16 July 2014

Blog tour #mywritingprocess

I'm happy to finally participate in this blog tour, which I have been watching longingly from afar while buried in manuscripts and grading. Many thanks to Julie Brooks Barbour for tagging me. Julie's responses are here, and you must check out her poetry if you haven't already. 

Here's the interview:

1) What am I working on?

Primarily, I am working on not losing my mind over the summer. Having two school-age kids home, and no childcare, is always a challenge for writing. That said, I have ceased gazing longingly at other people's posts about retreats and residencies and some strange commodity called writing time. I'm counting the weeks and forging ahead. I am reading a lot of novels and making plans to send work out. So far I have succeeded at the former, but not the latter.

My current project is a series of prose poems in five or six stanzagraphs. Right now I have 18 pages, 5,662 words. I'm not sure if it's going to be a book or part of a book, but I just keep going. I didn't set out to write a series of prose poems, it just kind of happened. In June I wrote a poem a day, and many of those poems are part of this series. Since it's prose, it has a different scope from my other projects, and each poem is pretty different from the last, except for the presence of a consistent speaker. Themes: nostalgia, displacement, desire, unrequitedness. I've let myself be a little more objectionable than usual, because now seems to be the right time. 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write about uncomfortable situations and feelings, and include a lot of detritus in my poems. Sometimes I may care too little about the reader. I am guilty of harboring and cultivating obsessions. You might say that I am quite autobiographical, but I am also writing fictions at the same time.  

3) Why do I write what I do?

Demonic possession. 

Seriously, that's what it feels like. 

Maybe I'll translate that into "haunting" to make it a little more palatable.

4) How does my writing process work?

I have to take notes first. Lately, they've been on scraps of paper, or on my phone, though those often accidentally get deleted, which is a tragedy for me. I need quiet (ear plugs) and about twenty minutes. I've found that it's easier for me to write with my younger kid in the room (forbidden from interrupting) than to write while listening to both of my kids fight / potentially fight / stomp around. I am not a poet who has a writing space or a writing schedule. I have a bedroom and panic and a little time after dinner on some days. 

I need to finish a draft before closing the file and turning off the computer. This might seem more difficult when writing poems that are upwards of 400 words long, but the prose often comes faster than the lineated poems, for some reason. After I finish the draft, often I re-order the stanzagraphs. Sometimes I'll write a more poignant closing line in the second of five stanzas, and then rearrange. 

As usual, I read the poems aloud as I write them, each line at a time. I don't move on until the previous line feels right. Often I run out of time, and have to hurry to the ending. I put myself in a writing trance, and try not to allow any non-productive distractions to push me away from the poem. That said, I also allow productive distractions to influence me during the day. I may be watching a swimming lesson, but inside I am thinking about a girl who hitchhikes her way to a gas station on the edge of town. 

Next up in the #mywritingprocess blog tour is fellow Akron poet Nathan Kemp. His writing process is pretty damn fascinating. You'll find his responses here next week. 

Nathan Kemp is a poetry editor for Barn Owl Review, an associate editor for Whiskey Island, and a social media editor for H-NGM-N Books. His work appears or is forthcoming in American Microreviews and InterviewsColumbia Poetry ReviewCream City Review, and The Destroyer. He lives in Akron, Ohio.

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