Creator Spotlight: Hannah Barrett

by Vocal Spotlight about a year ago in spotlight

"I have refused to accept that having my voice heard and getting to make people laugh is just a dream that 'would be cool if it ever happened'; I live every day remembering and being excited that it’s already happening and will keep going." -Hannah Barrett

Hannah Barrett is a charismatic, hilarious, and gifted writer from Alberta, Canada. Far greater than her skill in syntax and storytelling is her inviting worldview—or the x-factor we hypothesize leads others to fall in love with her. Through years of honing her craft, Hannah's developed a voice that makes you feel like you've known her for years. Between her personal touch and lighthearted candor, time flies when we're reading her work! To our relief, she's got plenty of material.

Hannah, a proud mother and devoted wife, leads quite an active presence on Vocal. Having submitted to 21 of 34 communities (and counting), we're always excited to see what Hannah submits next, knowing there's yet another piece right around the corner. Within those 21+ stories she's published are 2 challenge wins as well as a couple of staff picks for good measure. This decorated Vocal Creator is making a name for herself, and she's got no intention of slowing down. We're proud to highlight the lovely, courageous, and accomplished Hannah Barrett in this #VocalSpotlight. Enjoy!

On Herself, Her Background and Her Beliefs:

I’m just your average hippie, feminist, anarchist, wife and mom living in rural Alberta! I’m told I’m a “big personality”, which I’m pretty sure just means I am not to be trifled with… which is true. I am 27 years old and a social worker by day, working in adult outpatient addiction services.

I am into all things body positive, feminism, BLM, LGBTQ+, eco-friendly, and Keanu Reeves. I love a hot debate, and I am known for being unapologetically passionate (and vocal) about what I believe in.

On Writing, Vocal, and Her Aspirations:

I have ALWAYS loved writing. I have written short stories for as long as I can remember and I have always adored making people laugh with anything from fiction, to telling my own stories, to silly limericks and song-rewrites.

I won a young writer’s contest in seventh grade that I entered as a joke where I wrote an entire story from the perspective of a sentient tennis shoe. Something was sparked in me way back then; it was so cool to be recognized for my sarcastic, silly style, and I thought, “woah… maybe I’m not the only one who thinks I’m funny!”

Vocal has given me such a gift, and I am so glad I am here. I have gained so much confidence and optimism writing on Vocal, through a couple challenge placings and staff picks, and now this spotlight—it’s so incredible! Vocal has helped me realize/decide that my dream of being a published (and one day best selling) author is going to be a reality—so look out world! I’m coming! You’ll see me on the best seller’s list soon!

On Her Self-Propelled Inspiration To Create and a Few Honorable Mentions:

I create simply because it’s what I want to do. I have refused to accept that having my voice heard and getting to make people laugh is just a dream that “would be cool if it ever happened”; I live every day remembering and being excited that it’s already happening and will keep going.

I’m really inspired by any folks who do exactly what they always wanted to do or turn their passion into a living, especially writers or artists. I really enjoy following Phoebe Robinson right now; I started off listening to her Podcast 2 Dope Queens and it’s amazing to see all of the amazing things she has done since then with her writing, performing, producing, you name it this girl says “I’ll try that!” and rocks it.

Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson - 2 Dope Queens Podcast

On Her Motherly Intuition:

I have definitely always been a great judge of character—even if I don’t always understand it and it’s just a gut feeling. I like to look at things from the holistic, big picture perspective before I form an opinion, but it often results in me saying “Wait...what the hell? How is this okay?” I think my call to social work comes from my ability to read people and situations quite well from the get go. Some might call it judgemental—I call it “intuitive” (lol).

Becoming a mother heightens this sense by about 1000%. You know how some people say dogs can sense evil? Moms can definitely sense evil—in people and policy! Even since becoming pregnant, my passion for eco-friendly initiatives has moved to the forefront of my interests and priorities. I have always felt responsible for helping to keep our planet alive, but it felt pretty selfish of me to bring another human into this world and not kick it up a notch. I always say, “hey, I just kinda want my kid to have a nice planet to grow up on… call me crazy!”

On Her Progress in the Vocal 2020 Challenge:

I am LOVING the Vocal 2020 challenge. I have got to experiment with a few different mediums and it’s been fun using the challenges as gateways to some of the communities I didn’t yet have ideas for! I really enjoyed contributing to the Poets community, and I’m super proud of both poems I’ve written on Vocal this year, but I think my favourite community to try out so far has been Horror.

