Blazing Moment of Beautiful Glory: A Conversation With Miranda Hill (Audio Version Included)
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Mentorship, creativity, excellence, motherhood, pain: this conversation covers a lot of territory. I’m honoured to have had Miranda Hill as a mentor over the course of the past eight months, and I’m so delighted that we’ve also become friends. Her wisdom and kindness radiate through her, and as you’ll see in this interview, she has so much to share not only about craft, but about living the writing life.

More about Miranda:

Miranda Hill won The Writers’ Trust / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize in 2011 for her story, “Petitions to Saint Chronic.” Her collection of short fiction, Sleeping Funny, was published by Doubleday Canada in 2012 and won the City of Hamilton Book Award. She is currently at work on a novel (for Knopf Canada), about switched identities that takes place against the backdrops of 1890s Pittsburgh -- fine houses, steel mills and social unrest -- and Muskoka's cottage country.

In 2007, Hill founded Project Bookmark Canada, an initiative that is building Canada's literary trail by installing passages from stories and poems in the exact Canadian locations where literary scenes are set. She served as executive director until 2017. Hill has also been active in refugee sponsorship and in advocating for greater access to midwifery services.

Hill was raised in Alliston, Ontario—home of a potato festival, a car plant and Frederick Banting. She received a degree in Drama from Queen's University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Today, she writes and reads in Hamilton, Ontario and in Woody Point, Newfoundland and Labrador. 


JACLYN DESFORGES

There. Now it's going. Okay. There it is. Now we'll sit here afraid of the recorder for a while.

MIRANDA HILL

Let's make a lot of noise with our cups.

JD

Okay. So, why don't you tell me about being mentored?

MH

Being mentored?

JD

Being mentored, and then we can talk about mentoring.

MH

Sure. So, I was going to say I came to writing later but, that's not true. I came to creative writing in a very devoted sort of way, quite some years after I had actually been already making my living from writing. I worked at a university newspaper and out of that, I went and worked at the CBC for some years in a support capacity for the most part though, then I did some production assistant stuff. But then I did some producing and things like that but, it was like, very, it was news and current affairs, that sort of thing.

So, there was some writing associated with that. And, from there, I wound up, when I was pregnant for the first time, I was starting to think well, what am I going to do afterwards? Am I going to come back to the CBC? The shows I was working on were late night shows so, like, the news shows and so, that was, the timing was really good for when you were pregnant and you were tired and getting up in the morning like, was not a good thing. So, I could go in at 11:00 but, I might be home later. And, that wasn't maybe going to work out so well, if I went back to work after having a baby.

Anyway, so, while I was on maternity leave, I heard that a friend of mine had a column, a freelance column. She had to give it up very quickly. And, she was somebody I had worked with at CBC and she said, take my column. I'm like, "I don't know how to do that like, for pay."

And so, I but, I really was not wanting to go back to fulltime work as a producer or, a researcher and so, I took it and, I started actually making a living off freelance writing, communications writing. Then I wound up working, you know, fulltime in communications writing or, strategy.

JD

What was the column about? You have to tell me.

MH

The first column was a high tech column, which is pretty funny, because…

JD

Ooh, in what year?

MH

So, that would have been in 1996.

JD

Oh, that is hilarious. Do you still have your columns? That's really funny.

MH

Oh, I have clips somewhere. It was for Via Magazine. It was more, they called it high tech but, it was gadgets. And, I was terrified, because I was like, those I know nothing about any of those things. And, the person who had the column, had a tech background. And, it's like, "What?" And, she's like, you have to write about digital cameras and, stuff like that. And, I'm like, "Oh. Okay. I can do that." I just have to research that, right.

JD

But, you couldn't Google things, could you?

MH

You could do some searching, sure. Because, yes, I had the Internet at home. There's no way I would have been able to do it without the Internet at home. Like, I wouldn’t have been able to have the career I did at that time. So, I felt quite confident that I could write but, the creative writing was elusive. Because I had little people and, I was just barely getting by on the little bits of money that I had. And, so, I wasn’t putting any time into the creative writing. And, so, I decided to go, to try and, get into a creative writing program that would have a lot of deadlines and, that was my big thing. I'm paying for a deadline. Like, these are the most expensive deadlines ever. But, I wanted one to have creative deadlines, rather than just articles about condo floor plans, things like that. That's what people were paying me for before.

JD

That sounds exactly like my background.

MH

Mm-hmm. I know. We have so many similarities.

JD

I know. It's really funny. I was writing about coconut oil.

MH

Yeah. Coconut oil wasn't a hip thing at the time.

JD

Not quite there yet.

MH

Yes. So, yeah, so, I didn't have enough for a portfolio.

JD

Right.

MH

So, a really wonderful beautiful thing happened actually, I got fired from my job. And, fired from a job that paid well. Had a really good title. A job I never thought anyone would give me and, I got fired from it. And, it was great.

JD

I'm so far down the rabbit hole that I just fully accept when someone says, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got fired from my amazing, you know, benefited job." Like, "Oh my God. You won the lottery. That's amazing."

MH

Yeah. It was good because, I couldn't really quit because, at that point I had a new blended family of five kids and, I was the only one with a paycheck at that point, because, my husband was in the middle of the back half of a push on his book, big book.

And, so, yeah. So, yay, they fired me and I was like, "Well, I am damn well getting into that school then. So, I had 30 days to make a portfolio.

JD

I did mine in a week.

MH

Yeah. Yeah.

JD

People spend a year on these applications.

MH

Yeah. They probably should. [Both laugh] I had intended to spend that time on there and just could never get to it, so. With the firing, I was like, I've got to make it worth something. And, miraculously got in. Because at that time, I don't know what it's like now there, at UBC, in the distance program but, at the time, people got turned down quite a lot and had to apply multiple times. Even sometimes, people who had published books. So, I don't know what happened but, I was really fortunate. And, I got in and yeah, and I knew that I wanted to study there because, I had read the curriculum for one particular teacher and, what she was teaching. And, I had looked at a lot of curriculum, curricula online for different distance education programs, all over North America. And, I thought, these don't seem rigorous and, if I'm going to pay for this, I want to like, I want to come out changed. I want to come out really good. Like, as good as I could be at that point in my development. And, that person was Zsuzsi Gartner. So, you go for a couple of weeks in the summer and then you have this, you work distance the regular school year. And, so, you can get a half credit in the summer. And, I didn't sign up for the short-story class, I signed up for poetry class because, I wanted to then, devote two years to studying the short-story, right. And, so, I thought, well I'll get, poetry was what I was doing more of, I was like, okay, I'll get one of my two poetries out of the way and, then I can just devote myself. Well, that turned out to be a weird strategy as understood by people around me because, the people who are in Zsuzsi Gartner’s class, were all streaming into her class in the fall. So, I had then, kind of made myself like a waitlisted person.

