K.B. Holzman–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I absolutely agree with Virginia Wolfe and have always carved out a room on my own. When the door is closed, LEAVE ME ALONE.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I can’t imagine writing on anything else but a computer at this point. My handwriting long ago became illegible, even to me.

What is your routine for writing?

I try to write every morning, although I often lay in bed the early hours before sunrise thinking through my stories. Walks can also be very useful in puzzling out what comes next.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I always wanted to write, and participated in the poetry scene in Manhattan in the 1970s. Recently, I returned to writing prose.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

As an avid reader, my ideal writer is my fellow readers.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

I have a great writing group which inspires me and, when all else fails, I rely on prompts. I have now participated in NaNoWriMo twice and, as a result, have two novels in the works.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

Yoga, biking, and hiking.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

I always try to remember that the act of writing is the greatest joy.  As Anne Lamott once said, publication is the crack but the true ecstasy is in process of creating.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Enjoy yourself!

Check out K.B.’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.

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John Rodzvilla–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I have a home office where I work. The room is a small bedroom off of another. It’s just big enough for a drafting table, a workstation and some bookcases and filing cabinets. I use both desks for creative work, including collage work and writing in notebooks.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I write longhand and online depending on the project. I have a collection of commonplace books and writing notebooks where most of the material goes to get lost. The computer is the only place that allows me to track my work. I have three essential tools: Scrivener, Adobe Creative cloud, and a Ahab fountain pen from Noodlers Ink. For whatever reason, the fountain pen works for me and my left-handed writing. I’ve tried other pens and this one seems to be a little more temperamental, but smears less and glides just right.

What is your routine for writing?

I’d like to say it’s to get up at 6 and write for an hour or so before the day starts, but so far this year I haven’t been that successful in getting up that early. When I do, it makes the day feel so much more productive and brighter. When I don’t get up early, I feel like I’m constantly trying to catch up throughout the day.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

The easy answer is all my life, but it’s only be the past decade or so that I’ve turned it into a routine. I think the idea of “writing” is like any other job. You can dabble in it for years, but true writing means getting up every day and dedicating time and energy to doing it. I’ve always had journals and jotted down story ideas or lines for poems, but I didn’t focus on a daily routine until I was in my 30s. Once I started a routine, I found the writing to feel more natural and the ideas more sustained.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I write for other poets and writers.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

I don’t allow myself to get blocked. Uninspired, yes, but not blocked. There’s always work to be done. I try to hit at least 1,000 words a day. If it’s a bad day, there’s always editing and reviewing notebooks to find old lines.

I also read everything. I review books for different publications in a variety of subjects. There’s so much history and writing that has been forgotten that I’m constantly finding new inspiration.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I spent most of high school and college working on fine arts, particularly print-making. I’ve been trying to find time to work in encaustics. When the weather is warm, I like to sit outside and whittle wooden chains. I also run two to three times a week.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

The focused work. Getting into a groove that leads to a state of flow.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Keep at it. Get a routine. Most of us still consider ourselves aspiring writers, and we all have bad periods. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just get back into a routine.

Check out John’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.

Laurie Kolp–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I like to write in my little nook behind the den. My dogs hang out with me there. Public spaces are too distracting for me, but I do take down a lot of notes as I observe what is going on around me when I am out and about.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I prefer to type. My hand gets tired when I write too much… I guess it’s out of practice or I’m just getting older.

What is your routine for writing?

I prefer early morning, waking up before anyone else and drinking my coffee at the computer. I get a lot accomplished on the weekends because everyone in my house sleeps late. Even during the workweek, I wake up in time to write before I leave for the day.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I started writing for fun as a child, edited newsletters at camp, and continued through high school on literary committees. During college, I veered off from writing I guess because of all the other kinds of work I had to do. I started back up when my kids were little, which was about 10 years ago.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I don’t really think of an ideal audience. I write because I have something to say. I feel lucky when my poetry is read, and I feel satisfied when my poetry touches someone.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

Anything can inspire me to write, and it can hit at any time. When blocked, I work on revisions or create found poetry. My favorite form lately has been centos. I have enough to fill a chapbook, and plan on working on it over the summer.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I teach 1st grade and am currently working on my Master’s degree in special education. I like to run, binge-watch Netflix, and spend time with my family.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Believe it or not, revision.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Create a routine for writing and stick with it. Read as much as you can. Never give up!

