At home with Ronnie Scott

Ronnie Scott is a novelist, editor, critic and comic specialist. He published the Penguin Special Salad Days in 2014 and released The Adversary, his first novel, in 2020. In this interview, Ronnie unpicks the idea of writing craft using the example of how he wrote The Adversary.

Ronnie lectures at RMIT University and has edited several anthologies. His short works are published in everything from major news outlets to independent journals.

And apologies for the sound quality, we recorded this interview remotely in May 2020.

Ronnie Scott_The Garret Podcast


ASTRID: Ronnie Scott is a novelist, editor, critic and comic specialist. He lectures at RMIT University and manages the Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing), has edited several anthologies and his short works feature in publications ranging from major news outlets to independent journals. Ronnie's longer works include the Penguin Special, Salad Days, and in 2020, he has released his first novel, The Adversary.

Ronnie, welcome.

RONNIE: Hi. Thanks for having me.

ASTRID: Now, you are joining me via Zoom. But most importantly, I think we need to start with a disclosure. You and I are colleagues of a sort. I am not part of the Bachelor of Creative Writing at RMIT, but we are both lectures at RMIT and we work in the Writing Cluster there together. How are you at home in this age of social isolation?

RONNIE: I am quite good, actually. I mean, I am probably good in the slightly grimy way that everyone is. Well, no, not everyone is even quite good in that way.

ASTRID: Today, I would like to talk to you about the writing and publishing scene. You have been embedded in that part of Melbourne for well over a decade now. And I specifically want to talk to you about the craft of writing and the craft of writing as it relates to The Adversary, which is your new novel. How does that sound?

RONNIE: Yes. Very cool. Thank-you.

ASTRID: You have been both teaching and working on your own creative works from home for a couple of months now, Ronnie. To start with, how is your home office set up and how does that relate to your personal works as well as teaching?

RONNIE: Well, I live in a really small apartment and I live in it by myself. And so, my work life and my home life can sort of smoosh into each other very easily, which can be a good thing or can be a bad thing. I try to not multi-purpose my spaces. I have one table, which I use for eating and for doing my writing and for doing my Zooms, but I try to do them from different sections of the table. So, you can be in control of your own space that way. I think with working from home through this current situation... I think that if anything, it reminds me of when I first started out freelancing and doing lots of different bits of academic work and bits of everything work and bits of writing work as well as trying to push along different creative projects.

And I think that at that point in my life, I was extremely good at parcelling up time. I was dating a lawyer at the time and he... Lawyers have to divide up their days into billable increments of 15 minutes and I found that really inspiring and a great way to manage a freelance career. And I lost that the more, I guess, institutionalised I got. And the more I went from sessional teaching to part-time contract teaching to full-time academic life, where you do... It's a very autonomous career, but it's also one where you do have different kind of trappings and structures of work-life that guide and shape your day a little bit. And I think that I've regressed to something that feels, not teenagerly, but definitely early twenties-ish with my work habits. It takes a little bit more self-direction, which is not a bad thing.

ASTRID: Self-direction is a fantastic thing for a creative. I have to say, Ronnie, you are the first person to ever say you found the idea of billing in 15-minute blocks inspiring, hats off to you. I used to be a consultant, I never found it fun. But I'm very well aware that I'm asking you while we are still working from home and we are still in quite significant social isolation imposed on us. What are you noticing from your fellow writers and your students in terms of the impact COVID-19 and the disaster that is 2020, on the creative life and on the stories that may be being written right now?

RONNIE: It's interesting. I think that there are different subgenres of impact. I think that there are very, very practical ones like someone who I work with at RMIT as well has been writing a novel for a couple of years. It's about travel, and it's also set in Italy and he's having to make very substantial decisions about whether he's going to encompass this current crisis, or if he's going to just set it in 2014 or something like that. And I think that lots of people have these practical considerations that had to do with plot, but also to do with the kinds of things that people... The ways that people think about travel and place. And I reckon that even if you change that story so that it takes place in 2014, the things that you are not mentioning in the story, they become an absent presence. They still become an influence on the way that story is read. They become meaningful for not being said. And so, there are things like that.

There are things like just how difficult it is to get anything meaningful done in a state of low-grade constant anxiety, which I guess a lot of people have and which I have. I've found that I've blown some deadlines. And I think that there are deadlines that I will not go back and not blown, even if I've got an extension on them. I think that I'm having a lot of trouble doing that... You wanted to ask about craft. Doing that high-level decision making that you do in the last stages of a piece of writing where things have to make sense. So, they have to be clear or they have to reflect a cohesive intention. I'm not very good at that at the moment.

