Lana Pesch is a Canadian writer and video producer born in a small town in Saskatchewan, who is now living in the thriving, ever-growing city of Toronto. Her debut story collection, Moving Parts, was released this October, becoming her first published novel to date.
In an exclusive in-class interview at Ryerson University, Lana Pesch sat down with a class of journalism students and raised the subject of her newly released novel, as well as her newfound confidence and trusting in one’s own writing abilities. The questions asked by the class are set in italics for clarity.
Was there a particular point in your life where you realized that you wanted to be a writer?
Lana Pesch: I would say probably within the last 10 years. I’ve written for longer than that in various capacities for my work and in theatre and I’ve always liked that. I wrote a couple of screen plays and I wrote some projects for radio and stage plays as well, but this I started taking seriously—I can pinpoint it in 2008.
What was it that happened in 2008?
L.P.: It was a class with Sarah Selecky. I was writing and I wasn’t really taking any classes. I got it in my head that I’m going to write a novel. I had this great idea, I sketched it out and tried writing it. I had some friends who were writers and we got together all the time and critiqued it a little bit and then it just got stuck – it was frozen and nothing was happening. Then, I accidentally found Sarah Selecky’s class from a news letter that I had received and took her one class which led to more classes, which led to other institutions, which led to more writing—so that was the moment.
You’ve compared writing to skydiving, emphasizing the importance of trust and courage. What do you think are the parallels there?
L.P.: I’m much more comfortable jumping out of an aircraft than even standing up in front of audiences. I’m getting better and I’m probably one of my worst critics. Trust in your own ability. That’s what writing is too. When I was a TA I couldn’t believe how repetitive I sounded where I thought, ‘just go for it, don’t worry about getting it right. Just write and don’t worry about it. Trust yourself that you can do it.’ I think once you can actually do that- silence- I don’t know if you ever silence the inner critic, but you squash it as much as you can.
Your novel, Moving Parts, pulls back the curtain on what it means to be human. What does being human mean to you?
L.P.: I think primarily the flaws and the failures and what is learned by failing because to me, I’ve failed numerous times repeatedly and keep doing so and I think it’s really healthy. I think a lot of people see failing as a bad thing but I really don’t. I don’t often think things all the way through, it’s who I am. I do like the attitude of, ‘well let’s see what happens.’ Just being curious about everything and questioning it.
What are some of the changes you’ve noticed from your writing and the way it has evolved today?
L.P.: I think there is more confidence. I think the confidence does grow and I find myself preaching that to people. I like to read something kind of forceful. I find there’s pieces of writing that the author is so in control of their subject, their words and their language, that I feel completely okay with being there and enjoyable and engaged. And that’s what I would like for people to feel about me. That’s a goal.