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Unearthing Meaning: A Writer's Quest to Challenge, Heal, and Inspire with Erika Loch

Introducing an interview with a passionate and versatile writer who uses her craft to challenge censorship and inspire readers to explore the layers of meaning within words. With a wide-ranging exploration of themes and a focus on evoking emotions and new perspectives, this writer's work is a journey through the depths of human experience.

2023-09-11

Joana Alarcão

To begin, can you delve a bit into your artistic background and practice?

Through childhood and young adulthood, I was devoted to ballet and many forms of dance, which was my first artistic love. Music was an integral part of my movement practice, and a personal joy, and I reveled in lyrics that could hold me or would transport me elsewhere. I was also an avid reader and writer from a very young age, which continued through my university years. Although my artistic immersion took a back seat when I entered the professional world, I had an interesting career in the creative industry of fashion, and I was fortunate to have a lot of exposure to the visual arts scene that so radiates in London – art and creativity have always had a presence in my life and my commercial endeavours, even through periods where I wasn’t actively practicing, they formed part of my atmosphere.


Whilst writing has always played a role in my commercial career, a major life shift led me back to creative writing, in earnest, in 2019. I spent a lot of my lockdown time with pencil in hand – paradigm shifts abounded both internally and externally and offered endless ideas and subjects I felt called to address, tackle, unpack, and explore on the page. 


I went to my first spoken word event right before lockdown, which ignited a spark I picked up again in June 2022. I have been regularly practicing, taking commissions, and performing since – I particularly love collaborating with galleries, creatives, and brands, which draw on and unite the knowledge and experience of my commercial, personal, and creative worlds. 


Your writing is a defiant act against modern book burning and a means to leave messages for those who read between the lines. Could you share a specific instance where you felt this act of defiance was particularly resonant in your work?

In late 2020, troubled and exasperated by what I was observing and uncovering in Western society, I wrote a piece called A Visit from December 2019 which was a rewrite of Clement Clarke Moore’s iconic A Visit from St. Nicholas. I used the piece as a vehicle to witness and report on the madness, detailing aspects of the lockdown era that might otherwise be forgotten and linking them with wider, previously widely-accepted principles we seemed to have forgotten at the time, and perhaps since.


It was also a means to record and nod to the absurdity of and the nature of history repeating itself when we do not pay attention or get lost in the proverbial weeds. When people of the future look back at the lockdowns of the early 2020s, inevitably shaking their heads, it is crucial that there be stories and testimonies available to them apart from the official narratives that will undoubtedly monopolize the digital textbooks that may burn and update themselves in real time.

 

Your writing serves as a form of healing - a way to mine and transmute the past. How do you navigate this process of transformation?

With patience, gentleness, and through the abdication of control through acceptance and curious exploration. 

 



Your creative process involves exploring a wide range of themes, from mother nature, consciousness, rebirth, and lived and shared experience to memory, movement, abandonment, trauma, recovery, characters, humanity, freedom, and truth-seeding. What artistic process do you employ to create a work that delves into one of these themes?

I owe a lot to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. The practices and exercises championed in this book like regular journaling, spending time in nature, and making artist dates, specifically, help me to create and safeguard an arena for exploration and development. 


I’ve also learned to honour inspiration when it comes, so I keep several notebooks to-hand so I can jot things down quickly – never knowing when, but ready for a spark when it comes. So, I’ve developed my own system of reference to support the process of connecting the dots. This may also involve spreadsheets where I can organise topics and/or phrases that I want to get into or tie into something I’m working on. . . 


I think a lot about what I feel needs to be said, and how each idea is best evoked – whether through storytelling, a metaphor, or painting a visual picture with words. Learning how to be open to and accepting of intuition when it comes is vital. When actively writing, I’ll often close my eyes and feel into what visions or visual representations of feelings may come. From there, I can connect with the words that will best abstract the essence of what I want to convey, what I see in my mind’s eye, or what I want to play with. 


Like a hummingbird, you delve into various concepts and ideas. Could you share an example of how your curiosity led you down an unexpected path in your writing, resulting in a unique and intriguing exploration?