But the thing that I can do, is shovel a creative project along. Before I published The Adversary in April, I had a hope and a plan, which was to be neck deep in something else. So that whatever happened with The Adversary, I would take it a bit less personally, and I would feel it a bit less intensely. I guess, publishing a first novel, even if you've been writing for a long time, it still is potentially an intense experience or an experience that makes you feel vulnerable and I wanted to protect myself from that. And of course, it doesn't protect you from feeling vulnerable. You'd feel vulnerable and exposed anyway.

But I did succeed in starting another project where I can just do little bits of that from day to day and that doesn't have to be good. It doesn't have to make sense. And I've been able to do that during COVID. But if I was trying to finish articles or short stories or do the final passes on a novel, I would find that really tough, because I just can't think that clearly.

ASTRID: I referred to you as a comic specialist before, and that is fascinating to me because I adore the graphic novel form and have never really spoken to an academic about it. It's just a personal pleasure of mine. But I'm thinking about all the different writing mediums that are published out there. Comics, graphic novels, but short stories, nonfiction, fiction, the whole deal, poetry. Do you think that any of them will I guess, start to be published earlier than others? A novel is a multi-year project, short stories do often take a shorter time to find an audience or be published. What creative works will start to reflect on lockdown COVID-19 pandemic, the anxiety that now exists in our lives first?

RONNIE: Well, I think that it's probably a great time to be a podcaster. I think that we just have this appetite for voice, I think for human voice, that we just don't get in a casual way when we're in isolation. I'm listening to so many more podcasts and I'm listening to them in ways that I didn't listen to them before. Where I would listen to them at the gym or public transport or walking around. And now a podcast is something that I'll have on in the background while I'm doing admin or cleaning or cooking. And I think that probably a lot of people's relationships to the audio medium are changing. I don't know if you found that with The Garret and with Anonymous Was A Woman and other podcasting projects that you've been doing?

ASTRID: Absolutely. Because people's habits have changed. I used to walk to RMIT. Clearly I am not going to RMIT because we are not allowed in our workplace. And so, I listen while I'm doing the cleaning or... It's become my TV in the background, which it wasn't before, but we're all at home now. It's such a different world, Ronnie. We're both looking at each other thinking, ‘Oh, what is 2020?’ Now you teach writing. And now that I have actually looked up your academic profile, which Ronnie, I admit I hadn't done before. You teach a subject specifically on craft. I want you to talk me through craft as it relates to The Adversary, your first novel. And my first question is, are you a plotter or a pantser? Does structure matter to you?

RONNIE: I love that question. I think that yes, structure matters to me. And I think that what I had so much trouble with in The Adversary was that sort of a push-pull relationship between the two. And I think that I admire plotters. I love the idea of writing a schematic and basically filling it out and I've always wanted to do that. I desperately wanted to do that with my next project. What I'm trying to do is to break it into 10 parts that are 5 or 6,000 words each. And to know what's going to happen in them and to get out of them in time and not have detours. And I guess probably like old people who desperately love this idea. It's completely antithetical to the way that I actually think or work, and that's why it's attractive and interesting. I think that I need to write to find out what I think about something. I guess a lot of writers report that though, but also a lot of writers I think can do that. Well, this is my grass is greener fantasy.

I think that sometimes writers can do that, write to find out what they think. But also mix and match that with slightly more abstract or conceptual thinking than I feel able to do. I often find that I have to write something pretty long and sort of get through it and see it through and then sit back and consider it and think, ‘Well, what did I really want to say? What was the real point of that?’ And then there's just a lot of...

There's a young adult writer I know from Melbourne named Kirsty Murray who's really great. Who's actually a graduate of the RMIT. And she has a saying that her daughter, Ruby Murray, who's also a novelist repeats all the time, which is that there are no magic underpants. There are no magic underpants.

And it's just that writing is labour-intensive no matter what. And I think that if you're a plotter, it would... I tell myself this whenever I think that being a plotter must be a better way to be. You would probably still have trial and error in a different way, or you'd have long moments of thinking and considering, and sketching things out that just aren't quite the same as mindlessly writing a sentence, which is how I end up sketching things out. I guess I'm basically a pantser. But I also always need to end a writing session with a few notes that are probably in all caps and they're a bit messy and they just tell me where I'm going the next day. And that helps me feel like I'm on track.

