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Q&A with Jeaux Bartlett

Jeaux Bartlett is a multifaceted enigma. Throughout their meandering life, Jeaux has learned a lot about a lot of things–find out why they like sharing that knowledge with others.

Where are you from/where did you grow up?

Throughout my life, I haven’t known how to answer this question. 

I was born in England, lived there for ten years, then moved to Barbados with my French mother, leaving an older brother and baby sister behind, along with my dad and stepmother (and everything I’d ever known). 

We lived in Barbados for four years, then moved to Florida, where I went to high school and years of college. 

Then I ended up in the North Carolina mountains for several years, back to Florida for a few months, then to upstate New York where I survived nine bitter winters before moving to Eugene, Oregon in 2009.

I have yet to grow up, so I guess I’m doing the rest of that in Eugene. 🙂

What are your hobbies and passions (other than writing)?

I love many things and tend to get in-depth in my hobbies.

For example, I don’t just enjoy knitting. I taught myself to spin yarn from roving. Then to dye the yarn and, most recently, to use natural dyes. If we had enough room in the garden, I’d probably try keeping a sheep.

I’ve been playing with making paper and weaving baskets the last couple of years as well.

Gardening is also a deeply-loved hobby. I’ve had a vegetable garden wherever I’ve lived since I was an adult–even if that meant building raised beds out of discarded pallets on a balcony (and carrying all that soil up a flight of stairs).

What’s the earliest thing you remember writing?

As a kid, around age eight or nine, I kept trying to write my autobiography. It always began, “It was a rainy, grey Saturday morning when I was born.” But I’d quickly get stuck and not know what to write. 

I also enjoyed making my own magazines and created several different iterations over the years–each a blend of fiction and nonfiction.

What’s your favorite kind of chocolate?

Dark chocolate with fruit and nuts.

What’s the most challenging part of writing for you—plotting, drafting, editing, marketing, etc.?

Yes.

They’re each challenging in their own ways. I enjoy some plotting, but getting too granular takes the joy out of finding the story for me. Drafting is great, except some part of me still wants my first drafts to be perfect. (I blame writing on tight deadlines as a journalist. First drafts often went to print.) Editing is torturous fun. It’s fun when I feel like I know where I’m going and have enough distance–either time or emotional–to see what needs to be done for the sake of the story. Torture when I don’t.

Marketing can be a good time, or it can be something I drag my heels on.

How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired as a person in the creative arts?

I’ve learned to let myself do what I want, to let myself play and experiment, without knowing how it’s going to turn out. My current work in progress is a result of giving myself the freedom to try things.

Do you like to re-read books or are you a one-and-done kind of reader?

I’ll very occasionally re-read books. Mostly those are books from my childhood, that I don’t fully recall but remember I truly enjoyed at the time. It’s cool to re-read those and rediscover what I loved about them.

I’ll re-read Martha Well’s murderbot books at times–especially by listening to the audiobooks. They’re a comfort read. And I just re-read the audiobook for A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews because it moved me so much that I had to spend more time with the main character.

Got any writing superstitions or quirky rituals?

I used to believe I could only write in the morning. But then a writer friend and I met up for a writing session over dinner and it went really well. Which is annoying because now I have fewer excuses to not write.

Are grammar rules meant to be broken, bent, or followed to a T?

If you’re consistent about it–and do it with conviction–you can do just about anything.

How do your life experiences shape the way you teach?

As a neurodivergent, transgender immigrant living with a delightful grab bag of disabling conditions, I know what it’s like to be othered. 

Writing can be a way of healing. And you can only heal when you feel safe. So it’s important my students feel safe with me, that they feel seen, and their needs are met to the extent possible. 

Are you a coffee or tea person while grading assignments?

There is no grading! Gold stars for everyone! Tea, though.

What do you love most about teaching?

I adore imparting knowledge and resources to my students, to help them feel empowered and confident. 

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