I’m currently working on a piece that has arisen from discovering and learning about Natural Law. On the one hand, I’m stunned that I’m only encountering the subject now (despite an education in the humanities) and on the other hand, it feels like stumbling across lost treasure, or a message in a bottle, ripe for exploration, modern interpretation, and dissemination. 


In exploring the tenets and dimensions of Natural Law and its expressions through the human experience, the piece seeks to encapsulate the principles, championing the positive expressions, warning around the negative expressions, and presented in the form of something resembling a spell.

 

What can you tell us about your piece, We were always the stars.

This is a very special piece to me on many levels. It first came to me like a bolt during an intense period of personal discovery and confusion a few years ago. It seemed to act like something of a swimming vest – keeping me above and afloat unsettled waters of the philosophical and real world chaos I felt I was drowning in at the time. 


Although it came very quickly initially, it is one of those pieces that took time to find itself and mature out of the shock I was in when it originally came to me.


As much as I needed the work to be a clarion call, I also wanted it to serve as conduit into the remembrance of who we are as humans, and the innate power we hold as children of God – that no matter what, ‘good’ always triumphs in the end. It is a memo to myself as much as it is meant to embrace, encourage, and embolden readers. 

 



Your upcoming book places time as the central character. How do you approach portraying time as a character, and what inspired you to delve into this narrative non-fiction exploration?

I don’t want to say too much about how I portray time as a character at this time other than to say that the primary vehicle is structural. What inspired me down this road is my long held fascination with and direct experience of how time infiltrates, influences, and punctuates life and truth and perspective – it can be the death of things, the birth of things, and how it can be change that presents itself in the micro and then echoes out into the macro, and vice versa – a metaphysical dance across realities.


We saw a lot of this during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 – where something that was true one day could be rendered completely irrelevant the next. It was jarring and extraordinary and something I believe strongly we ought not gloss over. 


Likewise, the Westernised view of and relationship with time is strained, if not downright dysfunctional. Perhaps if we were to be more playful and interactive with time – treating it like a friend as opposed to railing against it as some invisible, malevolent force, our collective reality could morph (for the better). Conceptually, I treat time as a character in terms of both our real and imagined relationship with it. 

 

Your hope is that your writing evokes feelings, images, and perspectives in your readers. Could you describe a particular reaction or impact you've witnessed from a reader that resonated deeply with you and affirmed the significance of your craft?

It may seem counterintuitive, but I am particularly delighted in instances where a reader takes something completely different away from my work than perhaps what was intended. It is the process of attaching meaning I am interested in – that my work can conjure meaning or thought is something I consider an accomplishment in this era of busy minds. I wrote a piece called The Slug – which is not about a slug, but a story of a young person doing proverbial back flips to please and survive in the world around her. One reader took it as a story about a woman working in the sex industry – at its core, their stories were not entirely different, I thought that was very interesting and I have played with that notion to purposefully create pieces that might mean different things and tell different stories to different people, indeed, in different times or contexts. 


Of course, when someone tells me they felt transported to another place or time, taken on a bit of a journey, emotions stirred, something felt, my soul smiles. 




In your perspective, how do art and artistic creation set a bridge between global societal and political issues and the general public?

What a painting that would be . . . 

I envision strands and strings that interconnect and reconfigure themselves across dimensions – expanding or shrinking in accordance with the nature of the energy the general public emanate around various societal and political issues. Not just bridges, but portals and tunnels that open up and offer themselves to the public, daring or beckoning to be explored. Like comedians play with perception and interpretation and open up new neural pathways in the process, art and creation serve to illuminate, translate or commentate on societal happenings – all vital. Art and creation are like yin (or right brain) to the yang (left brain) of society and politics – a bridge to balance, perhaps. As much as art and artistic creation serve as bridges, they can also serve to burn them.

 

Lastly, what message would you like to leave our readers?

Don’t look away.


All images courtesy of Erika Loch.

 

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Erika Loch is a poet, writer, consultant, and freedom advocate. Born in Canada and based in the UK, her multi-sector career spans many countries and stress levels. When not advising start-ups or collaborating with brands and purpose-driven organisations, she can be found performing the spoken word, working on her new book, or causing good trouble.


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