ASTRID: How do you feel about your writing in progress? Your work in progress is always so important. So in a novel like The Adversary, it's about 250 pages. So most definitely a novel, but also on the shorter end of the novel form. Given that you are a writer who writes to find out what you're thinking, how much did you end up writing and taking out?

RONNIE: It was a lot. Word counts are so strange. I think that it was always around 50,000 words. It's a short book, it's about 50,000 words. But it was really different a lot of the time. It started out as a bunch of linked stories, which we had different voices and characters. And this was late 2013 that I wrote that set of stories. And eventually, picked one and to use that to explore some of the non-abandoned themes and the other linked stories. And from there, I still had all of those linked stories there in the document because you're always grabbing sentences that you like or images that you like and seeing if you can use that to get yourself through the next scene.

So, you're absorbing the things that you've abandoned. And then I had a whole novel and that whole novel had three characters. The Adversary as published, has a really limited scope with six characters. But I started off with three and then I just finished that and was, ‘You know what this needs? This needs another character’. I added a fourth character and wrote a version of the novel that worked with four characters. And then I was, ‘Ah, I think I need five or six’. It was always very much like finishing it off and then stepping back and then also using your community. I had a lot of readers over the years who gave me great feedback and then going back to the drawing board and using the document that you have, but using it as a draft or something. So there was a lot of rewriting. And I think that that makes it hard to say exactly what was cut out because you're always writing over your own words a little bit when you're editing yourself and also thinking about whether what you have written can be used in some way.

ASTRID: We've touched on structure, The Adversary has a very clear three-part structure. I always read the acknowledgements that someone publishes in a book, Ronnie. And in your acknowledgements, you actually thank Cate Blake, who is an editor, and you write – and I'm quoting from your acknowledgements here – you thank her for acquiring it and breaking down its structure. So, what did the editing process bring to how the reader ultimately experiences The Adversary?

RONNIE: Thank you. Cate Blake was the editor who acquired the book and she actually left the publishing house and went to another job when we were halfway through the editing process. But the gift that she left the book with, was this amazing structural breakdown. And I think that it was already in three-acts at that point. I actually think that my agent is the one who broke it down into three-acts, which was really useful. Because I just had this mess of moods and atmospheres and scenes and things like that. And I think that the best thing that you could often do for a story, is to divide it really clearly into three-acts. I think there's a reason that people do that and that worked well for The Adversary.

But what Kate did, was she asked questions like, ‘What does the character want? What does the character not know about where he's at in the story at the moment?’ Her big thing, and the thing that was really tough, but that she was getting me to do with the structural edit was because... Sorry, I should say it's a first-person voice. And it's a pretty voicey story. He's 2021 in his head. You have a very, very limited point of view as well as a limited range in time and a limited set of scenes. And she just said, ‘Well, you need a way for the reader to see outside of that and to be carried along by that and feel like they have this intimate relationship with the character. But also, to feel like there's some sort of authorial presence that's separate from that character and to feel like there's a bit of world outside of that voice’. And that was the thing that she asked me to do in the structural edit.

It's almost like you need to give the voice less self-awareness. You need to give the character a chance to mess up and you need to trust the reader to be, ‘Ah, I don't know about that decision’. Or, ‘I don't know if I trust your perspective on what's just happened and what you've just told me’. And to know that there'll be some sort of resolution to this idea that brings the character's voice more in line with what the author wants you to feel or think. That's the thing that she really was looking at I think, when she was doing her structural edit. Was how to give it that sort of extra between the lines dimension. And there was a lot more experimenting to get there.

ASTRID: You brought up voice which is where I was going next, Ronnie. It's a single point of view as you've mentioned. How does voice and to a lesser extent, point of view, relate to character and character development?

RONNIE: Briefly you asked about comics before and I'm a comics researcher but I'm not a comics maker. But I was talking to a comics maker the other day, who I am on a comics research project with, and he'd just read the book. And he said that he really enjoyed how visual some of the scenes were. And I think that I like a first-person voice because it helps. Because a lot of what you're doing in a first-person voice, it's like you've given your reader a little set of eyes and they go out into the world and they see things and they describe them, and they report them back. They bring them back to the reader. And I think that you can get away with a lot of reporting of thoughts and sensations and creating an atmosphere as long as you're also doing that almost journalistic nonfiction kind of work but in your fictional world where you're describing things visually.

