Discover more from Unleash Lit
Ask the Writer: Jason Berthiaume
A Q&A with a rising young writer; interview by Jen Knox
Jen Knox (JK): Hi, Jason! We were so lucky to be the home of your first published work. Can you tell us a little about your journey as a writer?
Jason Berthiaume (JB): I have been writing for as long as I can remember! I’ve always been a big reader, and I think that made a big difference for me as a kid when I first began coming up with my own stories and acting them out for fun. I probably looked very weird from the outside, running around and mumbling to myself, but in my mind, there were some seriously intense tales being told!
As I started going to school, I found that writing assignments were always my favorite. My parents were always a bit flummoxed as to why I was so happy to have received an essay for homework, but it really was a good time! This is also around the time my creativity started to spark, and I was actually writing some stories of mine down, creating with classmates and friends, that sort of thing. I started answering “An author!” to the infamous “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question, and began dreaming of being able to write and create as a career.
Honestly, after that, there isn’t much more I can say. That trajectory of creating and crafting stories has only expanded, and now that I’m in college, I’m actively studying it and loving every moment. I’ve written tons of stories (and actually completed a fair few, too!), with my longest being a novella totaling over 30,000 words (which I know isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it was a big moment for me!). That’s everything I can really say for my writing journey thus far, but hopefully, there will be many more firsts in the future!
JK: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received as a creative person?
JB: The absolute best piece of advice I have ever received as a creative person is simple—it’s more important to do and end up with something terrible than to never do anything at all. For writing, this means pushing ahead with that first draft, not worrying about making it good so much as just making it. Bad work is so much better than nothing at all because bad work can be edited! You can’t edit a blank page. As long as you keep trucking on (I try to aim for at least a sentence a day because of how simple that is to achieve, meaning that oftentimes I’ll write way over and feel extra productive!), you are doing what’s best for you and your creative development.
JK: Please share with us one (or a few) of your favorite lines, either from your own work or someone else's work, and explain what strikes you about the passage.
JB: It is really hard to choose my favorite lines of anything, but the first thing this question spurred to my mind was the Emily Dickinson poem “A Thunder-Storm.” I first heard this a few months ago and, like any good poem will, it has bounced around in my mind several times since then. It’s not a long poem, and every part of it is beautifully done, but if I had to choose my favorite part of it, I think I’d refer to the last stanza: “The wagons quickened along the streets, / The thunder hurried slow; / The lightning showed a yellow beak, / And then a livid claw.” I love the slow escalation that is used here, starting with the effects of the oncoming storm, followed by those low grumblings of thunder, then lightning in the distance, and then the strike close by. That steady increase in tension is just so well done, balancing the inevitability of the storm with striking imagery; I know that I never would have compared a lightning strike to a bird of prey before reading this, but it just fits so well. There’s a lot more I could say about these lines or the poem as a whole, so I will leave this literary analysis there, but I highly encourage anyone reading this to check out the full poem as there are even more incredibly well-done moments in the other two stanzas!
JK: How did you find your first publication?
JB: My first publication is actually on Unleash Lit, so I need to extend a thank you to this wonderful place for publishing my words! I found it while browsing Submittable, which a professor of mine introduced to me a few semesters ago. I started using it more frequently a few months back, submitting various things I’d written over the years and writing some new things as well. I was expecting to receive all “no”s (and, trust me, I have gotten a lot of “no”s), so to see a “yes” was incredibly rewarding. It gave me so much more confidence in myself and my abilities, so I will be forever grateful to Unleash for that.
JK: What are you working on next?
JB: Right now, the main two things I am working on are A, continuing to develop my craft (I’m taking a poetry course this semester that I’m really excited about, and of course, I’m always learning from writing on my own) and B, continuing to submit my work to various publications. Beyond that, I guess I’ve just been focusing on college and figuring out what I want to do with my life! Though I’m not fully certain of what my true calling may be as of yet, I am quite confident that my future will be filled with writing and creativity in some capacity, and that is more than enough for me.
Bio: Jason Berthiaume is a twenty-one-year-old English major currently studying at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has been writing for as long as he can remember, and would like to believe he is semi-decent at it after all this time. Aside from writing, Jason enjoys making music, reading fiction stories, and learning Spanish.