#BrokenAsides with James Reitter


When did you first feel like a writer?
Aside from my name being Reitter, I felt being a writer was a big part of my identity by the end of my freshman year in college (1992).

What’s the most interesting thing that has inspired your writing and what was the result?
My early inspiration for writing were lyrics to songs, obsessing over the printed lyrics on album sleeves or cassette liners—especially (but not limited to) the thrash metal scene of the 1980s.

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?
I write mostly through pen and paper in notebooks at first, including edits and revision. I often do an additional revision when I transcribe my paper poems into digital format on computer.

Describe your ideal reader: who would your work speak to?
I don’t write for an audience, and find it very difficult to do so. I hope my work speaks to anyone who is willing to take a moment or two and reflect and re-evaluate their perspective—any age, any gender, any background.

Who’s an author you’ve changed your mind about and why?
This is a bit tricky, but I’m going to go with two: Charles Bukowski and Allen Ginsberg. I felt like a outgrew Bukowski after being greatly inspired by him, but am coming back around. With Ginsberg, I didn’t develop an appreciation of his work until after I read his biography.

If you could interview any other writer/artist, who would it be and why?
At this point, I would enjoy interviewing Sharon Olds or Rita Dove. I greatly admire their work and craft—and would love to pick their brains.

What motivates you to keep writing?
It’s a part of me that is very private and that I don’t often let out socially. I think I’m a very different person when interacting with others than I am on paper. While my work has many slices of autobiography, I don’t think it’s confessional. My writing is one side of me.

How do you deal with writer’s block or being overwhelmed by the writing process?
I don’t get overwhelmed by the writing or revision, but in gathering the mental energy to submit and publish material. I find that process exhausting. The most simple way for me to avoid writer’s block is to either go outside and just sit/observe or open a random book and blindly select a jumpstarter line.

Where would you like to see yourself in a decade? A creative writing teacher? As a best-seller?
I hope I will have the same academic position I hold now (perhaps a promotion) with another few books under my belt.

What has your work taught you about yourself?
I need to lighten up.

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