And I think that the challenge with a first-person voice and point of view is setting a scene, but also making it feel like it's happening at the time, but also helping the reader feel like something is being interpreted because it's got to tell you something about the character. I don't know. I think that we've probably all read first-person voices where a character is changing their mind at the time that they're telling the story to you. At the time that you're experiencing their point of view. And it feels creepy. It's like, ‘Ah’. I think that the way that we change as human beings is less verbal than that. It's less like you see something in a room or you have a conversation with someone and it's, ‘Oh, maybe I was wrong about that’. Or ‘Maybe the world is a bit different than I thought it was’.

You're always thinking with that point of view about again, ‘What's going on underneath?’ Or ‘What's going on between the lines?’ And hopefully being able to communicate change in a story and change in perception as well, without making someone feel like they're just being squeezed through the sausage tube of a novel through someone's very close first-person voice. It's a weird one to work with, I think.

ASTRID: I found the novel incredibly enjoyable. And one of the things I noticed, Ronnie, is not just the story and the character who obviously we follow through The Adversary, but the sense of place. The novel itself takes place North of the river, Melbourne... North of the Yarra. Really close to Fitzroy, Brunswick, Collingwood, and that's where I live. That's where we both work. And I could recognise the place, not just when you mention a street name, which is a really obvious physical locator, but the feel of the suburb, the feel of the streets, what they look like, what they smell like, what it feels to inhabit this world. And I wanted to ask, how do you create that on the page?

RONNIE: Thank you. I liked writing about these areas where I've lived and which I have loved living in. I lived in Brunswick when I first moved to Melbourne and I live in Collingwood now and I go between those areas a lot. I think that you just have to not be afraid of being concrete and specific. I think that part of it for me was being able to write Sonsa Foods, which is a Middle Eastern Grocer on Smith Street in Collingwood and not have to say it's a Middle Eastern Grocer on Smith Street in Collingwood. Just be able to say, it's Sonsa Foods. And I think that when people read it, they might not get the exact atmosphere of that exact place, but they know that they have grocers in the places where they live and they can apply their own specific experiences to that.

I think that part of it is about letting go of actually creating what the place is like, and letting people fill it in with their own experiences. And it's amazing if it's read by someone who actually lives in those places. I think that that's the ideal situation. But I think that it's about allowing for other people's lives as well to go into those words. And you don't need to do that much evoking. You're talking about craft. The more evoking you do, sometimes I feel like the story just gets really hazy and gets really like a stew of adjectives or a stew of sensations that I think that the more concrete you can be with place, sometimes that works quite well.

ASTRID: I do live in this area and I found it amusing when the characters expressed a specific distaste of shopping at one of the two big supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths. And they're very obviously part of this area and the idea of finding alternative shopping, particularly as we have been trying to do that in this age of social isolation and shops being closed, it was quite the experience to read, Ronnie.

Now Ronnie, as we've discussed, you are a teacher. You have also edited anthologies. And yet you've just spent the last couple of minutes talking about how you had input from others. You had readers at various stages of The Adversary. You obviously had editors who changed your work, who evolved your work. And I guess that's my long-winded way of saying not even someone who has been working with words for a decade gets it right first time. There are multiple drafts, there's lots of input. I have come across students and emerging writers and I have no doubt, you have too. People don't like their work being edited. They don't necessarily like learning or being confronted with questions in workshopping of their writing. Can you explain to me why it's important for so many different points of view or so many different constructive criticisms to be made about your work to make it the best it can be?

RONNIE: Yeah. Awesome. You and I both deal with writers all the time in a workshopping environment. And I think that one of the most interesting turns that the writers make in those environments is... At first, when you go into a workshop, you think that the thing that's going to happen is that you'll get 10 or 12 other people, or 20 other people or whatever it is, fine tuning your work and making it really honed and sharp. But actually, I think what happens is that you get these conflicting ideas. And part of the training, part of what you get to do and have to do, is figuring out a way to sort that information out. And to think, ‘Okay, when this person says that paragraph three doesn't work, maybe what they're really speaking to is this underlying structural problem that this other person is talking about in a different way’. Or ‘Maybe they want it to be a different kind of piece and I have to...’

