Joe Fenn has reviewed and critiqued for The Double Negative, Manchester Literature Festival, and the Portico Library, and is pursuing his MA in creative nonfiction with the Manchester Writing School. His piece, ‘Notes by a Quitter’ can be found in EPOCH Issue 01: Beginnings, available to purchase here.
Where do you find inspiration?
I like to seek out theoretical questions in day-to-day realities. I have a degree in philosophy, but I often find the academic field (at least in the analytic tradition – but that’s another fish-kettle) dry and detached, and I have struggled to truly engage with many of the questions asked until I apply them to something more tangible. In my piece with Epoch, for example, I explore questions of autonomy and agency through my experience of the process of quitting smoking. When I’ve been thinking about a concrete subject for a while and find I’m naturally moving onto more abstract questions, I know I’m onto something that will hold my interest and that I will enjoy writing about.
Why do you write/create Creative Non-Fiction?
My creative non-fiction is the product of a lifelong habit of jotting down notes. Writing my thoughts down has always been part of how I process my life. Eventually, turning those scraps into more coherent articles came as naturally (if nowhere near as easily) as the notes themselves. It’s also a fantastic time to be in CNF. The genre is currently perhaps the most dynamic in literature, with new branches sprouting all the time: Place writing has only really come to be recognised as a genre over the past five or so years, the new nature writing is not much older. Whatever we see over the coming decades, I want to be a part of it.
What are you reading now?
I’m focussing my reading this year on essays, so I have a few collections on the go at the same time. I’m currently dividing my attention between David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son and Esmé Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias.
Where can we follow you and find your work?