Rachel Brent

Major(s), Concentration(s): Interactive Media
Year at Elon: Graduate student

1. Other than class assignments, what kinds of things do you write or have you written?
Professionally, I have written for a wide range of outlets and audiences; everything from newspaper articles to legal summaries to press releases. Personally, I have produced mostly short stories and poetry.

2. What piece of writing are you most proud of?
When some classmates convinced me to submit a short story and a poem to the University of Georgia literature magazine, I didn’t expect to get published at all. If they picked anything, I was sure they would choose the short story. Needless to say I was very surprised and proud when they picked the poem to open the magazine that year.

3. Where is your favorite place to write?
My favorite place to write is curled up in the corner of the couch. However, some of my best writing has been scrawled on the back of receipts in my car.

4. Do you have any interesting quirks and/or routines you follow when writing or when you are preparing to write? What are they?
I tend to mumble when I write. The more I hear what I'm writing, the easier it is to make sure things flow the way they need to. Once I get the initial piece down, I take a hard copy into a room with good acoustics like the bathroom or the kitchen and read it out loud. It distorts the sound of my voice enough that I can pretty easily catch anything that doesn’t transition smoothly. Anything that I stumble over gets rewritten. I do this especially when I have to write any kind of dialogue.

5. Who is your favorite writer? Why?
I love Christopher Moore. It's very hard to write accessible absurdist fiction and he does it so well. All but two of his thirteen novels exist in the same universe, and cover everything from the missing years of Christ to robotic whales. He also balances fantastical plots with relatable characters. Finally, even great writers struggle with writing in distinct, believable voices and that is something Moore definitely has a knack for.

6. What was the best writing experience of your life?
I think my best writing experience actually stemmed from my worst. Sometimes you just need to write very bad, angst-ridden, cathartic poetry and get that out of your system so you can explore your thoughts in a more graceful way.

7. What would you most like to improve about your writing?
I’m generally satisfied with the mechanics of my writing. What I would really like to do is produce a greater volume of creative work.

8. What advice do you have for other Elon writers?
Learn all the technical rules—then you’ll know which ones you can throw out. Respect the time of your reader. This is especially true in a peer review setting. Ask for critiques often and be prepared to revise.