When did you first feel like a writer?
Ever since elementary school, I’ve felt I could communicate more directly through writing. Once I discovered creative writing, and poetry in particular, I knew it would be my life path.
What’s the most interesting thing that has inspired your writing and what was the result?
I once ran across a writing prompt seeking submissions based on Taco Bell. I googled their menu to get some ideas flowing. The results can be read here.
Paint us a picture: what does your writing process look like? Do you write in coffee shops at night or only on an old type-writer?
It’s late in the evening and I’ve got my ear buds in, listening to a play.list, sitting with my composition book and a kernel of a poetic idea. I’ll write it out by hand first, or at least the beginnings of it. Then, I’ll take it to my laptop, where I’ll finish the piece. Once I’m done, I usually don’t go through a whole lot of editing. I’ll give it a few days to breathe and go back and read it over. If I feel I didn’t quite nail it, then I will archive it and revisit it after a few months. I do have a fully-functioning typewriter, though it’s not as much a part of my writing process as it was before I acquired my laptop.
Describe your ideal reader: who would your work speak to?
My ideal reader is someone who says they don’t typically enjoy poetry. I’d like them read my work and perhaps change their mind and have them realize that poetry doesn’t necessarily have to be stuffy and old-fashioned. Poetry can be evocative & inspiring and can have a place in everyday life.
Who’s an author you’ve changed your mind about and why?
After starting the series The Handmaid’s Tale, I was intrigued and decided to order the book. I had heard so much about it and I chalked a lot of it up to hype and hyperbole. Thankfully, I started the novel with an open mind. It was, in fact, a master class in writing. It is now one of the first books I recommend to people. It was the most ‘economical’ works I’ve ever read, in the sense that there were no wasted words whatsoever. An impactful story written with surgical precision.
If you could interview any other writer/artist, who would it be and why?
Given the chance, I would interview Bobby Gillespie, singer and song-writer of the British group, Primal Scream. I’d like to get his take on the risks he takes in his music. Even from their earliest recordings, Primal Scream have been daring in their scope and delivery. What astounds me the most is how they’ve almost sounded like an entirely different band on every album while always remaining themselves at the core. Listening to Primal Scream’s catalogue is truly hearing a band fearlessly evolving.
What motivates you to keep writing?
Writing is something I do naturally. There’s always an idea floating around in my mind. It’s something I honestly believe I will be doing as long as I’m around. The main motivating factor for me is seeing how far I can take it. It’s the steps along the way that fascinate me. From writing a single poem to publishing a chapbook to preparing a full-length collection, it’s all been an enthralling journey.
How do you deal with writer’s block or being overwhelmed by the writing process?
When I’m stuck on a piece and the words are not flowing right for me, I feel the best way for me to get out of the funk is to put it away for a while. I turn to music initially. There’s so much texture in music to draw from, creatively. I’ll often pair a playlist with another form of art I enjoy- design. Working with images can be a relief from working with words. Listening to music and tinkering with photographs definitely makes it easier for me to return to the page.
Where would you like to see yourself in a decade? A creative writing teacher? As a best-seller?
In ten years’ time, I’d like to see myself with some more travelling under my belt. I’d love to return to Europe and write full-time. Perhaps living in close proximity to several cultures and languages will inspire me to create works that I may not otherwise have created. I’ve always felt a special connection to Ireland and its phenomenal lineage of writers, so it’s very high on my list of places I’d be delighted to explore together with my wife. I hope by that time to have a collection of poems published, that would be a dream come true.
What has your work taught you about yourself?
Since getting serious about my writing four years ago, my work has taught me how to believe in myself more. It’s extremely intimidating to hit the ‘submit’ button. I have learned that I can come to terms with rejection and it’s not the roadblock it once was. I’ve learned to listen very carefully for sometimes opportunity knocks very softly. I’ve also learned that success takes a lot of support. It takes dedication to become a better writer. It takes persistence to push through all the obstacles and let-downs. My work has taught me there is further to go. With the appropriate balance of confidence and patience, I will be able to write up to my fullest potential.