Sydney Brooman Talks About Writing
Two literature-loving students chose Western University on a whim and jumped head first into English and Creative Writing. After having a few classes in common, they ended up working together as Editorial Assistants at the Canadian Poetry Press. Coming face to face for the first time, they were able to introduce themselves to one another. These students were myself and Sydney Brooman.
Brooman is this year’s Writer-in-Residence at Western University. She has published a few pieces in Occasus. She/they continuously expands her/their writing skills while helping other students expand their craft. Inspired by my peer, I approached Brooman to talk to her/their more about how she came to be the Writer in Residence and other questions about writing.
No Other Choice
BRIANNA BENTON: Why did you decide to pursue a Bachelor of Arts: Honors Specialization in English Language & Literature and Creative Writing?
YDNEY BROOMAN: I originally thought that I was going to do my Undergraduate degree in English Literature & Criminology. I’ve been writing fiction and creating stories for as long as I’ve been speaking and interacting with the world around me, but I was afraid to go to school for Creative Writing for two reasons:
I thought that learning creative writing in a standardized way would potentially dull my creativity.
Though I’ve only ever wanted to be a Writer, I thought that taking Criminology would make it seem as though I was more traditionally "career oriented", as writing is often looked at as a hobby.
I applied to the program at Western on a whim because I needed a third school, having never even heard of the program before. Even after I had accepted my offer of admission, I still knew very little about the program and what it entailed, but I knew that I was headed in the direction that I needed to be.
Looking back now, there was never any other choice. This program has helped developed my writing skills in such an incredibly noticeable way, and I could never imagine taking any other program at any other school.
BB: What do you plan to do after you graduate from Western University in April 2018?
SB: After I graduate from Western University in 2018, I’ll hopefully be going to graduate school for an MFA in Creative Writing (fingers crossed for those offers of admission!) at either The University of British Columbia, The University of Toronto, or The University of Guelph (Humber Campus). All of the programs would offer me a lot of publishing opportunities and mentorship with established professionals, so I’m excited to see my writing reach its new level of potential.
BB: Why did you want to become Western's Student Writer in Residence?
SB: I wanted to become Western’s Student Writer-in-Residence because I’ve always loved the idea of collaboration and mentorship when it comes to creative writing projects, and I wanted to be that kind of resource to students of all faculties and programs. Whether it’s proofreading or simply brainstorming, getting someone to read your work is extremely important, and since everyone in University is so busy, there often aren’t a lot of options as to who you can bring your creative work to when it needs to be work-shopped or talked about. I definitely would have benefitted from having this resource in my first year.
BB: What does the Student Writer in Residence position entail? What’s been the most memorable experience so far?
SB: The Student Writer-in-Residence position entails looking at student’s creative work and offering structural suggestions, proofreading, and talking through ideas. At the same time, I also run events like a monthly Literary Salon and a Children’s Publishing Initiative, so the position also requires me to connect writers at the University with the Arts community in London.
My most memorable experience thus far has been having the opportunity to give a joint reading/lecture in Professor Aaron Schneider’s “Write Now!” speaker series course alongside established playwright Daniel MacIvor. Answering questions with Daniel really made me feel as though I was “real” writer, and it was incredibly valuable practice for the professional world!
BB: You currently have a wide variety of genres published. What is your preferred genre(s) to write in?
SB: My preferred genre honestly depends on the time of year. I’m currently in quite a groove with short fiction and creative non-fiction, but about six months ago I was writing nothing but poetry. Overall, I think short fiction has to be my favourite.
BB: What is your favourite published work? What was the inspiration for this piece?
SB: My favourite piece of published work is also my first piece of published work: a flash fiction piece called “Giraffes Don’t Like the Cold”. It’s about a twenty-year-old estranged from his family who lets his ten-year-old brother plan their mother’s funeral. I’ve always loved to write about children, particularly to use their perspectives through twisted circumstances, so the piece really just started off as a bit of children’s dialogue about giraffes and flourished from there.
BB: What advice do you have for new writers that are looking to get published?
SB: I have two pieces of advice for new writers looking to get published:
Always seek out opportunities that you are afraid of. I never used to submit to journals because I was afraid that my work wouldn’t be submitted, but unsubmitted work will never get published. Take chances when applying for positions and accepting work, and sometimes the universe surprises you.
No matter what stage of your writing career you are at, you can always get to the point of producing publishable work if you continue to write. A lot of people stop writing because they think they aren’t good enough to write professionally, but you have to write clichés before you can not write clichés. Write and read so much that you almost become sick of words—then read and write some more.