There's something meaningful in taking on criticism and seeing where it takes you. But there's also something meaningful in judging a particular piece of criticism and thinking, ‘Well, maybe this isn't right for me right now. But maybe I'll have it in the back of my head and it will influence something else that I write’. And I think that it's not like you go through a workshopping experience in a writing course and you do it a bunch of times and then you can take those skills yourself necessarily and apply them to your drafts. I think to an extent that's true, but it's partly training to work with editors and to work with friends and writers groups and to exchange drafts with people, which writers do their whole lives long, I think.

And every once in a while, you get a writer who says in an interview, like they're a famous and award-winning writer and they say in an interview, ‘I don't allow myself to be edited anymore’. And you can always tell. It's, ‘Yeah, I can see that. I can see that that person doesn't let themselves be edited. They could probably do with a good structural edit once in a while’. I think with The Adversary, I just had a good variety of responses over a bunch of years. And it was always really helpful. And sometimes what you need is a friend to send you a couple of paragraphs in an email saying, ‘Loved it, keep going. You're doing really well’. And it's validation. But one of the best edits that I have, was from someone who...

They weren't an obvious editor for my work. We weren't very close, but I had helped her with her book a few years beforehand. And she'd said, ‘Anytime you need the favour returned, go for it’. We work very different kinds of stuff. We had very different lives, and I didn't think it would really be her thing. But I said that I would just take advantage of anything that people offered, right? And call in favours.

And I sent her the book and we had coffee and talked about it and she did not like it. It was just not her thing at all. I don't think she liked the voice. I don't think that she liked the scope and the subject. And she gave me the best feedback. It was so good. We were friends, she was a kind person. She didn't say she didn't like it, but you could tell. But she was talking about the structure. And she was, ‘Oh why does...?’ She asked really tough questions that none of my other friends were asking. It was like, ‘Why would he do this? Why does that happen there? Wouldn't it be better if there you had the character realise something at the same time as the audience? Shouldn't that be the big turning point in the story?’ She was just so brutal and sceptical.

And I think that that would have been really hard if that was the only reader for the book. But then mixed with people who were encouraging and validating, I think that that was just such again, such a gift. And it was really respectable and also respectful feedback. It was, ‘Well, we're both working together to make this a better story. That's what you've asked me to do’. And I think that the more you can get that balance from different people... You never know where the exact right piece of feedback will come from. And that's why I think it's good to just expose your work to different environments and different readers before it's published.

ASTRID: And that's a tough thing to do. For anyone listening, it's not necessarily easy to expose your work or to encourage criticism. But of course, that makes it stronger in the end. Ronnie, I'd like to turn to comics as I alluded to before, I adore graphic novels. And as you are an academic in this area, a question just occurred to me. Is there a difference between the term comic and the term graphic novel?

RONNIE: Oh, cool. Yeah. I think that people spend papers and papers and chapters and chapters debating terminology for comics, which I kind of love. So graphic novels, people often use to refer to something longer. I mean, people talk about Maus as a pretty well-known and Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel. But it's not a novel, it's a memoir, a work of biography and history, but it still has no holistic qualities. And I think that it's a great representative of the idea of a graphic novel, because it's sort of ambitious and complex and has literary coding as well. Sometimes people like using comics rather than graphic novel, because it has less of a value distinction built into it. And I think that when you are talking about comics as a medium or as a cultural phenomenon, there are really distinct things between monthly superhero comics and something like Chris Ware or Nicki Greenberg or Mandy Ord, to use Australian examples as well.

But also I think that... I've heard it compared to movies, film, and cinema as well. Cinema has a high-class association to it. And movies feelsquite populist and film refers to the medium itself, like a work of film. And I think that comics is really useful just because it encompasses so much. It encompasses peanuts, it encompasses manga, it encompasses superheroes, it encompasses longer graphic novel or expressive or abstract or nonfiction works. Comics for the medium and comics singular as well. So, comics like film, as in you can say, comics is a medium. Or you can talk about a handful of comics.

ASTRID: I love that you just gave me the most academic answer that I wasn't anticipating but I enjoyed it. For the record, my favourites are Watchmen and Neil Gaiman's, The Sandman. But when I say that to people, Ronnie, people... I talk about literary fiction all the time and people look at me and they don't believe me and they wonder why I think that it would be worth my time. And it's so pleasurable to dive into a novel that's essentially in pictures. What are your thoughts on that? And why can writers, creatives choose this medium to tell some of the most profound stories?