JD

Oh, okay.

MH

And, at that time, people really fought for the professors that they wanted to work with. And, I think, it's a little bit different now. I think they made some changes around that. And, the Professors had complete autonomy about who they could choose to put in their classes. I think, that's changed too or, when I was leaving they were trying to change that. And, so, I had a very awkward meeting where I tried to get this person, whom I never met before and, didn't know, is not a soft touch, let's say, where I was trying to convince her, not convince her, but, I was trying to tell her why I wanted to be in the class. And, why she shouldn't take the fact that I hadn't chosen her class for the summer, as an indication that I wasn't serious because, she completely did take it that way.

JD

Wow.

MH

And, basically said, "Why should I let you into my class? I don't know anything about your work. I don't know who you are. We've never had a conversation before," you know. And, I remember being really frustrated but, also being, thinking, I am not begging for this situation. [Laughs] First of all, I'd been through a divorce. Like, you don't beg somebody to really spend time with you. It will not work, right. It's like, give up.

JD

And, you're, you're a fully grown woman at this point. You have children. You've been through a divorce. You're like…

MH

Yeah. I'm like, "No." But, at the same time, I did understand her point. And, I was telling her, I came to this program for you because, of what you could teach me. But, I said, I all-out said, "I'm not going to beg you to be in your class. I am not going to tell you I will be the best person in your class. There's no way I will be the best person in your class. I'm coming here because I want to learn." And, I said, "There's only one promise I will make you and, you can take it or, leave it. I said, I will be the hardest working person in your class. No-one will work harder than me. And, that would be my promise to you and you decide." And, it just kind of like, that was the end of it. And, I didn't find out for ages, that she did let me into the class. And, so, I was always aware that I had to keep that promise. And, I think, I do tend to be a little bit of a, put too much into things in a lot of ways. So, I probably would have anyway been like that. But, there were so many times it was really, really hard because, the bar was very high in that class, which was fantastic. But, I felt discouraged a lot, because I really didn't know what I was doing. And, but, I just reminded myself, all the time that I'd, you know, that had been my commitment and, I did not want that teacher to walk out of that class or, the one I took with her in the next year and think that I hadn't lived up to that promise that I had made her. Because, she did give me a spot that could have been somebody else's, right. And, so, she was a really, really, really tough mentor. And, some people really didn't like it. But, it worked for me, incredibly well. As I said, she wasn't like a milk and cookies encouraging person that way but, you just felt two things. One of the reasons you wanted to work so hard for her, was like, she put, like, it felt like she was putting the same amount of work into your work as you were in creating this from scratch. And, it was just so astonishing and so respectful that she would, it's probably crazy too. Like, why would she do that? That was probably not helping her. It's very draining. Because, I mean, she certainly wasn't getting paid at that level, right.

JD

Well no, but, no wonder like, the fact that she wanted to put that much energy into choosing the right people for her class, it's like, she's saying, I am going to put a lot into you. Are you going to be…

MH

Yeah. Are you serious? Yeah.

JD

…ready for it? Are you serious about this? Yeah.

MH

And, so, she was like flat out for us and so, we kind of had to be flat out for her. But, also, I described once to one of my classmates who talked to me on the side going, "I don’t enjoy this. I don't enjoy the way she speaks. I don't enjoy," you know, whatever. And, I said, well, the way I think about it is, she's my really tough track coach. And, every time I read something, she goes, "Uh-huh, do it again," you know. And, she does that though because, she knows you can go faster. She knows you can be better. And, the respect of being a beginning writer, knowing that that person believes in you enough to know that your work could go further, is incredible.

            And, for me, that was just the right matchup. And, I entirely understand why there were people that did not work for. And, I also think it worked well too because, we were at a distance. Because, the intensity of that face-to-face, might have been way too much for me, right. But, at a distance, I can literally walk away from the computer or, whatever.

JD

Well, that's always the benefit of writing, right. It's like, the rejections you get are from afar. And there's the long like, lead time.

MH

No, I'm pretty good at like, tucking them under my skin like some sort of implant. But, yeah so, it was really, I found it completely invigorating. And, I basically went in, having read a lot, like a lot of short stories, though the things that she gave me to read, were completely different and mind-blowing and stuff, I had not encountered myself, a lot of it tailored to the things that I was already putting out. But, so, I had read but, I really hadn't been writing fiction. And, I came out able to do that.

And, to think that that happened in three years, from basically zero with aspirations, to some real confidence and personality on the page. And, in the end, my thesis wound up being, my thesis was, seven of the stories in my thesis, wound up being in my collection. Seven? Maybe, maybe six. But, so, the bulk of my collection, which has a lot of long short stories in it and is only nine long, was created in that atmosphere. And, from nothing. Like, really from nothing.

            And, I shouldn't say from nothing, because of course, it's inside you. But, like, she was right there while I was crafting all of that work.

JD

Do you remember any moments when she taught you something that made things click? Or, you could see something very specific change in your writing? I've taken two fiction classes at UBC and there are a couple of things that I've learned from each professor that have sort of stayed with me. Do you have those from your experience?

MH

All of my fiction work, except for one summer class, when she actually wasn't teaching, was done with her. So, it's hard for me and, it was a while ago. So, it's hard for me to maybe put my finger right down on something. But, the things like okay, so, I wanted to work with, I tend to have all these crazy amounts of characters in my stories, right. It's way too many for short stories. And, instead of saying, "That's way too many characters for a short story," she's like, "Okay. Look at these three writers. They're doing crazy shit like that too," right. "But, look how they handle it. Like, you have to, you know, get some of that." And, I was like, "Whoa, that's amazing."

JD

What a great approach for a beginning writer too, to say, "I see what you're doing," and to validate it by saying, "Okay, this established writer is doing the same thing. Here's what you can learn from them."

MH

Yes. Yeah, that's always really invigorating to me like, if somebody reads my work and says, "Oh, you know who you should read because of what you're writing." Not, like, "Oh, this person does it better." Or, "Well, these people talk about that too." But, more like, "Oh, I think you're really going to love this, because of what you're doing," is, I don't know, it's still really fun for me. And it's fun for me to do that with other people too. I think, too, well, she really did teach me, I mean, somebody else could have taught me this too, I guess but, I really remember learning like, "You can polish something to the nth degree but, if it's not done, what the hell are you polishing it for?" Now, I still struggle with that. But, just, you know, the rhythm and the things that I worked on and, you know, get the language, get the story, get the feel, before you worry, too, too much about like, quite what happens. Oh, I know a big thing she really, really talked about all the time, unearned endings. Which I still have a big thing about, unearned endings. Because, you know, it's like, "Oh, that's really," like often, you worry about getting a really good ending, right. But, people will stick an ending on there that they didn't build, they didn't, they don't, they don't earn it. It's not, it's like, great, that's a big, you know, lots of explosions but, there were no explosions up to that point. How come suddenly we have TNT, right?

