Madison Sotos, whose prize-winning story Belly’s Bakery is published in the third issue of Lucent Dreaming, is an American student from Washington D.C. She is currently studying English and Comparative Literature at the University of St Andrews. She has long harboured a passion for creative writing and hopes that her piece in Lucent Dreaming will be the first of many published pieces. In this interview she talks about the inspiration behind her story and finding confidence to share her work.
What inspired your piece, ‘Belly’s Bakery’ and how did it find its way to Lucent Dreaming?
I discovered Lucent Dreaming when my university sent out a memo about the short story contest. I’ve always loved creative writing, but as a full time student, I don’t have a lot of time to spend nurturing this passion. The short story contest struck me as a good way to spur me to take some time to write non-academically, write for myself. When I first saw the prompt “untold stories,” my immediate response was to write about a secret of some sort. Upon beginning the process of writing, I tried out a number of different stories, all with different characters, different viewpoints, and different secrets. However, the one thing they all had in common was that each secret was in a way dark or sinister, as secrets are always “untold” for a reason. It was after beginning these “tester” stories that I decided I wanted to go a different direction and make my story’s secret inherently good and innocent. From this, the idea of ‘Belly’s Bakery’ quickly followed, as there seemed to me nothing more innocent than a child and a love of chocolate, keeping a secret for the love of family.
What does creating art mean to you?
To me, creating art means simply creating. Art is anything that involves the application of human imagination and the expression of that imagination. For this reason, I believe that any act of creation is itself a work of art.
What writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
I have been working on a novel for nearly two years. It too contains many “untold stories,” although they are a fair bit darker than the secret seen in ‘Belly’s Bakery.’ However, the end goal of this story is to relay the same message of hope, the possibility of joy, and the creation of one’s own happiness that I hope is evident in ‘Belly’s Bakery’.
What are you most excited about right now and for the future?
There’s no one thing that I am most looking forward to in the future or right now – I’m looking forward to all of the possibilities that the future holds. I have no concrete plans for the future at the moment, which excites me because it means I am not tied down or committed to any one path. There are so many different possible avenues to travel down and directions that my life could take. I hope to explore a number of different avenues in a number of different places around the world before settling into anything. So, I guess I am most excited just to discover which of these directions will pan out.
How and where do you find inspiration to do your craft?
I find inspiration to write everywhere – in nature, film, literature, world events, and my personal life and experiences, such as my relationship with my family, friends, and God. For me, the right ambience in the creative space is also very important in the creative process. If I am not comfortable in the space I’m in, I find that my imagination seems stifled, inspiration seems lacking, and the writing does not flow as easily. For this reason, I enjoy writing in the privacy of my bedroom, with a cup of tea and a candle burning.
What advice would you give those who want to do what you do?
I don’t know that I’m in a position to give advice to other writers. I myself am still a student, and this short story is my first published piece of work. One thing I struggle with is sharing my writing, for fear of how others may perceive it or respond to it. Before I submitted ‘Belly’s Bakery,’ I shared it with only a tiny group of trusted people, who then encouraged me to send it in to share with a wider audience. Without their confidence in my work and their approval, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to send it in. Overcoming that fear of failure and public perception is something I am still working on. So I guess my advice to others would be to also do your best to fight against this fear – try to make your own opinion of your work the one that counts.
Where can people see more of you and your work?
This is my only published piece (for now) and can be seen exclusively in Lucent Dreaming!
Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine publishing beautiful, imaginative and surreal short stories, poetry and artwork from emerging authors and artists worldwide. Our aim is to encourage creativity and to help writers reach publication! Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.