I mostly enjoy writing comedy and satire, so it was cool to go into that dark place and see what I could bring out. I am really excited to write for the Filthy community—but I am a bit fearful for the reaction from those close to me who are keeping up with the challenge; I think someone may ask that I go find Jesus or something along those lines. I am most stumped on writing for Chain; I have zero clue about anything to do with blockchain but I will have to figure out a way to put my own Hannah spin on a story about it!

On Her 3rd Place Winning Challenge Submission, "Life Four Months Ago":

This was another one of those moments just like my tennis shoe story in 7th grade, where it was so cool to see my style/take on something be recognized and appreciated. I loved writing this piece and I felt so seen and validated when it placed—so thank you for that!

I have definitely ALWAYS used humor to cope or find comfort—maaaaaybe a few times when a joke should have been kept to myself. It’s not necessarily that I laugh INSTEAD of feeling other things, I think I just find it easier to move on from the hard stuff if I can use humor. As a kid I was always told how “funny” I was by kids and adults, and people would do that really annoying thing where they would say, “say something funny”, and I could never think of anything. I like to think my writing now is all of the things that were supposed to come to me in those moments but never did.

On What's Keeping Her Sane in These Crazy Times:

I was on maternity leave when the world shut down, and honestly, life wasn’t that different for me—I was already staying the hell home! I live in Canada, so in March it’s still hella cold outside and I wasn’t going out much with my 8 month old as it was. My husband and I are also some of the only people of our friend groups around here with a kid, so we are pretty used to less socializing and more chilling at home these days.

Of course, even as a home-body, this year has been overwhelming mentally for so many reasons. Remaining in good contact with my close friends via video chats has been extremely valuable to me, and being able to move my body and go out for walks with my dog Luna every night has been absolutely crucial. It’s also been amazing that we’ve recently moved closer to both of our families and have been able to safely see and have quality time with them. I am also so grateful that I got involved and active on Vocal before these wild times started because it has definitely been a safe and happy place for me—both writing my own and reading other creator’s pieces!

On Her Favorite Story She's Published on Vocal:

Honestly, I have been so proud of every piece I have put forward so far this year. I am definitely my biggest critic but I also probably laugh at myself more than anyone else does. “to:Canada” is definitely up there for me, but one of my favourites has got to be my article on my best friend, “Ativan, Calgary, and the art of supporting sobriety”.

It was really cool to write a piece about her and surprise her with it—and for one of my articles to actually move someone to tears! “Fraudulent Fruit.” was a fun one for the reaction it got as well—a lot of former colleagues from the job I talk about in this story messaged me and said it made them laugh to think back on me in that role with the perspective given in the article.

Don’t think about it—first thing that comes to mind:

What is one thing you couldn’t live without?

A good pair of jeans.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs ALL the way.

Favorite travel destination?

The UK!

Favorite local restaurant?

Blue Dragon Thai! Anything Thai, really. My husband hates thai food so it’s mostly a me-time food. He says he, and I quote, “can’t get down with spicy peanut butter”.

What’s your go-to late night snack?

Chocolate if we have it! If not… I love me some microwave nachos!

What are you currently binge-watching?

Honestly, nothing! I have been a total lame-o when it comes to TV since having a baby. I haven’t been into much other than re-runs of RuPaul. I really like the series Central Park from the creators of Bob’s Burgers-- it’s a musical TV show and the songs are amazing!

If you could speak a new language, what would it be and why?

Something super badass like Elvish. And I would be that really annoying person who said everything in Elvish and then was just like “oh whoops sorry sometimes I forget no one else can understand me heehee” and everyone will talk shit about my Elvish speaking at parties.

Favorite story you read on Vocal by another creator?

I frickin’ LOVED the 3rd Place Winner of the Confession Corner challenge, “I Failed My First Ethical Dilemma” by Angell Roulez. It had me seriously laughing out loud.

There is something about childhood stories being told in that dramatized, horror-esque, adult way that I just find timelessly funny. And I want to know what in the hell made that noise at the top of the stairs at Coronation Elementary School.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Hannah! Like we said, it's always a pleasure (and thrill) seeing another piece of yours published on Vocal. We're so happy you decided to jokingly enter that writing competition in seventh grade! That sentient tennis shoe kept you walking in the right direction.

If you've read all of Hannah's work, guess what... there's still more content out there! Check out her podcast "Keyboard Warrior" on Anchor, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts!

Thanks again, Hannah!

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Vocal Spotlight aims to highlight standout creators who are changing the world one story at a time. We're getting to know the storytellers who inspire us the most, and we can't wait for you to meet them.

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