While crafting your work, are there any unique expectations running through the back of your mind? (e.g., expectations you have of yourself, styles you attempt to emulate, and so on?)
I love reading (and now writing) prose poems. During my senior year of college, I did an independent study in poetry and in one of my units I was assigned to read prose poems. However, I was so fascinated that I redirected my studies around prose and spent a solid month just reading/talking about prose. The whole writing style just really captivated me. When I really started writing prose, the style just clicked with me on a personal level and worked so well with my thought process. You know, as opposed to me trying to sit down and write a sestina and feeling like I needed to bang my head against the wall between stanzas.
I wouldn’t say that I emulate any particular individual’s style in my writing, but rather I have selectively chosen elements from many writers over time. There are elements that I like from a wide variety of authors and I would say my style is hard to pinpoint. I try to keep my details concise yet evocative, my thoughts flighty but evident that they emerged from the previous sentence… but I am also okay with writing phrases that might come across as being out in left field if I really want to say something a particular way.
Can you talk a bit about your writing process? How you prepare to write? Is there a consistent environment you like to write in, or do you prefer to utilize spur of the moment inspiration?
My writing process heavily varies depending on the type of work I am constructing. As the style of “Iowa is for Lovers” is prose, my approach is just as erratic as some of the “content leaps” from sentence to sentence. I don’t necessarily write in the same environment and I rely on spur of the moment thoughts. I might be in the grocery store and write something down on my shopping list to use at a later point in time or quick jump up out of bed at night to jot some thoughts down. Interestingly enough, although I may write ideas on scrap paper here and there, I primarily like to write on my laptop, as it is much easier for me to streamline my thoughts. One place I absolutely cannot write poems though is sitting on my couch; I get writer’s block so bad I’m pretty much useless.
My goal of writing a prose poem is to make sure that it comes across similar to daydreaming. One thought leads to the next, and though there seems to be some disconnect on the surface, there still has to be some underlying tone or story holding the piece together.
What do you find to be your biggest personal challenge when it comes to writing? What do you find to be the biggest aid?
My biggest challenge is not using 1,000 words to describe something. I tend to be long-winded and am consciously aware of this flaw. When I first start writing something, I just write out whatever my thoughts are, even if they are convoluted and don’t make much sense together. Then I take some time to get to the root of what I’m “trying to say” by cutting out words accordingly and really getting to the point while still maintaining my artistic liberties.
My biggest aid to my writing is that I’ve traveled a lot and worked in the service industry for over six years, so I’ve really met and talked to a wide range of people. Everyone has a story of his/her own and it is so interesting to hear what people have to say about his/her respective lives and stories that accompany them. I love drawing on inspiration from people I’ve met and places I’ve been. Hence the fact I wrote a whole poem about Iowa yet lived in Wisconsin my entire life.
What’s the most significant way your upbringing has affected your work?
My dad died when I was eleven and I’d be lying if I said that his death didn’t affect my life and the person I’ve become. However, nobody wants to read (or write for that matter) an intense “dead father” poem over and over again, so I just avoid that chapter of my life in terms of blatantly writing about his death and the personal sadness that carried through so many years of my life after. With that being said, losing a parent at such a young age really forced me to grow up and significantly cut out a portion of my childhood, so I think a lot of themes that tend to run through my poems are those of independence, making tough decisions, childhood nostalgia, and even those of “getting over” something.
However, like I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve traveled a considerable amount and that certainly is a huge inspirational factor in my writing. Prior to my father’s death, my family traveled all the time; my wanderlust was therefore furnished at a young age. My wanderlust has reemerged and exponentially increased as I’ve gotten older and I enjoy letting that side of me emerge through my writing and affect my work accordingly.