Carl Scharwath, has appeared globally with 150+ journals selecting his poetry, short stories, interviews, essays, plays or art photography (His photography was featured on the cover of 6 journals.) Two poetry books 'Journey To Become Forgotten' (Kind of a Hurricane Press), and 'Abandoned' (ScarsTv) have been published. His first photography book was recently published by Praxis. Carl is the art editor for Minute Magazine, a competitive runner and 2nd degree black- belt in Taekwondo.
Interview with Carl Scharwath
TTJ: What inspired you to start writing?
Carl: I was blessed to manage my daughters all girl punk rock band. She loved to go to concerts so one night on the way to a concert together we were greeted by the sickening smell of burning rubber. Up ahead an SUV was on its side with 4 people needing help. I told my daughter to wait in the car and with another motorist we rushed to pull the family from the vehicle. The next day I wrote my first poem “Accidents of Life,” which was published after a few submissions. From that day forward I became a writer. As a manager for my daughter’s band I also learned how to market and promote myself as an artist
TTJ: When did you start writing?
Carl: I began writing over 13 years ago concentrating on poetry. As my writing journey progressed, I started to also write short stories, essays, plays and have done interviews for both running and literary journals.
TTJ: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Carl: I have not. I loved to paint in oils while in college and gave that up after I graduated and began my career. Sadly, art left my life for 30 years, but I was always a reader of the classics and consistently read every day for at least 1 hour.
TTJ: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Carl: An airplane pilot and this is still my dream. In a few years I would love to begin the process to obtain my Sport Pilot’s license.
TTJ: What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Carl: Read, read, read and practice constantly. Reach out to other writers for help and motivation. Join a writer’s group in your town or start one. I love Facebook for meeting other writers and encouraging each other. Finally step out of your comfort zone and read one of your poems at a public reading.
TTJ: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Carl: Yes, I believe you should never force yourself. The poem comes subconsciously . I could be driving, out on a run or simply going about my day to day life and maybe just one line will come to me. I can then build a poem around that line or an idea. Writing poems are enjoyable and never stressful, however when I write a short story, I do struggle. They never seem to be finished and the editing process happens over and over. So, happiness comes when they are finally completed.
TTJ: How do you handle writer’s block?
Carl: The answer is do not continue. Take a break and continue the next day. I am a competitive runner and once I run the ideas come to me. So, when block comes read, take a walk, call a friend or sleep on it.
TTJ: Describe your writing space.
Carl: I am old school, I have a tablet, my phone and a laptop that could be used for writing, but I prefer sitting at my desk and typing on a desktop. Of course, I am surrounded by all my books and photos of my grandchildren.
TTJ: What is the most difficult part about writing for you? What do you love most about the writing process?
Carl: The idea. That is the most difficult part. What is the story or poem about? What theme do you want to present in the poem? After that, the writing takes care of itself in my opinion. I love when the writing becomes seamless and the ideas flow. The best time to write for me is the early mornings. You then have the feeling of accomplishment that lasts the entire day.
TTJ: What does success mean to you?
Carl: At this stage I have more satisfaction helping others. I am the art editor for Minute Magazine, so I really enjoy being on the other side and reviewing the work of others and helping them. As a published photographer either I have reached out to other poets or they have come to me to write poems based on my photography. I am then happy to submit our collaborations for publication. I have helped over 15 international poets to be published and some for the first time with these poem/photo collaborations.
I have been published in over 150 journals, have 2 poetry books and one photography book published so I am happy with what I have accomplished. My dream would be to have a story or poem in The New Yorker magazine or to be able to produce my published play live on the stage and to have one of my photography pieces in a museum.
TTJ: How do you handle literary criticism?
Carl: This question can be answered simply by one of my favorite poets Sylvia Plath and her quote “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” Any criticism is good because it meant they read your work, right?
TTJ: What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?
Carl: My favorite part was when recently an editor did not reject my story but gave me some advice on edits to make the story better and gave me a chance to submit again. Upon my 2nd try there was still more suggestions. On the 3rd attempt the story was accepted for publication. The editor could have just rejected me and been done with it, instead he saw promise and worked with me and presented a great learning opportunity I will always be grateful and will never forget this one experience, nor the editor.
My least favorite part is when you submit and do not hear anything back at all. As an editor myself I would never do this to an artist who took the time to submit.
TTJ: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
Carl: I am currently working on a poetry anthology with members of my writing group and some other local writers. I will then schedule a book launch event with readings for our community. This will be so much fun to have a group to promote and work with for future readings. We will also give back to the community by visiting nursing homes and bringing art to the seniors, whenever this virus is ever finished.
TTJ: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Carl: From my running. When out on a run ideas and lines for poems always come to me. The run becomes a mediation of art, thoughts, and concepts. Many times, when I get home after a run, I do forget that great line I smiled at in my run. Perhaps I should record ideas when I run? Wait that would be a bad idea.
TTJ: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing? And why?
Carl: Herman Hesse, Shirley Jackson, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and J.G. Ballard for fiction, Sylvia Plath, Harte Crane and Wallace Stevens for poetry and Man Ray and Lee Miller for photography. I love Ballard for his amazing story ideas and Herman Hesse for the German philosophy that I try and replicate in my poetry.
TTJ: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Carl: No, I have not, I am already unknown. (smile)
TTJ: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Carl: Well that would be the first time you fell in love and the beautiful words you could say to each other about your feelings.
TTJ: What made you want to become a writer?
Carl: My love of reading, the joy I get with books naturally transcends into the need to write eventually.
TTJ: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Carl: I love spending time with my two grandchildren, running, photography, travel, helping others and enjoying life in my new retirement.
TTJ: You are a published photographer. What type of photographer are you?
Carl: I use photography as a means of self-expression. The most important quality of a photograph, as in all of art, is to evoke an emotional response. I prefer to capture surrealistic moments when I can, the play of light and colors and unusual situations as they unfold. As a passionate runner, being aware of my surroundings tends to produce some surprise scenes instead of forcing an image of time with my camera. My goal before I take a photo is what story can this tell? Currently I have been concentrating on collaborations with other poets who interpret my photos with their powerful words creating an art form that compliments each other.
TTJ: Whose work has influenced you most?
Carl: Man Ray and Lee Miller. They met in Paris and worked together on Man’s art while he taught her photography. Here is an amazing story, Lee was developing some of Man’s photography in the dark room and felt a mouse at her feet. She opened the door to see and realized she ruined the negatives. But no, she helped discover Solarization a new technique that became innovative in photography. Many times, I have made a mistake and then on second review the photo captured scenes I did not know were there.
TTJ: Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Carl: My favorite is one of my first “Abandoned.” My friend Jenny Link (who sadly passed a few years ago) suggested I try photography as another art. This was one of my first photos and still my favorite and in some ways the photo I can never top. The photo was published 4 times and on two covers and Jenny is my guiding light in photography.
TTJ: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Carl: That I should have started earlier.
TTJ: Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
Carl: I have a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo, just had my first photography book published and am an active trader in the stock market every morning.
TTJ: What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?
Carl: New York City, love the culture, museums and vibrant activity.
TTJ: Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
Carl: Maybe not hidden, but after running for 40 years and still able to run and compete at 66 years old I am grateful to God and will continue in this passion for as long as I can. Thank you so much for this opportunity and interview.