Some Words in an Order: Writers Process Blog Tour

September 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

The fantastic, writerly, readingly Alex Crowley has tagged me in this Writers Process Chain Letter Blog Tour, for which I am grateful. Go read his answers and then get to work. What are you still doing here? Go. 

If you’re still here, here are my answers to this thing, which I am doing because I fear that if I don’t, I’ll never find my one true love, or everyone will send me poop in the mail, or something.

1) What are you working on?  

These days, I’m trying to find my way back to the fine, fine art of writing one poem at a time. I don’t know when I started to feel less in touch with that—maybe the deeper I got into “working” on a “manuscript”—but the poems I’m writing now, when I’m writing them, haven’t yet announced themselves as being a part of any one particular thing and I’m finding I’m satisfied with that. More than satisfied. I’m excited. I don’t know what they might become. 

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

I don’t know about differs, but I know that I often feel like the eyeballs in my poems turn inward, see thought machinery coming from the inside and maybe they project that onto the outside world, when they see it. I admire rich imagery in poems but my poems don’t really have that. The things they “see” feel, to me, like patterns. Boxes with thoughts inside. Definitions. I’m realizing I’m really into definitions. The way time moves, and how things can’t necessarily happen simultaneously but you can play with the time of their happening with tenses, with language, until you can somehow muscle past, present and future into a single sentence. 

3) Why do you write what you do?  

I’m pretty into the idea that we write what we want to read but haven’t yet found in the world. I’ve found lots of things in the world through reading that have made me feel connected to the world; I’d hope that something I write might make a person feel that uncanny, rippling pleasure of being somehow understood by an art object. Also, I like the experience of making feelings and movement in others out of language and imagination. Poems are only language and imagination. Both of those things are free and I am lucky to be free to use them. It’d be a crime not to use them as much as possible.

4) How does your writing process work?  

I write sentences in a very big blank book. I try to exert as little control as possible. It’s not an entirely automatic, capital-S Surrealist exercise because often enough in the writing I find myself becoming interested in ideas and sometimes I allow myself to pursue them, but the goal is always to follow language first, to make myself available to it. Later—hours, days, weeks later—I transcribe the sentences on my laptop and take stock. I start moving them around a bit, changing them, acceding to patterns that emerge. During this time I’m also trying to make myself available, trying to listen for connections and ordering principles, trying not to be a person with an ego who can fall in love with the sound of something and decide at that point not to go any further. Sometimes this process yields nothing I want to revisit. Sometimes, there’s a poem I like. I try not to think of the nothings as failures, though that’s maybe the hardest thing to do. They’re just practice, like everything. A sharpening. As Jack Spicer might say, I’m honing myself and my machinery so that when the eventual transmission comes I’m the best receiver I can be. 

Up next: 

Michelle Chan Brown

Lisa Fay Coutley


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