JD

I think maybe that was part of your feedback from my recent ghost story. Like, make sure you're earning that ending.

MH

Yeah. I think, that is such an amazing thing because, I think, people worry about their ending. And, then, so, they put all this into it but, it's not, it's not relevant. They didn't get there. They skipped to… it goes to 11.

JD

What does it mean to earn an ending?

MH

Well, yes. So, you have to really seed the… that's what I always think of it as, is seeding. Like, you can get to the end of a draft and, go, "Oh my God. That's where it was going," right. And, you could go, "Ugh, I didn't make it happen." But, then, you have to go back and drop the seeds, so that it grows into that thing at the end, right. So, I think, of that all the time when I'm doing re-writes, is seed that, seed that.

JD

Aw, that's the most fun of second and third drafts, is you know what you're doing from the beginning and, you can just drop a little bit of foreshadowing here and, there.

MH

Yeah.

JD

I love that part.

MH

Mm-hmm. And, she was really, as much as I said, she wasn't warm and fuzzy in any way, she was really good at creating a sense of a team. Like, she really had us listen to each other. She really had us work hard to be each other's like, main commentators at different times. You know, we really had to learn to pick something apart. Oh, I know another thing that I always think of that she talked about a lot, so, they're not moments but, they're like, principles that I've held really strongly. And, I don't know that they're original to her but, they're the things that for me, were really important. So, this, she would say often how she would want us to begin thinking about how to comment on some of these, is what is the essence of the story? What is its about-ness? What is the core of this? And, it could be a number of things, right. It could be a plot. It could be, you know, a sensation. It could be, you know, all sorts of things. And, so, when I don't have that in my work like, I feel that's like, I can't get a handle on what the about-ness is. I really feel it's very hard to work with it, until I really have a sense. I don't have to know what it is about but, I have to know, kind of like, be in that space, right. And, eventually be able to speak about it.

JD

And, do you find that it takes a while to get from the active writing something to get, to having a clear sense of its about-ness?

MH

Always, yeah. Yeah. But, often you have a draft and you still have that.

JD

Yeah.

MH

But, I mean, that's what workshops are good for too, right.

JD

Yeah. I think, like, interestingly, I find that I tend to shunt a lot, whatever I'm working on, unconsciously into my work. And, in poetry, obviously, you know, that happens. But, it's funny when it happens in short stories because, it feels like, whatever my particular mental issue is at the moment, is like taking on a completely different life of its own. So, in the ghost story, for example, I didn't realize until probably a month after I wrote it that it was really about like, a month after I wrote the first draft, it was really about, "Hey, when you make a mistake, you should just face up to it and go deal with it.” And, I had this character who had to face up to this ridiculous mistake of like, "Oh you basically threw away your life on earth for this loser guy, who turned out to be a jerk." But, you just sort of have to accept it and fly out the window, right? So, I don't know, do you find, do you ever find that? Like, do you feel like, it's a direct relationship with whatever is going on unconsciously?

MH

Yes. However, what I really, that certainly is like, certainly scenes I'm writing, it was like, sometimes it's I can't because of this mood or, whatever. I'm like, put the mood, put it in the story, put it in the story. But, I think, that my bigger revelation was not really knowing what something was about until it was like, done and printed.

JD

Oh wow.

MH

Not saying that anybody else would get that but, going "Oh." So, in my nine stories, I was really concerned because, everybody else in my classes, seemed to kind of have themes or voices, and I kept getting feedback from Zsuzsi Gartner, my mentor but, also from other students and stuff that you know, this could have been written by somebody else. In the last story. And I felt terrible about that. I was already worried about that. I'm like, "That's not good. I don't have a voice.”

And, then, one day, Zsuzsi is like, "What are you talking about? I know that you wrote all those stories. Like, I know you and the work that you went through for it." But, she said, "I totally see things through here that link these all together." And, I'm like, "And, it is what?" You know. Like, even trying to sell the collection for the most part, the people who really loved it, loved that. And, the people who didn't, were like, "Could we link these stories somehow?" I'm like, Okay. You do some mental math, because, I don't understand how these things are supposed to…

JD

Well, this guy could be this guy's cousin, you know.

MH

Yeah. It was like that. And, I was like, "I really don't want to publish with you. Thanks for the offer." Not, I mean, I'm sure they could have done good things but, not for that particular collection. But, it wasn't until I was finished the book and, it was printed that I suddenly realized, at the core of every story was really a question of, what happens if it's too late, right? Like, do you take this moment? Or, do you let the moment go? And, maybe if you, you know, maybe you could say every story ever has some aspect of that. But, those were my questions, right. Like, am I, you know, having come to this later, this is my big concern. "Oh my God, if I don't do it now, I'm not going to do it." And, that is the seed in each of those stories, my concern. Like, I'm all over the page there and, all my worries are all over the page. But, it is not, no-one else is going to say, "Oh that's exactly what links all these stories." But, I'm like, that is, it's almost like, writing a biography, that was a biography. And, people are like, "Oh, is this about your life?" I'm like, "In no way." And, at the same time, "Of course," right.

JD

Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Oh my goodness. Yeah. No, it's the same with me. But, I'm sure people do feel that on an unconscious level. They were probably able to feel…

MH

I hope so, because, it's an urgency. It's an urgency and it's a melancholy and, it's an Oh My God. Like, the stakes are so high, even no matter what the aspect is, right. It's like, that moment, whether it's about, you know, a 14-year-old in a Sex Ed where everybody can see their own conceptions. That's you know, that's the moment where she's kind of trying, she's passing over into adulthood. And, it's like, what are you leaving behind? What's at stake here? It's like, can you make this leap, right? Do you want to? Oh my god, what's the sacrament? Like, the things are all there but, or, you know, like a gothic, a 19th Century gothic story about, you know pigeons and God and, grave robbing and the Apocalypse, you know, it's also, like it's too late, it's too late. What happens if it's too late? You know, so, those things were all my concern, is it too late? Am I too far gone?

JD

Can I do this? Can I be this person?

MH

Yeah.

