, so I try to incorporate that into some of my work somehow. My style really depends on my mood and idea. Sometimes I write a more plot-based story, while other times my work is more character based. It really depends.

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

Movies, television, and other pieces of writing definitely inspire me, however, I just get into what I consider a “creative mood” where I feel the need to write something down. The only problem is, this can become very inconvenient if it happens mid studying or when I should be focusing on something else more important. It can happen really anywhere, but especially when I’m traveling on a plane and have my phone on airplane mode. That’s when I really have room to dream and jam out to music (preferably Bryson Tiller’s Trapsoul album for some reason is my plane music of choice).  

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When my head’s literally “in the clouds” is when I finally feel as if I have my own free space to create. I jot down poems and short story ideas in my notes on my phone due to how nonchalant and lowkey the nature of that is. I can get from an idea to a finished product just by being in that creative mood/mindset. The more creative and motivated I’m feeling, the more likely I’ll get something done. Also, if I can’t fall asleep or have already been awake very late, then my brain just accesses its creative side way easier. Yet, it’s hard to tell if my 2 a.m. ideas are pure genius or completely bogus.

Here is a sample of Jill’s work:

“Lucid Dreaming?”

You’re sitting on the couch because the kids you’re babysitting finally went to sleep, supposedly. The parents said they’d be home around eleven. It’s only nine. However, you’ve had such a long day of school and practice that you’re already exhausted. You feel yourself drifting off…

Now you’re suddenly in the middle of the woods in a dream, supposedly. The sky is striped with streaky grey clouds. The brisk air fills your lungs, but your body is too numb to shiver. Chills don’t occur in dreams.

It’s fairly dark. And now you hear something. A chilling whisper. Or maybe a whimper. It follows you, but you let it. You keep clenching your fists, first right then left. So much so that it should hurt, but you cannot feel pain in dreams. Dreams never hurt anybody.

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It sounds as if someone is viciously hacking away at tree bark. It startles you and so you run. You trip over a dead tree limb and it feels as if you are falling forever. The screeches of crickets and other night animals surround you and amplify. The sounds consume your very being. You feel as if you are floating in a cold dark galaxy. You cannot see the trees or branches anymore. Everything is black.

Until you hear a loud screech. Your body starts to jolt itself awake. You open your eyes. You’re not on the couch anymore.

Perhaps, maybe your dream isn’t over quite yet as you look up and see the sky through the tree canopy, but it is now daytime. There is mud all over you. You think. But it’s not brown. The kids are not in bed anymore. No bark was axed. The limb did not fall from the tree.