Bio: Rodge Glass is the author of three novels, two graphic novels, a collection of short stories and a biography of the Glaswegian writer and visual artist Alasdair Gray, which won a Somerset Maugham Award for Nonfiction. His fiction has been nominated for numerous awards including the Dylan Thomas Prize and his various fictions translated into languages such as Italian and Serbian. He is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde and the Convener of the MLitt in Creative Writing there. He is currently working on a book of creative nonfiction, Things Have Changed: Essays on Doubt. ‘On Waves’ is intended to be the opening chapter of that book. You can find Rodge’s piece ‘On Waves’ in Epoch Issue 4, Transitions. Rodge can be found on Twitter.
1. ‘Transitions’ is such an evocative theme, what compelled you to submit for this issue?
In writing the piece I submitted, I hadn’t originally thought of it as being about a transition, but on seeing the call I realised that the book I hope this will be the first essay from is really all about transitions, from a kind of denial, first to acceptance, then to wanting to do something pro-active. This piece is the start of that transition, so it seemed natural to send it in. In the years since my nephew Joshua died from the blood condition we share, HHT, I’ve often felt helpless or just unable to shift my position at all. I didn’t feel like any kind of transition was possible away from frustration and grief and survivor’s guilt. But writing these essays about Joshua and about my HHT have in themselves helped me start that process. ‘On Waves’ represents the beginning of that. I hope readers get something from it.
2. Do you have a routine for writing? If so, what is it and how has it evolved?
My writing routine is pretty much to steal any moment I can. It’s often best when I get a full day or few days to concentrate fully, but the nature of my job, which is mostly about facilitating and encouraging others in their writing, sometimes makes that a challenge. Also, I have two young daughters, so I don’t have the time I used to. But it does mean that whenever I get to the page, I don’t ever feel blocked, I’m just happy and grateful to be writing. And out it comes.
3. Do you find that CNF comes easy to you as a writer and/or what is challenging about it?
It’s funny, I started out only wanting to be a novelist, and I’ve published three novels, a collection of short stories, other various fictions. But it’s by CNF book I’m best known for, a playful, interrogative, personal biography of the great Glaswegian literary and visual artist Alasdair Gray. Since then I’ve wanted to return to it, but not known how. This idea of writing about my relationship with the nephew I never met, who died on the day he was born, has been a relief and yes, in a way easier, though it’s also harder because I feel a responsibility to Joshua and his parents, who I’ve been sharing my essays with as I go. I think I find it doable when I know where I’m going with a project, and this one, I know, will end with a single essay that’s also a biography in brief of someone whose life was short, but has had a big impact on me and on how I see the world.
4. What is song is on repeat for you right now?
I’m a huge music nerd, I always listen while I write, and I love all sorts. There’s lots of African music on repeat just now, the new Jupiter & Okwess album in particular. I love Sons of Kemet, their ‘Hustle’ is a real favourite. I’m also listening to Little Simz on repeat, especially ‘Fear No Man’.