JD

And, it got wrapped up in all of your stories, entangled. And, you know, it was fascinating because, I was having, I was having a coaching session today with someone and, I'm doing this little program with her. And, she's writing her first short story. She's a non-fiction writer. She's amazing. And it was interesting because, I'm going through the process of telling her the different elements of the story, in a way that makes sense to me. Because, the traditional understanding of a plot, never made sense to me. I still don't really understand what an act is. But, it was amazing because, she was very concerned, she was very concerned about, but how does it become a finished thing, you know? And, I said there's only so much that the conscious mind can do and, here's what your conscious mind can do. You can have a character. You can have a bucket of pain for them to swim in and then climb out of, that's, there you go.

MH

Yeah.

JD

And, that needs to be, there needs to be the outer pain, which is a metaphor for the inner pain. Go. And, then it's like, all like, the rest of it is just entirely your subconscious putting in all the details and, all the little , dream space things. So, anyway, it's all very fascinating.

MH

It is.

JD

Much like creativity is.

MH

Yeah. I mean, I was talking to a writer friend because, I was really worried about this book that I'm writing. I've been writing for a bloody ridiculous amount of time and, it's very long. It's a novel. And, I'm like, what is this story even about? Like, I can tell you what happens. But, again, like, what's it, what's its essence? Like, I don't know. She's, you know, she's published a few books. She's like, "My book is like, on the shelves. I have no idea what it's about. How are you supposed to know what your book is about? You're not done your draft." I was like, such a good point.

JD

But, it is funny how the conscious mind sort of takes on labour it doesn't really need to do.

MH

Oh, it's funny or, it's awful, maybe. You can just tell it to stop.

JD

I'm curious about how, okay. So, you're talking about your experience being mentored and you had this very like, tough as nails mentor. And, I'm really curious about that because, you have been my mentor, for the past eight months and, you aren't tough as nails at all. You're so lovely and kind. So, I'm wondering what it is that you bring to your, to your own, what's your philosophy in mentorship?

MH

Well, I think, just like, hmm, a philosophy? I didn't know I could have a philosophy.

JD

Well you need one right now.

MH

Well, I just think, I think I approach this the way I approach many things, right. But, it's just we're talking about writing. I am kind of a rah-rah person, for certain things. Like, I'm like, "Yeah, you can do it." Like, that's kind of me. I also, if you asked my children or, many other people like, I'd also, go back and do it again. Especially if it's something that you care about or, you want or, you have talent in, if you have talent in it. Come on, do it again, you know. You want to be the best you can be at something, right.

JD

Well, you say that very matter-of-factly but, I don't, I don't know if everyone really believes that. Like, I think, you do have a very clear sense of requiring excellence in yourself.

MH

Yes. I do. I don't know that I achieve that but that's why I take so long at things, which isn't good. I think we were working together and you were like, working and working on stuff already, right. Like, your… [Laughs] ice break. It's an ice break. Because, I think, that when we were working on things and I, you were already working like, you were constantly redoing your work, right?

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH

I was still, I hope, very kind and friendly. But I mean, if you weren't already like… I never had to say, "I think this is good, but I think it could be better," right?

JD

Yeah.

MH

I didn't have to encourage you to have another go at things.

JD

Right. Because…

MH

You're not like… You're somebody who has another go at things.

JD

Because, similarly, I really value excellence. And, this whole project with Robin and I is about not stopping at mediocrity. Creating something that's going to allow for the development of excellence within a supportive environment.

MH

Yeah, so, my philosophy of mentoring? Well, let's just say when it came up that this could be a possibility that I would be working with you, I really, really, really didn't want you to have a generic bad experience. And, I was a bit afraid that that might happen. Like, I saw what you were writing. I saw that it didn't kind of fit into a lot of boxes. Cool. I thought well, if she's working with somebody who thinks it should, that would be bad. That could happen. I've seen that.

And, I also was thinking, I was seeing what your personal profile was. You had a young kid and you had just moved into Hamilton and, trying to do your instructing as well. And, I was just like, "I get where this person's at in her life." But… I had a feeling that you might not get nurtured. You might get patted on your head. And, I hadn't met you yet so, I don't think you would have taken that. But, that happens to a lot. Being dismissed. And, I really was like, "No, that's not going to happen with me," right. Because, even though, I hope, even though I'm kind as you say or, nurturing like, it's not out of a sense that things are going to be, or are, easy. It's "Let's do this in a kind way." But, there's a whole lot of shit you're juggling. How are you going to get through that, right?

JD

Right.

MH

And, often too, one of the things that I see over and over again, I experience it in my own life, I see it with other, it's so hard to have all these roles and, to take this on. And, I want people to take themselves seriously. So, I guess, that's what it is. Like, you know, I hope to be myself with people, which is kind of nurturing but, I want to take people seriously and, I want to tell people to make sure they are taken seriously.

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH 

Not if they're not going to do the work. I would still be very nice about it.

JD
Right.

MH

If you're not going to do the work, you're not going to do the work. But, if you're going to do the work and you have something that you want to do, so often these days, well these days, that's ridiculous. So, often, young women, young women who also kind of are engaged in some sort of traditional relationship like, being married, having a kid or, being at a certain point in their lives, the world tells them not to take themselves seriously.

JD

Yes.

MH

And, then, I want people to take themselves seriously. I want artists to take themselves seriously. I don't mean too seriously. I mean, laugh and, also realize you're bad a lot of the time and that's part of it, yeah.

JD

But to know, I'm interested in that moment of you showing up at UBC and deciding or, virtually like, just deciding, I’m going to get into the school and, I'm going to take it seriously. And, taking the schooling so seriously that you were, from the very beginning, insistent on like, getting the teacher, well you know, you didn't beg, but.

MH

No.

JD

Insisting on like, you wanted a certain experience.

MH

I don't think, I would have got her actually, if I begged. I realize that now. But, also, just not having it. [Laughs] Because, I take myself seriously.

JD

Exactly. And, I know for me in like, I do a lot of coaching and, I help a lot with the like, psychological things around writing. Because, so much of it, it is difficult and, it is hard to take yourself seriously when it's like you walk into a bookstore and, it's just there's so many books written by other people who aren't you, you know. And, it's hard, to get up every day and do something that is long and arduous for a goal in the future. And, to be able to, from the very beginning, decide this hurts so much that I'm going to do it. The only reason I did it, is because, I decided, I didn't have any other option. What was I going to do? I had this baby. What am I going to do? And, similar to you. Motherhood was a trigger to it as well, right?

MH

Well, yeah. It was me going, life passes fast.

JD

Yes.

