Finnian Burnett

Author, Educator, Cat Person

Welcome to the 5 Minutes Series. Each week, I’ll ask five questions of some of my favorite authors, editors, publishers, and other industry professionals. This week, I’m talking to the weirdly delightful author, Sage Tyrtle, writer, storyteller, founder of the Crow Collective.

  • Sage Tyrtle’s work is available or upcoming in New Delta Review, The Offing, and Apex among others. She reads for Hippocampus and Fractured Lit. Her words have been featured on NPR, CBC, and PBS and she’s been nominated three times for Pushcart, once for Best American Short Stories. She runs a low cost online writing workshop collective.

1. What is the origin story of the Crow Collective?

 Before the pandemic I taught workshops in person. Venue space in
Toronto is really expensive. Accessible venue space was outside of my
budget entirely. So while I loved teaching, the venue side was not only
stressful, it meant I had to charge high fees in order to make any
profit. And it still wasn’t accessible.

At the start of lockdown someone started a low cost writing workshop
collective. I was so excited and wanted to tell my writing community
about it, but realized the timing excluded almost everyone I knew
because of time zones. So I asked the organizer if I could start one
and they were like sure, I don’t own the idea, so I did.

I had no idea it would grow this much, or that so many amazing writing
teachers would embrace the low cost idea. I’m immensely proud of the
Crow Collective writing community, which is supportive, talented, and
kind. I had no idea if people would put money in the tip jar to create
free registrations but they do! All the time! And I am blown away by
their generosity.

Many people have written to say how changeful it is to be able to take
writing workshops regardless of their finances. And that’s something
the community has made happen.

2. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Invisibility because I am a terrible eavesdropper (like most writers I think) and I could indulge in my vice. (Ed. Note. Can you imagine invisible Sage listening in on your conversations? What would you want to hide?)

3. You recently wrote a delightfully weird novella, The King of Elkport. What inspired that story?

I was a kid in the 70s and a teen in the 80s. Though I’ve always
been an early adopter of technology (first computer 1986, met my
partner online in 1991, first online journal 1995, first podcast 2005)
in 2014 I got rid of my smartphone because I’d all but stopped reading
books. And because I wanted to be a more present parent. I never got
another one, because getting rid of it worked. The only phone I have
these days is a landline.

I like analog technology. I like the slowness of it. I like reading
books. I like the way email mimics postal letters and that I’m
inaccessible via text message. So I was thinking about how, if I had a
zillion dollars, I could essentially time travel. (Not like the main
character of this book, one time through high school was ENOUGH for me.
*laughing*) I only went to one Renaissance Faire because I thought it
would feel like time travel and it was a massive disappointment. But
what if EVERYONE was in costume, behaving correctly?

And once I started writing the story I realized I wanted to talk about
men and loneliness, a topic that I don’t see very often but that I
believe is rampant. (Ed. Note. I got to read this wonderful story before the release and it is incredible.)

4. What advice would you give an emerging writer?

I wanted to write from the time I was five years old. Then fear kept
me from pursuing writing for almost FIFTY YEARS. Don’t be like me. Find
a writing community. Work hard. Finish a story, a poem, a CNF piece.
Ask for honest feedback. Work on it until you’re happy (not until it’s
perfect, that doesn’t exist) and start submitting it. It will be
rejected a bunch of times and eventually accepted. If you are writing
with passion, if you’re working hard, someone, somewhere, is going to
love what you are saying.

5. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a set of interconnected short stories. They’re
supposed to be flash, but as I work on this idea I’m finding I just
have A LOT to say. I’m having a wonderful, exciting time creating the
setting and characters who populate this world which my writing friends
assure me is as frighteningly creepy as I intend it to be.

Thank you for your time!

Sage can be found on the web here.

The event invite for the launch of “The King of Elkport” is here.

And, if you want to attend the free weekly writing group, Snow, please check here.

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