Sascha A. Akhtar, facilitator, poet and fiction writer, talks about her processes and life as a mum.
Sascha A. Akhtar is a solo parent and the author of a collection of novellas + a long 'short' and 6 poetry collections. She also works as a Poetry School London Tutor and poetry mentor. She has been at it for 20 years. Her daughter is now 8 years old. After a spell of being completely unable to do anything writing related, in the first year her L.O. went to school she managed to do the groundwork to get five books published. Sascha also created a course for the Literary Consultancy to help writers work through writer's block under the Being A Writer umbrella.
Of Necessity And Wanting - Fiction
Astra Inclinant - Poetry
How I Write A Poem - Article
Who and what inspires you?
I find myself inspired by paintings often. Yesterday, I felt inspired by an author's photo. Their confidence gave me hope. Human behaviour inspires me too. Especially since I spent most of my life surrounded by people who behaved cruelly. I also find animal behaviour fascinating. I'm pretty sure that my first story that was published was about two dogs at the seaside.
How do you find time to write as a parent?
What I learnt from those early years when I had a baby 24/7 with no respite was to identify that the idea that I needed a special place and time was erroneous. At least for me, at that time & in that space. What ended up happening in conjunction with my meditation teacher training was an identification of those moments between moments. In poetry we talk of the liminal space. In meditation we talk of this same space, in a different context. Same is true for life with children. 10 minutes of intense focus where you get all you need to out in a mad frenzy is better than 30 minutes of lo-focus writing. Now the writing begins in my head, I allow if to develop & then when I am able ( now she is older it is somewhat 'easier') I put it all down. In the last few years, I have got it down to a 3 day system. So for big projects, I do parts here & parts there but when it comes down to the final push, I can now tell her father that I have to have three days (& nights) uninterrupted. Because he refuses to take her to his place ( it's too small), I leave. I set up a desk in a hotel & those three days are how the finished product gets done. I would love to know what would happen if I got more then these three days...
Which writing activities kickstart your writing when you're struggling to write?
Due to my autism, I am never struggling to write. My struggle is the opposite. It is a constant deluge of information. I struggle to not-write, but with mentees, students I prescribe a) walks - anywhere. Not necessarily in nature. I have in the past found urban walks to be really inspiring b) baths ( with a way to write available) c) in regards to this I will say never stop seeking out art that blows your mind - this will keep you inspired and wanting to keep going on. Also, don't struggle too hard. Walking away is just as good at staring at a page. The writing begins in the mind. In my Writer's Block course, I have likened the writer's practice to a garden, where overgrowth is coaxed into shape, 'seeds' are sourced, seeds are sown - I don't see the creative process like any other. It is a mysterious, holistic thing. Treat it as such. Whatever works for you is what works.
You can follow Sascha on Twitter: @AkhtarSascha