MH
Well, and, also getting divorced that got me closer to it. And, then, because, I was like, "Holy shit." You think certain times are going to come and they tell, like, your time is not going to come unless you make it come.

JD

Yes.

JH

Yeah. So, what was the question?

JD

Alright. Well, I think…

MH

I know we were talking about the why? Why did I do that?

JD

I'm thinking about nurturing, versus the patting on the head, because you sort of made that, that distinction.

MH

Mm-hmm. Yeah, if anybody patted me on the head, it would make me, it would never feel nurturing. It would feel awful.

JD

Absolutely. Nurturing has the sort of maternal connotation. But, I'm thinking it's also like, maternalism is also, it has to be a little bit harsh.

MH

Well, it's hard to grow something, whether that's yourself or, it's another person, right.

JD

Mm-hmm. There is like a certain element of fierceness that has to be involved in it.

JD

Yeah. Like, we had a conversation because, you weren't too happy with something that got extended to you in the way, the conversation. That made me so mad.

JD

Yeah. Exactly.

MH

I was like and, I was just like, "What? I'm going to make a phone call," you know. So, I am very fierce in certain aspects.

JD

Yes. But, to me, you said, you know, "Sit back and, let's think about it. It's fine."

MH

Yes. "What do you want to do?"

JD

What do you want to do?

MH

Yes.

JD

Which probably comes from having all of your children.

MH

Yes. And, also too because, I'm a person who has a lot of anxiety.

JD

Yes.

MH

And, so, it's very hard for me to step, when it's my thing, to step back and go, "I'm not seeing it yet. Like, take a moment." And, sometimes, it has to be many moments because, I get really wound up. So, I'm like, "Okay." You were already doing that. But, I was like, "Okay. Well, let's make sure what you're doing is what you want to do."

JD

I know for me, at this point I feel confident enough that when I am condescended to…

MH

Mm-hmm. No, you're great.

JD

…I get angry about it.

MH

You get angry about it in such a productive way. You're like, "No. That's, that's a waste of my time. Forget it."

JD

Well, yeah. That was me like, ten minutes in. And, no, I had the first ten minutes where I was like…

MH

Yeah. Ten minutes. That's…

JD

I don't like being… I was angry. And I know I shouldn’t be. If I was…

MH

Ten minutes is so short. It could have been ten days.

JD

If I was spiritual aware, then I would be like…

MH

No, I don't know who those people are.

JD

I don't know…

MH

No, we don't like people like that.

JD

We don't, but…

MH

We want people to be a little bit human.

JD

We do.

MH

Mm-hmm.

JD

We want… I don't want to be like, "Well, I don't care what other people think."

MH

No, no.

JD

I do care.

MH

Of course you do.

JD

But, I think, it's a major step forward, as a woman, for me, in my own experience, to be able to be condescended to and have my first reaction to be anger.

MH

“Excuse me.”

JD

Exactly. Right.

MH

But, you have to… you have to have the chops to back it up.

JD
Exactly.

MH

And, that's where the thing is always, always. I'm, like, "I'm going to be the hardest working person in your class." If I have that commitment, then you have your commitment to me, right. And, so, I try and, I try and hold my end of the deal. I mean, one of the things that's been so hard about writing this particular book that I'm writing, is it's a deadline I've missed. I've never missed a deadline in my life. But, I mean, how do you write it and make a deadline for writing a novel, your first novel, right? No-one else cared that the deadline was missed. Like, no-one. And, I've been in constant freak out for three years, because, my deadline was three years ago. They said, they told me when we did a contract, we are writing this in pencil. We just have to put something down, right? It's freaked me out the entire time. Because, I'm like, "I didn't come through on time." And, I was a freelance writer. You can't do that. You have a deadline. Or, you don't get paid.

JD

Similarly though, you can't like, it's going to be a really good book. Like, they're going to be, you know…

MH

Well, we'll see. I hope so.

JD

I think it probably will be.

MH

I hope so. I thought of another thing about philosophy of mentoring.

JD

Okay.

MH

Well, it's just a philosophy, it's a realization, it's a philosophy of life. But, we were talking about it before we turned the machine on.

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH

Which is, you have to be bad first.

JD

Oh yeah.

MH

And, that is like, I swear, that's the Number 1 thing I tell people who are just talking to me about anything to do with making art.

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH

Or, doing just about anything. You have to be bad first. You're going to have to go through that process. So, are you going to delay it by not doing anything? And, then be pained? Because, I did that. Or, are you going to just do it now?

JD

Just get it done.

MH

Just get it done.

JD

Just be bad.

MH

Just be bad. Because, that is the only way to get good.

JD

My, honestly, my advice now, is like just pour yourself a glass of wine, it will be over soon. [Laughs] Just sit down.

MH

Or, not soon.

JD

It will be over in a year. Just, you know, set your timer. Just get it out. You got to get out like, a hundred pages or so, of just absolute, just garbage. And it's okay. It's really okay.

MH

Absolutely.

JD

There's another part of it. You have to go through the process of being bad. It's really unpleasant. It hurts. It pains. It's beautiful. It's agony.

MH

It's terrible.

JD

It's terrible pain.

MH

Because, you're shitty. Who wants to be bad?

JD

You're awful. You suck. Look at you, you're awful. That's very unpleasant.

MH

Yeah. So, what usually happens is then people stop.

JD

Yeah. And, that's the other part. If you continue because, this is where other people…

MH

Continue with intent.

JD

If you continue with intent…

MH

Because you can just keep being bad.

JD

If you have, if you seek help, you know, if you do everything you need to do…

MH

Yeah. Practice.

JD

…and, you keep going.

MH

Literally practice.

JD

Then, you have a very high chance of succeeding.

MH

Yes.

JD

A very high chance. Because, 99% of people do not. They absolutely do not.

MH

Yes.

JD

So, the line of thinking, I think, that stops people from writing is, they start writing and it's painful but, they don't think, "Okay. Well, it's okay, because in a year, I'll start to achieve some success or, I'll start to improve." They think, "Well, I'm not, I'm not going to be like, I'm not special. Like, even if I do this for the next 27 years in a row, I'm going to be awful forever. So, I'm just going to stop." And that is the lie. And it's so toxic.

MH

Yeah. Well, that is a lie but, it's also tied to another lie, I think. You're not guaranteed that you're coming out of this with any success or, anybody liking your work. What you are guaranteed is to be better than when you started.

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH

Are you going to be okay with that? Because, if you're not, you should quit.

JD

Yeah. Like, it's not fun. Don't do this for work.

MH

You don't know what the reception to your work is ever going to be. You will always, always, even if you're John Grisham… the majority of the books in that bookstore are not by you.

