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CSL-Shalea Saunders-Jason Lee Norman

How to Become a Writer (Feat. Jason Lee Norman)

Jason Lee Norman is a writer from Edmonton as well as an employee of The Writers Guild of Alberta. Jason obtained a degree in English from the University of Alberta, and then went on to achieve a master’s in creative writing at the University of Manchester. Not only has Jason wrote several books such as Beautiful Girls & Famous Men, he is also the co-founder of a creative writing group called Words With Friends. As an English major myself striving to write books of my own one day, I was especially interested in discovering how Jason came to be the pronounced writer he is today. Looking up to Jason I was honoured to have the opportunity to ask the following questions in our interview.

Q1: How did you discover your passion was to become a writer and that you wanted to obtain your degree in English and then your master’s in creative writing?

A1: Since elementary school I always jumped on the opportunity to write little stories or poems for class assignments. . . . I did the same in high school but it was the year after high school where I read great books that inspired me and made me want to try to become a writer. . . . This is why I eventually became an English major. Once I discovered that there was such a thing as a master’s in creative writing I did everything I could to get accepted to grad school.

Q2: What were you initially planning on doing with your English degree? Did you plan on pursuing a master’s in creative writing? Did your plans/goals change over time? If so, how?

A2: When I first started as an English major I didn’t know that much about future plans. I thought that maybe I would end up teaching in some fashion. I never planned on pursuing a masters because I didn’t really think it was possible for me. My goals at first were just to read and learn as much as I could while in university. After receiving my MA I kept thinking more about teaching writing someday and still do but now my plans are more towards writing and publishing projects, as well as building a strong community of writers in my home of Edmonton.

Q3: In your books 40 Below: Edmonton’s Winter Analogy and 40 Below Volume 2: Alberta’s Winter Analogy you published poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Therefore, it appears you have a wide variety of writing styles, is there any writing styles you prefer? If so, why?

A3: Right now I prefer writing very short, or flash, fiction. . . . I just think there is something so powerful and intimate in a story that’s only 1200 words or so and yet can feel as powerful at the end as the climax of an entire novel.

Q4: What are some of your goals/plans for your writing in the future?

A4: “To keep taking literature outside of its comfortable areas like magazines and books and expose readers to writing that they have never seen before. . . .” In ten years Jason hopes to be “living in an Edmonton that celebrates its writers and its local books. . . .”

As a striving writer I was very inspired by Jason’s responses. I feel like he gave other aspiring writers a sense of reassurance that as long as you are passionate about writing and work hard everything will work out in the end. I also found it moving how passionate Jason is about creating a strong community of writers, which is one of the reasons why he joined The Writers Guild of Alberta. I am honoured to know that when I start my writing career I will have a supportive community of writers around me that Jason helped build.


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