RONNIE: I really love your two examples of Watchmen and Sandman are both multi multi person works, right? So, Watchmen has one author and one penciler I think. And Sandman has one author and many, many artists. And I think that often, the comics that get the literary attention, have a single artist and a single author. But I love the question of... And I understand why, if you had a narrative bone in your body, as well as an artistic bone in your body. You would want to organise your experience through words and pictures and spatial arrangements and colours and dialogue and all that.

Why a writer would want to write a script for an artist? I think that that's a more difficult question. But maybe it has to do with the idea that you can tell stories in scenes, the idea that you can collaborate and that someone else can realise your vision with you. I guess both of those writers in Watchmen and Sandman, they are working with myths and existing characters. And they're calling on this particular history of superheroes and other kind of mythological storytelling. And I think that comics is a great medium in which to do that.

I also think that Sandman works so well in comics, because it's partly about dreamspace. And comics as a medium, that's visual and atmospheric and non-representative in some ways. That feels like dreamspace as well. I've heard it said before, that a page of comics feels so immediate for us because our memories... It's not a line of texts that goes from left to right when we're thinking. We think in images and we think in sensations and some images are bigger than others and some are smaller than others. And that's like verbal stuff mixed with lots of other stuff. I think it's genius to tell a story that takes place in an abstract realm of dreams and the ways that that mixes with real life.

ASTRID: And that of course, is The Sandman. Ronnie, number 9 in the original 10-part Sandman series, where we learned the fate of Morpheus, always makes me need to go and have some quiet time and just think about it because it has such an effect on me. Anyway, I've now admitted that to everybody.

Ronnie, going back to this idea of telling stories, whether they be fiction or nonfiction, but communicating stories and what matters to us all. We both come across lot of exceptional writers and editors, as well as students of the craft and emerging literary voices. How does one move from being somebody who wants to share their words with the world, to somebody who is actually published and developing that public profile?

RONNIE: I think it's different for everyone. So, if I think about writers too, who I see as my peers, because they studied writing at the same time as I did, which is not the only way to be a writer. It's a way that I got into it and who have careers now, X number of years later. I had to do a long, long, long, long, long apprentice period of writing words to figure out how to do things clearly and how to write sentence and how to get through a story. Whereas some other people I knew, had more of a facility for that, that felt a bit more natural to them. They could write pretty smoothly and pretty well 10 years before I could. But they had to figure out more about what they wanted to do and where they wanted to apply their energy.

I think that people have different paths and different skill levels. And part of it's about recognising what you need to learn and what you're not good at and giving yourself opportunities to train at that. Well, sometimes it takes through formal education, sometimes that's through... I think that I learned as much about writing a novel from editing other people's work as writing, I guess that combined with writing myself. But also working for Street Press and for newspapers. And it was really interesting to start writing for Street Press in Brisbane actually. That ecosystem has largely been replaced by websites and blogs and pop culture websites and things like that. But I used to go out and review movies for... You'd get $50 for it or something like that. And in a writing workshop, people treat your words a bit preciously. And it's all about your intention, that is all. They are helping you improve.

I remember if you would hand in a movie review that had an unclear sentence, you would just open the paper on the weekend excited about seeing your work, and they would have just rewritten it completely. Maybe not with the meaning that you intended, but it's something that's clear and simple and easy for a reader to understand. There is different ways of handling your words. Mixed up together was really useful. It gave you multiple different ways to see the kind of work that you're doing. And I think that really, people just need to be exposed to different ways of interacting with words. And I think that that can be to do with editing other people. It can be to do with making sure that you have your own space to experiment and to fail and to try out different voices and styles of writing.

It can be to do with different professional situations, such as writing for Street Press or Globe. Sometimes people say never write for free, never write for exposure. And I think that that becomes true after a couple of years of doing it. But unless it's something that's meaningful to you and that you would want to be doing anyway, or that you're building a personal connection or something like that. But I think that there are so many opportunities out there for people to write for an audience. And just that feeling of being published by someone, I think can be really important and helps you see your work in a different way.

I think if you just spend a few years saying yes to things and being really opportunistic and just applying for whatever you possibly can, I think that that's a really good way to start building a career. And from there, you start to sort out what you actually want to do and where you want to put your time.

ASTRID: That is so well said, Ronnie. Thank-you so much for your time today.

RONNIE: Thank you so much for having me and for asking amazing questions, Astrid. That was awesome.