Q&A With a Fellow Student: Morgan Gordon
By Lucy Farcnik
Morgan Gordan is a second-year Creative Writing student at Concordia University. She is also planning a minor in film studies. Her favourite genres of creative writing are short stories and poetry. She loves scriptwriting and wants to write and direct her own films one day. She hopes to get a masters in script writing in the future.
What is your goal as a writer?
Having my life experiences heard and read without having to be lived is my personal goal. Having people be able to live in those moments and then go about their day without having to have lived in my head is so fascinating.
Why study creative writing? Why is doing it in school, particularly in university/post-secondary school, important?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m reconsidering all my life choices [laughs]. I think creative writing gives you the ability to further understand what you write and why you write it and how you write it and how it gets perceived. Things like that. I think getting to see a wide variety of opinions about your work without having to put yourself out there in scarier ways like open mics really opens you up to understanding more about how your writing functions outside of your own head.
What would you say the biggest benefit of being a creative writing student is?
I would say the biggest benefit is that it is kind of like studying psychology in that you really have to understand your characters on a very human and spiritual basis. For me, this is going to sound like the most pretentious thing in the entire world, but writing is very spiritual in the sense that I think it teaches me to understand the world around me far more deeply when I write about it. Understanding interiority feels very psychology-esque to me, which is cool, because I refuse to do any of the actual science stuff that psychology majors have to do, so I get a bit of it from writing [laughs]. I’ve watched my perception of the world around me change as I’ve gone through this program, and I think that that’s very cool to see.
Then what’s the biggest drawback?
The drawback would be the looming financial instability that there is. Creative writing opens a lot of doors in the sense of the fact that you can take this anywhere, but I feel like those doors don’t usually lead to a ton of financial stability, which is scary as a student. I also feel like the creative writing world is very pretentious. The more niche knowledge you have, the more you’re seen as intelligent, the more you’re seen as valuable and valued as a person. Your ability to quote Ulysses off the top of your head is what ties you to your worth as an individual, which is a bit much for me.
What poems can you quote of the top of your head, if not a couple passages of Ulysses?
I can do pretty much all of Red Fish, Blue Fish, and a little bit of Green Eggs and Ham [laughs].
Would you say there are any particular places that inspire your writing?
I think a lot of my writing comes from my inner self, if you will, and it's very divulge-y. If that’s a word or not, I don’t know [laughs]. So the places that inspire me are like my childhood home, or places in Morocco that I’ve visited, where my mother grew up, my grandmother's house. Stuff like that, stuff that I know intimately but my reader might not know at all, and it makes it kinda fun to either have them experience this world through my lens or have this inside joke with myself where I know precisely what I’m talking about but they wouldn’t.
Would you like to work in the publishing industry? Have you learned anything about how to do so in the program so far?
Maybe. I think the world of creative writing and publishing is super mystified, and there’s not much that’s done to demystify it. I also think part of the creative writing world is gatekeeping. The people who have the jobs want to keep them, and they’re less likely to talk about how they got there. I haven’t gotten a ton of industry knowledge from school yet. In a panel the department ran, there was one about how to make money as a writer, and the answer was basically, like, don’t. ‘You can maybe just apply for grants over and over until you get one, and if you don’t, see where that takes you,’ was pretty much the explanation. So that sucks. But for me specifically, I really want to write scripts, and being an individual writer isn’t as much of an issue. It can be really emotionally exhausting to sit and write by yourself, so having a writers’ room would help me. I’d like to be there.
With your interest in scriptwriting, how does your interest in film and creative writing intersect?
I did film production at Dawson, which definitely was a hands-on experience of making a film from scratch. Everything, even the acting! I’ve always done a lot of writing for myself, so creative writing really helped me to be more productive and learn to write for other people. They merge in the writing room for me, my goal would be to write and direct my own film. It’s hard to do in this world when you’re blessed with ovaries and boobs, there’s less opportunities. Hopefully we’re going towards living in a better climate for that, where it isn’t all Quentin Tarantino.
What is your writing process? Where do you work most commonly, and with what?
In general, I don’t think I’m the right person to ask. My way of doing it, especially with poetry writing practices, is basically recovering and going back into memories that I have kind of shoved into the back of a deep dark filing cabinet in my brain. So, I wouldn’t recommend that! [laughs] But in terms of things that I need in general to write creatively, for things like fiction that is less about my personal experience, I cannot work in my house. There is too much going on, my little brother is absolutely off the walls and it’d be impossible to do anything. So definitely like a coffee shop, with my headphones in. I usually work with my iPad and Apple Pencil. It has that fake paper coating, so it feels like I’m writing on paper, but I know I won’t lose it later!
Write a random poem about what’s around you. You have the iPad!
[Laughs] Lucy, I did not come here to do work. How about something with the dog and the masks. Some sort of haiku. K9, KN95… I have not had coffee yet.
Would you like to publish anything in the future that doesn’t have to do with K9s and KN95s?
Absolutely. I think all writers have to be a little bit narcissistic. You have to believe you have something worth saying and reading. You gotta commodify your brain, which is weird. But I’d love to do a collection of short stories. It’d be fun to do, but it’s not my be-all-end-all goal.
What is a writing style/ability that you’re jealous of others about or would like to develop?
Specifically in poetry, I’d love to learn more how to write not from myself, to not use me as the only source material. That would help merge the creativity of writing without having it be conflated with my own psychology, which is what poetry always ends up being for me. That can be uncomfortable in academic settings. To use the world instead of my inner musings [laughs].
What advice would you give to someone looking to go into creative writing, specifically in school?
Don’t if you’re in it for the money [laughs]. I think you really need to have a thick skin. I don’t think I’m in the position to offer life or career advice as in ‘this is what you should do.’ I don’t have that figured out. But you need a thick skin, that’s the most important, and being self-confident in the way that you trust yourself and the fact that your writing is sound. Not everyone is going to be your ideal reader and connect with what you’ve written. Being able to take some peoples comments and throw away others is really important. That’s part of the process, people telling you what doesn’t make sense so that you can rework. People will misunderstand what you’re trying to say a lot of the time, give you comments you might not agree with, but you’ve got to let things roll. It’s good life advice in general.