Read part one here.
Read part two here.
Read part three here.
Airship Ambassador: Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
Dominik Parisien: When I started writing I had a very difficult time drafting a story. I had to write the perfect story the first time around, and if I felt as though it wasn’t as good as it ought to be, then I quit. Naturally, that resulted in a LOT of abandoned stories. I was constantly frustrated with myself and my work. Now I find it motivating to simply write down words. They don’t need to be the right words, so long as they get me thinking. I also find writing on paper quite motivating sometimes. It’s so easy to erase words in a word processor, to decide that, no, you don’t like that particular sentence, so you delete it. Staring at a blinking cursor can also be frustrating. I find that writing on paper activates a different part of my brain, and that seeing multiple physical pages fill up is rewarding to me in a way that filling pages on a computer isn’t. The simple act of turning pages and having physical proof of what I’ve written down has a direct positive effect on me. It isn’t so much that I need to write longhand, but I find that changing mediums sometimes can help my mind shift gears.
AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?
DP: If not for editing and writing, I would have gone into teaching. My father was a teacher and my sister also teaches, and I’ve always enjoyed working with children and young adults and teaching.
AA: Most of the authors I’ve talked with have some type of day job and that writing is their other job. What has that situation been for you and how has it helped/hindered being a published writer?
DP: I’m actually a full-time freelance editor, and, for me, that both helps and hinders writing. I actually prefer working on the stories of other writers over my own, so it can be quite easy to neglect my stories, especially because I often get my creative fix through editing. However, the constant exposure to other tales and my awareness of forthcoming projects and submission calls occasionally tickles my brain in just the right way and drives me to write.
AA: Looking beyond steampunk, writing and working, what other interests fill your time?
DP: Reading, certainly, but that’s no real surprise. I love snowshoeing and I do it as much as possible. I also walk a great deal, especially in trails in the woods. I like having time to myself out in nature, but I also love spending time with friends and loved ones playing board games and cards. I’m also increasingly enjoying cooking for myself and others.
AA: How do those interests influence your work?
DP: I really enjoy walking by rivers and bodies of water, and those images tend to creep into my writing. I find walking/snowshoeing on frozen rivers particularly inspiring and I do a lot of brainstorming during those times. I do most of my thinking regarding editing and writing while out on walks.
AA: There’s only so much time in a day – what interests don’t you have time for?
DP: Sign language. A good friend of mine recently started teaching me how to sign, and I wish we had more time to practice.
AA: What other fandoms are you part of (as a fan or participant)?
DP: I have many interests, but I don’t actively participate in much of fandom other than the genre community where I attend literary conferences. I do geek out a good deal with friends about certain subjects though, like Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, Magic: The Gathering, and cinema in general.
AA: Are there people you consider an inspiration, role model, or other motivating influence?
DP: Certainly. My mentor and friend, Ann VanderMeer, is a great source of inspiration. She and her husband Jeff are two incredibly talented people, and participating in their projects and reading those same projects always fires up my imagination and motivates me to do better in my own work.
Similarly, my family is a constant source of inspiration and motivation. My parents and my sister are kind people dedicated to each other and others, and I keep hoping that I can also impart some of that positivity to others around me.
Finally, many of my friends in the writing and editing community are so talented, so motivated that I can’t help but find them inspiring. The list would be absurdly long if I named everyone, but some people in particular always manage to inspire me, like Derek Newman-Stille, Mike Allen, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Amal El-Mohtar, Kelsi Morris and Kaitlin Tremblay, and my frequent collaborator, Navah Wolfe.
AA: What event or situation has had the most positive impact in your life? What has been your greatest challenge?
DP: Both professionally and personally, I’d say my decision to finally start attending literary conventions has had one of the most positive impacts on my life. At first I was content to work in the background and not participate directly in the community, so I didn’t go to cons and I wasn’t very active online. After a few years, I attended a conference, and then another, and the people I met not only became my colleagues but in many cases some of my best friends. I really found my people at cons, and so many of them are now a huge part of my life in ways that go far beyond writing and editing.
The greatest challenge has definitely been my health. I have a complicated medical condition which involves chronic daily pain and severe insomnia, in addition to other things. This has directly impacted my everyday life and what I’m able to accomplish ever since I was quite young. I keep a positive attitude and I haven’t let it control my life, but it has certainly created a number of difficulties and challenges.
AA: Three quick-fire random questions – what is your favorite sandwich, fictional character, and Canadian actor/performer?
DP: Turkey, avocado, and goat cheese! The faun from Pan’s Labyrinth! Loreena McKennitt!
AA: Any final thoughts to share with our readers
Thanks, Dominik, for joining us for this interview and for sharing all of your thoughts. We look forward to hearing about your next projects!
You can support Dominik and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.