JD

Yeah.

MH

Right? So, that's always the reality. So, what are you doing it for? Are you doing it for the practice and the love of making? Because if you are, then, you'll feel good that you are in the process. You are working on your stuff. But, if you are doing it because, you're like, I want this thing that might help motivate you but, if that's your whole thing, you are going to be constantly dissatisfied.

JD

But the good thing is we don't need to tell that to anyone. Because those people who try to do that won't continue. They will just stop.

MH

Something that motivates me and really keeps me going is: I want to be a practicing writer. And I am very unhappy when I'm not practicing, when I am not doing the work. You know, I'm pretty happy when work actually gets done. I shouldn't say I'm not happy. I'm just rarely happy. Let's put it that way.

I'm happy to sit down at my desk and do my work and feel like I had a day where I honoured what I wanted to do. That makes me happy. The moment by moment, the time is ticking by, I do not feel happy. I feel frustrated. Or, wrestling. That's my biggest. I feel that I am wrestling with the work. Like, sometimes I come out physically tired. I know many people like this. I am married to one of them. Oh it’s so great. Like, "No. No." What I do, do is I, sometimes I crack myself up while I'm writing. That makes me pleased. I'm like, well, I'm actually making myself laugh. Because, something happened in there like, that is actually really funny. But, most of the time, I'm going, “Shit, shit, it's shit, it's shit.” And I'm going, "Shut-up, shut-up, shut-up.” But, actually, I was talking to another writer friend and she put it so well to me. She said, "When I am in the work, I am not happy or unhappy." And, I'm like, Exactly. Because you are in the work and, that is the satisfying thing, right?

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH

When you are trying to be in the work and it's a struggle, it feels awful. But, when you aren't doing the work, it feels worse.

JD

Yes.

MH

So, really, it's about pain management. [Laughs]

JD

Every decision in my life, is about pain management. That's so funny. But, you're right. But, like for me, the pain is, there is a certain amount of pain to writing but, it goes away when interrogated.

MH

It goes away when interrogated?

JD

Because you sit down and, you're writing and, it's like, "Uh, this is like so painful. It's awful.” [But really] I'm sitting in my comfortable chair, with my tea. Like, I'm literally just having a little conversation in my own brain. It's okay.

MH

But, that's the part that's hard.

JD

Yeah. But, it's also like, it can be fun. And, if I can get past the fear of it, then…

MH

You get in the flow.

JD

Then you get into flow and fun.

MH

See, I don't have fun when I'm in flow but, I feel good.

JD

There are drugs. [Laughs] Drugs and alcohol.

MH

Yeah. But, when I'm in the flow, I just am there. Yeah. I don't feel one way or, another.

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH

It's when I pull away from the desk and you go, "Oh. Oh, oh, that, oh. Okay. That went okay." Like, that's a good feeling.

JD

Oh yeah.

MH

And, the nicest thing is days like that where you go, "Oh, I worked hard." Who knows what was there but, I felt in it. I felt in it. I didn’t feel good, I just felt in it. I felt one with it. What's hard for me is feeling like I'm hitting at it and it's on the other side of the glass. It's an awful feeling.

JD

Is that, is that the moment for you that makes you do this? Is it the moment of like, "Hey, I did a really good job, you know, on my novel this morning. Like, today went well?"

MH

Probably.

JD

Because, that's what it is for me.

MH

Yeah. That’s what I mean. It's not going to be about the thing…

JD

Exactly.

MH

And, when you finish something, there's this like, blazing moment of beautiful glory. And, then, you're like, "Shit. I have to do that again?" And, also you start doubting all the things about it. And, then people talk about it and it's nice or, it's not. But, also, even when it's nice, sometimes it feels really weird. Because, it's a thing you did in your private space. And, then, suddenly, people are talking about it. You're like, "Don't. It's like we're talking about my underwear."

JD

Yeah. Well, that's the interesting part because, I find that the pleasure of public success diminishes when interrogated as well.

MH

Oh yeah. It's really, really small.

JD

It feels strange. It feels there are moments of like, ego-boost and, "Ooh, I'm so great." And, then, the thought that follows that, of course is, "What if I'll never be great again?"

MH

Yeah. Or…

JD

Like, I was great last year?

MH

Or, you start, if you're really screwed up, like myself, as soon as people start saying good things, you start to doubt their credibility. [Both laugh]

JD

I have done the same, only recently. That's a new development.

MH

Yeah. My agent and, my editor know that they have to be very careful with their compliments because, it freaks me out to the point where it's like, almost panic inducing. We can talk about the work though. Like, if it's like, "I love this line."

JD

Yeah.

MH

Or, "I like this line." This is the best, actually, it's like, "I like it, but again, how can we make like, if we could just…" you know, the working on it. That feels great.

JD

Mm-hmm. Did you feel like the work is something separate from yourself? Like, it can be discussed in the third person. Is it different when you get a compliment to you directly as a writer?

MH

No, I guess, I must not. Because, if people are like, "Oh my God." Like, right now, I have something that's not done, but a lot of it has been read by two of the most important people in my working world, my editor and my agent and they're excited. It feels more terrible than good. So, I guess, I don't think of it as separate from me. But, when we get down to the like, drilling into it, and, we're talking about the thing like, how to make the thing better, that will feel good.

JD

Right.

MH

That would be great. That feels like respect, again, because, it's like, "You did this thing, now we're going to deal with the thing." I like that.

JD

Right. And, what you did is worthy of taking…

MH

Of fixing it.

JD

…of fixing it. Of taking a glance at it and "Okay, let's make it even better." Whereas, the patting on the head or, saying, "You're great," you know.

Miranda Hill:          And, I, I don't, I adore both those two people in my life so, I really do trust them, because, I admire so much the work they do with other people. I admire the people they work with. I am so honoured to be in that company. But, then, when they talk about me, I always think, how, why do, like, they're so wrong. Like, what's wrong with these people? I do.

JD

Yeah.

MH

But, really, that's nothing wrong with them, it's wrong with me.

JD

It's so fascinating because, I did a lot of that. My workshops have evolved over time. So, I do very much value positive feedback, especially when we're, like in my workshops we do like, writing on the spot and we always share positive feedback of what people have shared. Because, you literally wrote that in five minutes. Like, "What are we going be? Oh, um," you know, like, it's just not. But, so, instead, we're like, "Oh, that line was really great," in hopes that that person will then go home and write something that will, you know, take that further. And, then, they can bring it back so, they can do a more critical process, right. But, yeah. No, it's fascinating how nurturing isn't really about being nice. Like, it's not about niceness.