Check out Laurie’s work in Volume 2, Issue 2 and Volume 4, Issue 1.

Jamie Houghton–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I write on my couch with my laptop, assisted by three large dogs and a baby.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

I write by hand in a journal every day, but I write most of my poetry on my refurbished Mac laptop.

What is your routine for writing?

I write every morning for as long as I can.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I have been writing since I was a kid and a local poet did a class at our elementary school. Her name is Verandah Porche, and she is still writing.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I write for everyone.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

I am inspired by people’s stories. If I feel blocked, I forget about writing for a couple days or longer and concentrate on life.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I play the bass and ukelele, bake, Mt. bike, and enjoy the beauty of where I live, on the edge of the Deschutes National Forest, in Oregon.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

The first draft, when anything is possible.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Be willing to be rejected over and over again. The important thing is that you are always working on something new.

Check out Jamie’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.

Hilary Sideris–Interview

I write by hand on blank printer paper. I don’t like to write in a nice-looking notebook or with a special pen. I prefer a stubby pencil or ballpoint pen with some bank’s name on it, something that lets me be as messy as I want and lowers my expectations of the product. Even if I think the poem’s not going well, I usually type it up and then try to leave it alone for a few days, so I’ll be able to re-see it.

A desk at a window is good, a random poetry journal to flip through, maybe music in the background if the songs aren’t in English. I can’t do it every day, but I produce about a poem a week, many of which aren’t keepers but contain the seeds of future poems. A walk, preferably in the park, helps me think through the problems I’m having with a poem. Walking allows my mind to untie the knots.

I started writing poems when I was very young. As a teenager, I thought my poems were songs that should be set to music. (I didn’t know about contemporary poetry.). But I failed to find anyone willing to set my songs to music, mostly because they were terrible.

My audience is anyone who enjoys poetry – a small but high-quality audience. I don’t write for myself, but I love being in the trance-like state of composing. Opening an acceptance email is always euphoric. The hardest thing for any writer, I think, is the ongoing rejection. You have to decide at some point if you’ll be more miserable if you give it up or if you keep at it, knowing the rejection letters will never stop arriving, but that your best work will reach some readers and move them.

Check out Hilary’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.

D.G. Geis–Interview

I work primarily from my home in Lakehills, Texas. I have a small “study” converted from a bedroom. On the road, it’s a hotel room. And in my Galveston “studio/loft,” a closet with enough space for a mini-desk. I like working in tight spaces. It makes me feel like things are being squeezed out of me.

I generally type first drafts but always begin fleshing things out in longhand with an old-fashioned fountain pen. I have a thing for blue fountain pen ink. I think it’s the fluidity that turns me on. When you work with a fountain pen, there’s no time for regret. Most of my pieces begin life in a small pocket sized Moleskine notebook.

I work every day, but don’t really have a set time for writing. It’s generally in the morning and/or early afternoon. I live alone so I don’t obsess too much about routine. I just trust the work will get done—and usually, it does.

I’m a late bloomer. I did not begin writing poetry until I was in my early 60s.  However, I have been writing most of my life. My poetry really began as an extension of my passion for philosophy. I have kept notebooks since my early teens and wrestled conceptually with the same ideas and questions that play out in my poetry.

I don’t really write for anyone in particular. My audience is me. If I’m not surprised (or even shocked) by what I’ve written, then the reader won’t be. Because I am a lover (and huge consumer) of popular culture—i.e. tabloids, billboards, television, etc.—these invariably work their way into my writing. I think this helps make me accessible and hopefully fresh. I have two graduate degrees in philosophy, but have always considered myself a “ground thumper.” If you really pay attention to what’s around you, even tabloids at the checkout stand can sing.

What inspires me to write is the realization that the world we live in is such a magical and terrifying place. If I’m blocked, I typically wait it out, work on submissions, or try to resurrect a failed poem. Alternatively, I turn on the TV or read.

When I’m not writing poetry, I’m probably hiking or zipping around trails on a four-wheeler. I live in an isolated rural area in the Hill Country of Central Texas. I’m a former rancher and love being outdoors and am blessed to have the space to stretch out in.

