A few weeks ago, the brave, lyrical, and all-around fabulous essayist/poet/dear friend, Jacqui Morton, tagged me to continue this tour. I am sure she thought since I was on summer vacation I would promptly meet the one week deadline to post, but without a daily schedule I lost track days and weeks. I also have this other graduate program (MLIS) and important vacation obligations to meet, like jet skiing with my sister and brother-in-law and visiting my nephew in Orlando.
What is a blog tour? Here are the instructions that were passed on to me:
“A writer answers a few questions about how and why and what they write, and then they ask a pal or three to do the same, and as the weeks go by, more and more of us share our precious secrets about the creative process, until eventually, probably in like mid-September, we all simultaneously self-actualize.
Indeed, weeks have gone by. I can’t wait for mid-September. In the meantime, here what I do to justify calling myself a poet/writer.
1. What are you working on?
I am working on the final touches to my chapbook manuscript, Love Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, due out in November from Dancing Girl Press. I am also working on new poems (less love lessons and more political) to go along with the love lessons to make a full-length manuscript of poems all somehow filtered through Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also have an essay I am working on, which I may or may not decide to share publicly. Also part of the writing work, the end of the writing process, is trying to get my first manuscript published. Finally, there are some miscellaneous newer poems from April’s poem-a-day challenge that at least give me hope I will have new projects in the future.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
It is very difficult for me to be objective about my work in this way. I would say that, looking at both manuscripts, the style and voice are quite different, as are the themes and subject matter, so maybe the range of my work is something that is different. My first book (yet to find a publisher) is much more personal, about my heritage and family, about illness and death and identity. The Buffy poems are much more bold and witty (or so I like to think, perhaps), utilizing syntax, slang, and imagery from the show. They voice is less easy to pin down which reflects the looser form (the first book contains more formal poems). Though I often will read poems years later and catch myself in my own delusion, perhaps something that makes my work different is its honesty, or at least the sincerity of the struggle to be honest, to get to the marrow of the matter (whatever that matter is).
3. Why do you write what you write?
Usually I don’t know really know. Later, after I wrote it, it is because I needed to — I needed to release it, understand it, figure it out, hold up the beauty of it — or the horror of it — whatever it is. That said, there is a lot that is written that no one will ever see. Which makes it sound salacious, but really, when I die, it is more likely if anyone looks at it the hard drive will be thrown in the trash that with everything else no one can figure out why I saved. I am okay with that.
4. How does your writing process work?
To some extent, I honestly do not know. I am big on revising and not so great with starting new poems, so when I look at poems that are published or that I am working on now, sometimes I don’t know how they started. Again, it goes back to that need to work something out or capture the awe or awfulness of something, to illuminate or transform it. Since, like with most writers, writing is what happens between all the other obligations of being a human (work, other studies, interacting with others, trying to be healthy and interact with the world around me), I find the writing process works best when it becomes part of the routine, when I do not “wait” for inspiration, but summons it by showing up regularly. Starting about January of 2014, to my own shock, I became the writer who got up before dawn to write before the rest of the day started. It is only about 45 minutes or an hour, but it is daily and it is done for the day. It worked really well, but ironically, since summer break started, I stopped getting up early and the writing has been more sporadic. Now I am traveling and I don’t get writing done when I travel. I also spent the last two Aprils doing the poem-a-day challenge which generated some interesting new work and opened new directions in voice/style/subject matter using various prompts (so I guess prompts are a stimulus for new poetry). I will say, regarding prompts, I am not good at following the rules and usually like to combine two so they don’t sound like a-poem-from-a-prompt. And also so I can write what I want and how I want, but a prompt gives an edge to leverage against when starting out from scratch. The process is like this response — you set a destination to get you on the road, but end up where you least expected.
I now pass this on two women I admire greatly as writers, women who inspire, support, challenge, and astound me: Tisha Reichle and Sharon Venezio. I am also going to pass this on to my co-conspirator, the talented and prolific, Ashley Perez. Like me, they may not meet the one week deadline, but I look forward to self-actualizing with them in September. And read their work (and Jacqui’s). Buy Sharon’s book (which I reviewed at The Rumpus) and follow Tisha so you can pre-order her book when it comes out.