MH

No. It's about respect.

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH

Mm-hmm. So much, yeah, you know. And, that can be communicated in a bunch of different ways. And, I guess, I am kind of a bit of a rah-rah, you can do it, sort of person. So, that's the way I try and communicate my respect. My mentor was not that sort of person. But, I felt respected all the time. I also felt like there were a lot of backhanded compliments and, I was like, "Am I supposed to feel good about that?"

JD

To you remember any of them?

MH

Yes. I remember the big one, which was when my thesis was done. And, she said, "You know, I've got to complement you. When I look at the work you were doing before, I never would have believed you could do what you can do." I was like, "Hmm. That was very honest [Both laugh] and, also, kind of horrible." Because, I'm glad that she didn't really go there and tell me that at the beginning because, I wouldn't have been able to keep going, right. But, also, you know, a couple of years ago, my husband was going through some boxes. He's been, he's known he wanted to be a writer since he was 14 and, he's been working on it, right. And, he was going through some boxes of his old stuff and he, like teenage stuff. But, I mean, he was working for years on it when he was a teenager, right. And, he came away and came home and said, "I learned such a valuable lesson today." And, he said, "Never look at an early writer's stuff and, think of what they can do." And, that is that, like, just do it, do it, do it. Work through it. He just kept at it. Because, he said, he works with a lot of young people too, on their writing. He said, "I would never, if I had 30 pieces I would have put that on the bottom of the pile of, that person's, if I were asked who's going to go somewhere." So, it's got nothing to do with that. It's got everything to do with how much work you're going to put into it.

JD

Our culture does really love that idea of someone just being…

MH

A natural.

JD

A natural genius that doesn't require any sort of…

MH

There are a few.

JD

…any sort of cultivation.

MH

Well, even natural geniuses require cultivation, right.

JD

I would think so, right? Wouldn't it be better for them to get that cultivation?

MH

Well, I remember, I had a history teacher and, I know he was talking about some study or, some book that had been written but, I don't know the original source of this. But, he would say, "So," so, you know, this was a few years ago, I was a teenager. He said, "So. Wayne Gretzky is like, the most talented player ever born, right. Like, this guy, like, he's amazing. There's only one Wayne Gretzky in the world. What if Wayne Gretzky was born in the Sahara?"

JD

Yeah.

MH

There are probably people, it's not like they're all over Canada or, they all have access to a rink. Or, they all have whatever, the money and, the whatever. But, there are people with those exact talents in other places. Or, what if you are, could have been the best swimmer in the world? What if you were Michael Phelps but, you lived in a landlocked country where there was, you didn't have access to a pool? You never get to be that person. So, even if you have incredible genius, like talent beyond and a body that specifically seems to be made for something, if you don't have all of those things set up, all of those opportunities, all of those possibilities, all those privileges, you are not going to ever discover your genius, and then you're not going to nurture it.

JD

Now, with athletes, there are these certain physical characteristics that make someone exceptional, in a particular sport. Do you think that there's something like, what is it about writers that make them become writers? Would you be able to describe a writer in the same way you describe a swimmer?

MH

I used to think I could. But, you know…

JD

After meeting a lot of them, what do you think?

MH

No. Not at all. I mean, there are enough idiots out there who are really good writers but, they never seem to notice anything or listen to anyone. So, I would say you have to be cognizant and aware of the world. But, apparently not, sometimes. I would say that's a Number 1 thing though. I think, a few of those people manage to slip through or, they're just so fond of themselves that that's their only topic, I don't know. And, they do a good job talking about themselves. There's a few of those. But, no. I would say you have to, you know, you have to ruminate a bit. But, you know, maybe you never ruminate until you actually do it on the page either. I would say a writer is someone who works something out by writing it, that's the only thing.

JD

Yeah.

MH

And, I know that my husband [Lawrence Hill] would say a writer is someone who sits down and writes, that's it.

JD

That's his philosophy?

MH

Yeah. And, you know but, I used to think, "Oh well," often, it's like, the nerdy kid who, you know, was excluded, this is all, I feel is often true for artists but, it's also not. You're like, you meet people who are like, "Oh, you were what? You were the Captain of what? And, you're a really good writer? Oh, you have a medical degree?" You know, I don't know. I don't know.

JD

I guess, the difference is the desire to do it. Because, it does really suck.

MH

I think though, some people don't even know they have the desire till some moment happens and then they just do it, right?

JD

Did you have one of those moments? Or, you came to it later but, did you have a moment in your life when you were really into it when you were a kid?

MH

I always wanted to do it when I was a kid.

JD

And, then, do you remember why you fell into the periphery of writing?

MH

Yeah. No confidence.

JD

Yeah.

MH

Yeah. And, also just that same thing like, "Oh, well, I'm not good at it." Though as a kid I wrote, I have some poems I wrote as a teenager that are really damn good. I'm like, "Why didn't you just keep going? Oh my God." Like, I didn't take it, I didn't take creative writing in university. I went to a university where there were a couple of creative writing courses and I didn't take them. Because I was terrified to do it. I didn't think I could do it. This is just… it's not a degree program. I knew half the people in those classes and I was so afraid to be bad at it, that I didn't do it.

JD

Well, it's very scary to be bad at something you want to do.

MH

Yeah.

JD

It's really easy to be bad. Like, I could go waterski right now and be terrible at it…

MH

Yeah. Totally.

JD

…and, it wouldn't affect me.

MH

Yeah, you'd be like, "Whatever. I won't waterski again." But, I mean, I danced. I was a competent dancer, dance student and I worked at it really hard and I was competent. That was frustrating. I didn't work at it with all my heart and soul though. I was too busy reading. And, then, I became a drama student. I was quite good. And, that's what I thought I was going to do and I kind of pushed the other thing aside. And, then, I just realized no, like, at that point, actually, I realized I was a better writer than I was an actor and, I was putting more into my acting than into my writing. I was like, "What? Why don't I just put this energy into this?" I'm actually kind of okay at this. I was writing in the newspaper, I was editing at the newspaper. And, there were certain things that seemed like, I got fast, right? Because, I read so much. I knew if somebody else's work was good or bad. I could help them make it better. And I could turn out something quite good without much experience. I do think about gifts sometimes… like, you kind of often start a little higher than other people, you know what I mean?

JD

It's an initial boost but it doesn't carry you very far.

MH

No, it doesn't. Except somehow you pick up steam from that too. Like, I don't just mean, like, psychological steam but, I think, it keeps shining as you go, right. It doesn't mean you're not going to do something bad. I write badly all the time.

JD

Me too.

MH

But, most of the time I'm pretty aware of what's bad.

