Finding The Hobbit w/ Jake of The Creative Cafe

How likely are you to find a good place to submit fiction and poetry?

The answer is, on Medium, there’s many and among those is The Creative Cafe, a publication headed by Jake and home to fascinating stories and writings in the Mediumsphere. We conducted an interview about the publication, the stories published there and works that people share. The answers were not modified in any way.

A person comes across your publication and they can’t help but ask this question: Why The Creative Café? What would your response be?

The answer to this question is evolving each week. The Creative Cafe is still relatively new. Coming up on a year now. It started as a place for my work, because I felt it didn’t quite fit anywhere else. Then, one by one others came to contribute. Now, it’s a place for both up and coming as well as established writers to hang out. It’s a place to share something you have made and take something to serve as inspiration for the next piece. More than anything The Creative Cafe I have found is about moving people who do not relate to the label “creative” to share something they wish had been made for them.

This is about going beyond labels and seeing creativity for what it is — a spectrum. Not something you have or you don’t. Living creatively isn’t a zero-sum game.

Do you feel as though The Creative Café champions fiction and poetry equally? Or do you favor one over the other? Are there specific topics that are most popular?

On one hand, it is completely out of my hands. One thing that separates The Creative Cafe is it is an open forum. Anyone with any story to tell is welcome to add it. I, as the editor, don’t pick and choose what gets published. On the other hand, there is one place that I curate and that is in our weekly letter, The Scratchpad. The stories featured there are chosen because they spoke to me. As a part-time poet myself, I do favor poetry in a way. However, the bottom line is personal stories, reflections and memoirs always rise to the top for me. I’m drawn to someone willing to put a piece of their self out on display.

Where do you think your publication can improve the most?

Offering critique and feedback. This is a one man shop and that will likely change soon. I don’t have the technical expertise nor training to offer in-depth critiques for our contributors to help them improve. Even if I did, most of my time goes toward just getting new writers added, responding to questions and reviewing stories to get published.

What is the one thing you would ask Medium if you could be granted one advantage over other publications?

Access to the emails of all of the publication’s subscribers. I would love to be able to communicate more directly with our readers for feedback on a one-on- one basis.

This might have some relation to the site but this is also a personal question: What do fiction and poetry mean to you?

To me these forms of writing are about tearing off pieces of yourself and fashioning them into something that someone else recognizes can relate to. I believe fiction and poetry exist in the space between the writer and the reader. A highly personal connection and meaning is created there — part creator and part consumer.

What type of fiction do you read the most? Is there one style of fiction that you fawn over every time you pick out a new book?

Fiction nowadays doesn’t get flipped through as much as it should. Fantasy has always been a favorite though. Specifically, LOTR and The Hobbit. I would live in Middle Earth given the chance.

Do you think that Medium is a good place for fiction and poetry?

Personally, I haven’t found a better place. I believe in the community that Medium has fostered and I hope it never loses the spark that drew me to it in the first place. Almost immediately I doubled down on Medium to the point I barely publish anywhere else. The contributors here are raw, vulnerable, authentic and kind to a fault. I value that.

What are your favorite fiction and poetry publications on Medium?

The short list: 100 Naked Words, The Weekly Knob and P.S. I Love You.

What do you think can be done to increase the exposure of fiction writers? Of poetry writers?

To me the number one thing is taking the time to send a few words of encouragement and/or feedback to a writer when you enjoy a story in any way. This

  1. feeds their soul as a creative and increases the likelihood that they will continue to share their work, and
  2. when the people that follow you see you commenting on other’s work they are more likely to check it out as well.

Are there any new features you wish to see implemented on Medium?

Many. On the composing side, it would be great to be able to co-author something with

another writer. Right now, one person gets to publish and anyone else who contributes is noted, but not as the writer. It will be awesome to add additional features to collaborate with other writers on projects and stories. On the publication side, I would love to be able to manage my publication from mobile. This is just a workflow thing, but right now there isn’t a great way to offer support and editorial aid to writers on the go without whipping out my laptop.

Do you think that people would pay for good fiction storytelling? What about poetry writing?

I think history speaks for itself on this one. For centuries great writing has been sought after and rewarded. The internet and online publications are changing that landscape right now regarding who gets paid for the written word, when and how. To be honest I don’t think anyone has really cracked the code on it. The barrier to entry is lower than it has ever been to be compensated for writing. The trick is figuring out what that looks like for your style and audience in an internet and mobile first world. Figuring that out is and always has been the difference between a hobbyist and a professional.

What can your readers expect from The Creative Café in the near or far away future?

There are a couple of things that are in the works that I’m not ready to release quite, yet. However, I can say that contributors to our prompt challenges will be the first to know. We have started hosting prompts and gotten great feedback thus far. That will continue. Additionally, new editors will be chosen in the near future. As I mentioned, I want to be able to support and offer true editorial services to our contributors, so I will be recruiting some new help with the publication soon.

Waffles or pancakes? ☺

Waffles is hands-down winner. Unfortunately, I do not own a waffle iron and often settle for the second cousin twice removed, pancakes.

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