24 June 2015
NYWM Poetry: Oliver Mol
National Young Writers’ Month sees us throwing the spotlight on Poetry, with an interview series of young poets by Izzy Roberts-Orr. Say hello to Oliver Mol.
What do you do?
I’m a writer. I recently put out a book called Lion Attack! and I’m working on a book of poetry called I’m Trying To Write My Way Out Of Feeling Sad And It’s Working, I Think.
Where else have you published?
You can find my stuff all over the place. I was publishing on Facebook a lot and I’ve been publishing on Twitter a bit more recently but I’m kind of taking a sidestep back from publishing on social media, which I was doing a lot in 2013 and 2014. I’m just working more on bigger projects at the moment and publishing in some online journals that I really like.
What drew you to publishing on social media?
Everyone, it seemed to me, who was buying and publishing and reading lit mags, especially in Melbourne, but more broadly Australia, were all the same people. I didn’t feel like I was reaching anyone new with my work. For me it was a no-brainer; “if that’s what people are reading, then why wouldn’t I be publishing directly to there?” which was influenced by a few poets like Heiko Julien and Rachel Bell from Chicago.
I knew from my own personal experience that if there was a link online to someone’s work – that’s just one more barrier between you and that work. If it’s right there in your feed and you read the first sentence, you can hook someone straight away and that’s what excited me. If half the time you’re not getting paid to publish anyway, why wouldn’t you do that?
You mentioned some Chicago poets that inspired you – how did you find them?
They’re all part of an online literature scene that I’m part of and I’d known Heiko for a while but not particularly well. I’d read his book, I’m Ready To Die A Violent Death, out through Civil Coping Mechanisms, which is a great small press. Rachel – I’d known her for maybe two or three years – she published a mini ebook with a guy named Austin Islam that I really liked and then we added each other.
I just did a big 13-city tour in America and Canada at the beginning of this year and they were some of the people I stayed with and I think they’re publishing some really exciting stuff.
Was it strange meeting them in real life?
It was great. It was easy. We just sort of met, we partied a lot. We had fun, we read each other’s work, we read a lot of other people’s work. We read work that influenced us. It was really nerdy but really fun.
How did you become part of the online lit community?
Just add people on Facebook. That’s what the whole scene is – it’s all really supportive for the most part and if you see what people are publishing, maybe add someone and like ask their advice.
Just add people, tweet at them, send stuff to those publications. As soon as you find one writer you like, you can search where they’ve been published and probably find other writers that you like. It’s like music, but there’s just no soundcloud.
How do you know when something’s ‘finished’?
You just have to trust yourself. When I started I never really knew if it was good, or I had an idea that it might be good and so when it got published, I was like “oh, well it must have been good”. Now, even if something gets published I’m still not super convinced.
The more you do it – it’s like that whole 10,000 hours thing – the more hours you put into something the more knowledgeable you get about the subject, the more you trust yourself. No one should be able to tell you that something is or isn’t done. That should be a thing that you decide for yourself. You also have to do the work to make it good.
Have you been rejected? How do you deal with it?
Yeah, heaps! I’ve been rejected like over 100 times. Probably more. It’s fine – you should be wanting to get rejected. Especially when you start out. You should aim to get rejected, because at least then you’re putting yourself out there.
More often than not, people give you feedback on what you’re doing. Even if they don’t, you can read other things that did get in and see what they’ve done, what you haven’t done. I think that’s a lot of the reason a lot of people don’t put themselves out there, because they have a fear of rejection.
I still get rejected all the time, and it’s not a bad thing. It keeps you hungry. I think if you were being accepted everywhere, you’d probably get bored.
Any tips for being edited?
The editor shouldn’t be trying to make the piece their own. In the same way that you have to understand that an editor’s job is to improve the piece. You should be working together as a team to improve the piece. It’s not one person telling the other person how it is.
You should stick up for yourself while also understanding that you are working together to improve it. They’re not your enemy.
Do you have any rules for writing?
I read a lot. Especially when I started out, I’d always have 3 books on the go – one for structure, one for style and one for voice. That’s how you learn. You learn about what’s come before you, and then you make that your own and you apply it. Your brain is a muscle as well, so I think if I had a tip if it would just be read lots and read widely.
You should want to stay at the desk. You shouldn’t chain yourself there just because you think you have to. It’s not always going to be easy, but you should want to do it.
Where can we find your stuff?
‘Sometimes Ghosts Are Something And Sometimes They Are Something Else’ on Shabby Dollhouse
‘I Used 2 Want 2 Fall In Love Now I Just Want 2 Be Punched In The Face’ on The Bohemyth
An Excerpt of ‘Lion Attack!’ in the Rolling Stone
‘Writing A Book and Living A Life Can Be Like Two Lonely Kids Gripping Each Other Because They Don’t Want To Be Alone’ on Seizure
Alejandro Zambra, in particular The Private Lives of Trees and Ways of Going Home
John Mortara, especially poems and videos
Mira Gonzalez (US)
Crispin Best (UK)
Sara Sutterlin, ‘I wanted to be the knife’
Rachel Bell, particularly this chapbook
Heiko Julien, particularly ‘I Am Ready To Die A Violent Death’
Check out dollhouse. They’re an amazing publication. They’re run by for girls, one of them lives in Sydney – Stacey Teague, who’s also a great poet. Shabby Dollhouse is a great sort of online Mecca of who’s doing exciting stuff at the moment.
They have a thing that they put out called ‘the reader’ which is like a monthly .pdf, which is a $4 thing and the content’s always super, super strong.
Shabby Dollhouse Editors
Stacey Teague (NZ poet, based in Sydney) and her book Takahē
Lucy K Shaw (Berlin)
Sarah Jean Alexander (Brooklyn)