JD

That's the difference, I think, because, I write bad stuff all the time and, I write a lot of bad poems that could probably get published. But, I don't want to publish them, because they're bad.

MH

Yeah. I don't, I don't want anything to go out the door that isn't my best that I could do at that time. I should ease up on that a bit. Because it sounds good on paper but it could actually be crippling and then, you don't necessarily do what you need to do to actually improvement. So, it's the same demon to fight, whether you're starting or, whether you're continuing or, just trying to make yourself better and do a new project. So, yeah, that's my big, that's my big thing.

JD

Well, yeah. To finish off, can we talk a little bit about what it is you're working on now? I know you're working on your novel but, like, what are you working on in yourself as a writer?

MH

Same things.

JD

The same things.

MH

Mm-hmm. Yeah. Within the last year or, so, I've really become aware that I'm just fighting that same fight all the time. And, that's okay because, now, I know that, I'm going to be fighting that till I'm dead. Like, that's my personality. So, it's not about the work. Also, I keep telling myself, "Oh, you need to write more. You need to work harder to make the work better." And then, I realized, I realized just a few months ago, "No. The work's always going to get better." Because, I'm always writing, right. The only thing that I really need to work on, other than just putting the time in, putting the time in, there's no, there's no new thing I have to do with my work, I just have to keep going to my desk. I don't have to learn a particular lesson or, whatever like, I just have to keep going to my desk.

What I need to do is work on how I feel about the work. Because I get in the way of myself. So, I actually have to work on enjoying not the work more necessarily, but my experience of being a writer in the world. It's not going to get easier. It's going to stay really hard but I need to be less hard on myself. It's not going to slow the process down. In fact, it will probably speed it up, if I don't spend two hours after I work thinking that was a bad writing session. It is or it isn’t. You're just going to go back and do the same thing tomorrow. And, if you get yourself really worked up, which I tend to do, you're going to be that much slower getting to your desk. Or it’s going to be harder to drop down into the work because there's too much psychological noise. Or, none of it. You don't get ahead. You might set yourself back. Maybe you're at zero but, you just feel bad about yourself all the time. I was like, "How is that smart?" I don’t know but, so, yeah, I just try to work on having more fun around the work.

JD

How are you doing that? Tell me how. How do I do it, Miranda?!

MH

Well, because, when I was writing when I had small children and stuff, I was quite punitive with myself because, I didn't have a lot of time. And, so, I stopped doing a lot of fun things because, I was like, I don't have time. Like, I'm wedging this in to these little tiny hours. Like, I'm getting up super early before people wake up, or I'm trying to do something while they're sleeping. And, maybe I'm typing with one hand, while I'm holding a baby, though often I'm doing that on something someone is paying me for because, I don't care about that as much. But, so, I stopped. Like, I was like, "There are 24 hours in the day. This many are going to be sleeping. Even if I am whittled down to the least amount possible, this many is definitely going to be childcare, no question." Plus at various times, making money in various ways. So, if I have this much, "free time," am I going to watch television? Or, am I going to write? And, that was really, really good. Because, that was a math formula. I didn't have other opportunities. Now, it's not like that, right. So, there's been a process of trying to teach myself to have more fun. Just to let myself have more fun, I mean, just like, not worry about it. Like, just enjoy something.

JD

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

MH

You're good at that though. You're good at…you seem to always have fun things you're doing.

JD

Really? Because, I tend to just…

MH

People you spend time with and you're having soup! Soup nights.

JD

Oh yeah.

MH

I think that's good. I think that's something that's actually really influenced my thinking from the time that we started working together. I'm like, "Huh. You seem to have so much joy around these things." I was seeing it in practice all the time. And, it's funny because somebody said to me, "Oh, it's because she's younger and, she hasn't had that stamped out of her practice yet." And, I'm like, "No." Because, I never had it.

JD

Right. All I do is work but, I tend to file a lot of my work into fun. And I think that’s because of this guilt response. Because I have to say to my partner, "Okay, I need this many hours to do writing."

MH

Right.

JD

And, then, this was especially when I was building my writing practice. He had this very high level job, just very stressful stuff. So, I had all this guilt around it. So, I think, my guilt around taking time away from, you know, money-making labour to do work on this, strangely trained my brain that this is fun or, some kind of vacation. Because I had to ask for space for it. So I'm consciously making space to do it. But it doesn't feel the same as if I was like, "Oh, I got to go work my shift down at the laundromat.” You know, that would really, that would really not be good for me, you know. That would suck, probably.

MH

Yeah. I don't know. Well, it's whatever you're doing.

JD

Whatever I'm doing is working.

MH

Yeah. Yeah.

JD

Is there anything that you would like to add?

MH

It's been fun having conversations with you.

JD

I know, it's been really, it's been a really fun eight months. I sort of wish we recorded them all.

MH

Yeah. No. [Both laugh] There are some that it's better not to have recorded. Yeah. No, it's good. This is me being kind of Pollyannish again but, like people talk all the time about like… There's kind of two streams of thought of people who are teachers. And, one is like, "Oh, I learn so much from my students, blah, blah, blah," right. And, then, there's that, "What the hell are you, if you're really, like, why are you like that? Why would you say that?" You are the teacher and you are teaching. And, I really feel like, both of those are stupid extremes, right. It's like, yes, you do, you learn so much, you learn about…no, if you were a more seasoned writer, you are probably not going to learn something new about how to write a sentence from the person that you're working with. Maybe every once in a while, you go, "Whoa. You did something really cool there," you know. Like, "Okay, I can see how I can incorporate that." But, you are getting so much from the energy of the people, from their particular concerns, because they're not necessarily your concerns. You might look at something differently. You might have a whole different perspective, because, you're in conversation. And, you're in conversation with somebody's work, right.

But it’s also an opportunity to learn more about yourself because, you have to figure out, how do I do that? How do I express that? Right? And, then, you go away more informed on your own work, because, you're like, "Oh yeah. I guess that is what I do," you know. That's helpful. And, so, do I want to [mentor someone] all the time? No. I can see how you'd be like, "No." In the end you'd be like, "I don't ever learn anything, I'm doing this book [instead]." No, I don't want to give up my working time for teaching, mentoring time. But, it is very invigorating, it's really invigorating if you have a very lively partner in the experience. Because that's the way I felt, it was very, to me it felt very much like, a partnership in this experience, right?

JD

Mm-hmm.

MH

It was invigorating. And it was fun.

JD

It was very fun.

MH

And we got to do it in Hamilton.

JD

We did.

MH

Which we love.

JD

We love Hamilton.

MH

We do.

Robin Richardson