Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Some Questions for a Blog Tour

I was tagged to participate in the 2014 Blog Tour by poet Carey Taylor (her blog here). The tour involves answering four questions and then tagging two other writers to answer the same questions, and then they will each tag two writers, etc. It's a little bit like a chain letter except without the threats of misfortune if one breaks the chain. What follows are my answers to the questions and then links to the two writers I tagged: Larry Smith and JodiAnn Stevenson.

1-What am I working on?

Right now I find my life in a place of significant change. I don’t write well in upheaval, so I’m not working on anything and haven’t in months. I look forward to the months ahead, but there’s no sign on the horizon of the normalcy I would need to write—at least to write anything of sustained length, like a novel. Back in March I was invited to write an essay about Theodore Roethke’s poem, “Otto”. Then, I was invited by Annie Ransford to work on the essay in Theodore Roethke’s boyhood home over in Saginaw. I wrote the essay in April. It’s slated to appear in a book entitled A Far Field Guide to Theodore Roethke’s Poetry. That was a change for me because the essay had to be scholarly and include academic sources. It’d been a long time since I’d done in-text citations and had a Works Cited page!

Additionally, I’ve been invited to give two keynote addresses during the Welcome Back conference at our college late in August. One address will be to full-time faculty and staff, and the other will be to adjunct instructors. I usually simply read my keynote addresses, so I did have to write them.

Also, Jim Gleason and I are in pre-production for our latest short film. We hoped to be shooting the film this summer, but it didn’t work out that way.

I guess that’s what I’m working on…and by “working” I mean simply waiting for Jim and I to have the time to shoot the thing.

I really don’t know when I’ll write again and, right now, I’m really not too worried about it.

2-How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I guess it differs only in that I am writing it. I’m the only person who can write what I write. It would be strange if two people (say one in California and one in Maine) wrote the exact same poem… or, more far-fetched yet, the exact same story. Every time we sit down to write, we are doing something that nobody has ever done before and nobody will ever do again…whether or not it’s any good. There’s something mystical about that!

The mystical thing could be bullshit, though.

3-Why do I write what I do?

The compulsion to write is a pain in the ass. I wish I didn’t have it. It’s a great deal of work (often in isolation), it gives little in reward (at least the reward anyone else would celebrate), and the effort put in seldom produces the greatness that we imagined. Sitting down to write has killed so many good ideas. Ideas are at their best in potential. Once they become action…well that just means I’m sitting at a screen watching myself write bad sentences.

That’s how I feel about writing…so I guess I write because I can’t not write. There’s a degree of masochism to the whole arrangement.

4-How does my writing process work?

I almost chose to decline answering this question because I hate this question. In my generosity, I’ll give the shortened version because neither the long or short version is interesting, but the short version is shorter. When I’m working on something (especially a novel), I write every day. I try not to reread what I’ve written unless there’s some fact in the story that I need to know. I sit down every day for at least an hour (often more) and write. I write until I finish a draft, and I try not to rewrite at all until I have that draft down. I usually write at night. I use a laptop. And words. And punctuation.

The End.

Please welcome to the 2014 Blog Tour some writer friends of mine.

Larry Smith is the writer of many books, including both fiction and poetry. He has worked on film projects and is also the esteemed editor of Bottom Dog Press. He has also been a good friend to me and a fine steward of more than a couple of my books. Check out his blog and his Blog Tour answers (here)

JodiAnn Stevenson is a colleague of mine at Delta College. She is also a poet and a community activist and editor. She's written many fine poems and will write many more fine poems. She's been a good friend. You can check out her blog (here)

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