Interview with Scott Thomas Outlar
Q: When did you start writing?
A: Ye gods! It was such a long time ago that the memories tend to swirl together as a distant, blurred fog. The visions become hazy when I send the neurons back in search of the initial genesis point. But, what the hell, I might as well take a crack at it anyway, eh? I remember sticky, viscous fluids and the foul stench of blood. Despite such hazardous rooming conditions, there was a certain sense of peace that resonated within my spirit at the time. Life was much simpler in those days…every need was provided right at my fingertips. That’s it! It must have been around week ten or so when my fingers finally became flexible enough to get down to the business of creating art. In the beginning, it was basically a combination of writing and painting paired together. As I mentioned, the details are sketchy, but from what I can recall, I laced my fingertips in blood (or maybe Mom had just had extra ketchup on her burger that day) and started writing on the walls of the womb. It was a strange form of hieroglyphics that, more than likely, could not be easily deciphered even with modern technology being what it is today. Some people might even argue that those primitive scribblings were pure gibberish. But I say, NAY! There was definitely a solid point being made at the time. I’m damned sure of it. The first sentences went something along these lines: “Get me the hell out of this place! There is a Renaissance Revolution afoot!” I was obviously quite eager to join the fray even at such an early age.
Q: Who are your biggest inspirations/your favorite writers?
A: Well, the list is long, as I’m sure is the case for most artists/writers. When it comes to the written word, scribes such as Hunter S. Thompson, Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, Hermann Hesse, Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Joe Casey, Jim Starlin, Roger Zelazny, and Friedrich Nietzsche rank up near the top. Maynard James Keenan, Eddie Vedder, Daniel Johns, Kurt Cobain, and Brandon Boyd are a handful of musicians whose lyrics have sent my mind swirling through the years. Honestly, these days I’m nearly completely consumed by contemporary poetry, but I won’t start listing names here because I’d likely leave off dozens of people whose work I admire…and then I’d feel like a royal jerk. However, if you check out this Blogs Page at my site 17Numa you can find links to the websites, archives, and publications of many such folks who inspire me on a regular basis.
Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?
A: Sweet Jesus, that’s a hard answer to nail down because, truthfully, the compulsion to bleed ink never seems to fade throughout the day. I keep a pen and paper with me at all times should inspiration happen to strike at any given moment. Sometimes I’ll wake up first thing in the morning and kick things off immediately by writing down my dreams (this, of course, is predicated upon remembering such imagery…which can sometimes be a tall order depending upon the previous night’s activities). I enjoy walking up to the local park each afternoon where I’ll hammer out a poem or two in the woods. This is probably the closest thing to an official routine that I have. We all have our habits, I suppose. Writing happens to be the healthiest of mine. The others, in all fairness, while perhaps not being good for the internal organs, do still tend to help the words pour forth. I won’t go into the specific details here. It just wouldn’t be prudent. It’s important, after all, to leave some things up to the reader’s own imagination.
Q: Why do you write?
A: I noticed that not many other people tend to participate in such an activity. There seemed to be a vacuous void crying out to be filled. I just can’t explain why the craft hasn’t quite caught on with the masses yet. I jest, of course. The market is obviously saturated to the point of rupturing in an explosion that would rival the Big Bang. Maybe that’s the key right there. Much of life bores me to tears, so I’ve always enjoyed a good challenge to make the experience a bit more exciting. Trying to have one’s voice heard amongst a crowd of millions seemed like a course of action that was right up my alley. Now, with all that being said, let me offer the politically correct, canned response that one is supposed to give: I write because my soul demands it. It’s a natural urge that is born deep in the fiery abyss of my bowels. I just wouldn’t know what to do with myself otherwise. Writing is the expression of my truest, most unique, special snowflake self.
Q: Do you have any favorite quotes from writers?
A: I do, indeed. Depending on my mood, I could answer this question in a hundred different ways. Here are a few that come to mind in this particular moment:
Hunter S. Thompson from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” –
“All energy flows according to the whims of the great Magnet. What a fool I was to defy him.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky in the opening lines from “Notes from Underground” –
“I am a sick man…I am a spiteful man.”
Joseph Campbell –
“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
Friedrich Nietzsche from “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” –
“But the poets lie too much.”
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give new/aspiring writers?
A: Be true to your own inner compass. Don’t rely on the praise or adulation of other people to determine the worth of your writing. Be inspired by and learn from those figures who you draw inspiration from, but do not mimic their style or voice to the point where you lose all sense of originality. Such a course of action is tacky and gross. Rejection is part of the process. Be prepared to stand back up and steel your will with a steady resolve each and every time you get knocked down. Editors are not out to get you. Their job is difficult (I’m learning this first hand more and more as I get deeper into such efforts myself). If your work isn’t a fit in one particular venue, it doesn’t mean it might not be a perfect match elsewhere. Research and know the markets you’re submitting to so you aren’t wasting anyone’s time, including your own. If your work does happen to get rejected, understand that it isn’t a personal attack against you (well, in all honesty, sometimes it might be…but this usually won’t happen until later on down the line after you’ve ruffled enough feathers to become considered “problematic” in certain circles because of your provocative nature). Read as much as you possibly can…and when you’re not reading, write, write, and write some more. Keep your eyes on the prize and stay committed to your craft for the long haul. That was obviously more than one piece of advice. Admittedly, I’ve never been good at playing by the rules.
Q: Do you have any published books/chapbooks you’d like to talk about?
A: My most recent chapbook “Songs of a Dissident” was released in December of 2015 through Transcendent Zero Press and is now available on Amazon. The work was recently described thusly by Sunil Sharma in a review he published in Tuck Magazine:
“Building a reputation of a young dissident through his widely-published poems, Scott challenges the lies and questions the official version with the probity of a seasoned lawyer or journalist. Very few poets these days do this job of a compassionate dissident, critical of the power structures and other dominants. The State, of course, is wary of such a hatchet job. But Scott does not care; he willfully takes on the system in his poetry. His sole concern is revealing the truth behind government-speak and deceptions being circulated in the name of administration and governance, supported by the mass media.”
I’m also very excited about two forthcoming poetry collections that are in the works. “Chaos Songs” (Longsword Press) is scheduled for a May 2016 release; and “Happy Hour Hallelujah” (CTU Publishing) is set to be released later in the year. More information about both projects will be coming soon.
Anyone interested in finding out more about my work can visit 17Numa where links to all my published poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews can be found. With that, I’d like to close things out by saying thank you, Adam, for providing this platform where I could ramble for awhile. What you’ve been doing for the literary community of late with all your hard work is very much appreciated. Selah