A Writer’s Habits: Benjamin Soloway

What type of writing do you do?
All writing is creative, so I do creative writing. I enjoy nonfiction/journalism, academic essays, and short stories. I just finished writing a TV pilot for one of Amy Bloom’s courses.

Where is your favorite place to write?
I like to move around every few hours. I do not like silent places. I care less about “where” than I do about “when.” My favorite time to write is late at night, which actually means early in the morning.

What’s the first thing you wrote that you can remember?
“The king is in the casl.”

How early did you begin writing?
I began writing in kindergarten when I wrote my first sentence: “The king is in the casl.” I didn’t manage to write another until first grade.

Where did you find your subjects?
Now or then? When I was younger, I was quite oblivious, and I was only vaguely aware that the middle ages had ended and given way to a less feudal, more populous modern age. So I mostly thought about castles and knights, and my writing reflected this worldview.
Now, I mostly write about interesting people and the interesting things that people do.

What’s the best thing you’ve read recently?
A Universal History of Infamy by Borges.

What writers have influenced you?
Roy Gerrard, the author of Sir Cedric, the greatest of all children’s books. The mysterious “Pearl Poet,” who wrote “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” John Brandon, who wrote Arkansas and Citrus County. Cliff Chase, Paula Sharp, Jane Eisner, and Amy Bloom, my writing professors at Wesleyan. Denis Johnson and Michael Cunningham. Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Edward Lear. I love Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, The Boat by Nam Le, and a great many other books besides.

When you start writing, do you start with a complete story in mind or do you pursue an idea and see where it takes you?
Either, neither, or both. Generally, I like to have an outline.

How do you know when you’ve reached the end of a piece?
When the deadline arrives.

How much do you consider the reader when you write?
How much I consider the reader depends entirely upon what I’m writing. If I’m writing to amuse myself, then I only think about myself. If I’m writing an essay that will be graded, I think about what the professor wants. If I am writing an article for a newspaper or website, I definitely have the reader in mind.

Is there a particular person who you share your early drafts with?
If I’m lucky enough to have an early draft, I’ll usually share it with one of four esteemed individuals: Daniel Nass, Amy Block, Piers George Crampton Gelly, or Ali Ellerbeck.

What has your favorite writing class at Wes been?
Ford Seminar.

Are you involved in any writing groups or events?
Yes: The Argus and the Writing Workshop.

Do you hope to pursue writing in the future? How?
I will always write, no matter what. I hope to pursue writing and editing in some professional capacity.

Benjamin Soloway is a sophomore English and History double major also pursuing the Writing Certificate. A Writer’s Habits is a series of interviews with student writers on campus.

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