My favorite part of the creative process is discovery. I love to be surprised. I also love the fact that imagination makes me “smaller.” And I love to laugh. Humor is an integral party of my creative (and personal) life.

My advice to aspiring writers is to keep notebooks and begin developing an open or more fluid mindset. Try to look at things as many different ways as you can. And develop friendships and relationships with people whose points of view, politically and aesthetically, are different from your own. It’s the only way to develop empathy.

Check out D.G.’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.

David Anthony Sam–Interview

 Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

Normally, I do my rewriting, revising, and submitting in our home office at a standup desk and on a PC. I have done first drafts and revisions on our porch, in hotel rooms, in restaurants, and outdoors. Years ago, when I owned a small music store, I learned how to rewrite (at a typewriter back then) through interruptions of customers−teaching me some discipline so that I could pick up where I left off.

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

Most of the time, I write first drafts with a Livescribe pen in a journaling notebook at night just before sleep. I like pen and ink and the Livescribe also captures the notebook in a PDF for backup. However, I have written first drafts on an iPad, a computer, on the back of scrap paper, and by speaking into a voice recorder, especially when driving.

For rewriting and revising, I began with a typewriter and now use a PC. I like the “cold type” to give me a certain distance from the wrong kind of ownership of first drafts.

What is your routine for writing?

First drafts are normally done in my nightly notebook with the Livescribe pen, though as I said above I have written them in multiple ways. I prefer to let the first drafts “marinate” for at least a couple months before I go back to them for revision and rewriting. Sometimes a poem wants me to work on the revisions right away. However, I have fallen very far behind rewriting−I am working on 2010 journals now. I use text-to-speech on my computer (and sometimes iPad) with both male and female, US and UK voices to help me hear them better and improve my redrafts.

I then send rewrites off by email to one or two friends who are good readers and critics and use their responses to help improve the drafts. My wife, who is not “into” poetry, often serves as a representative reader when I want my audience to be more general.

My poems are never done−and some have gone through decades of rewriting and double-digit numbers of drafts. But I do reach a point where some seem ready for submission. Happily, very occasionally, a first draft is blessed by the Muse and is done when written.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I wrote my first poem in fifth grade and my first story when I was 10 or so. In high school, I began more seriously writing fiction and some poetry. I was definitely no prodigy. In college at the age of 18 (February 1968) I committed to being a serious poet, to writing and rewriting every day, and I managed to keep that up until the middle 1990s when I ran out of gas or time or faith. There was a 10-year hiatus when I worked on a doctorate, a marriage, and a career that paid. In 2004, I recommitted to the daily routine and have largely kept to it since.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I have two audiences in mind: (1) A very small one of those who love reading poetry enough to spend time with it and have the patience to read my more “difficult” verse. And (2) a general audience of those who might respond to my more “accessible” poems from time to time. I do agree with Whitman that good poets need good audiences, but poetry should not merely be for the select few.

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

I am seldom inspired to write but I am almost never blocked either. I force myself to the pen and PC. Often, I have been surprised by a poem that seemed initially a failure after I slogged through it. Working the craft and self-discipline (even when I have to drag myself kicking and screaming to the task) have gotten me through apparent “blocks” and felt exhaustion.

But I suppose you could say that walks in nature, reading other’s poetry, reading science and history, and mulling my own biography offer doorways that I find useful.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I chose to live a career of service in higher education administration and part-time teaching that ended in 2017 with my retirement. I still will occasionally teach. Visits to creative writing classrooms as a guest author invigorate me. I enjoy nature walking and walking in general, cooking, travelling, reading, photography, and a good glass of wine with my wife and with friends.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

The surprise when I read one of my writings and ask “Where did that come from? It’s too good.”

The joy when someone reads a poem and responds in ways I could only hope for. Once I texted a wrong number out of state and stumbled on a person at the other end who actually knew I was a poet and had read and liked my work. That was amazingly serendipitous. And a few times a reader or listener at one of my readings told me how much an individual poem had mattered to them. In one case a young man told me that a particular poem had helped him through a rough time. How humbling and gratifying.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Read a lot of poetry and prose, not just in styles and forms you like. Be like an art student: copy those styles and forms and learn from them. Write, write, and rewrite twice as much. Don’t be discouraged by the naysayers, but also realize that your words are not gospel from the Fount and most times will need to be revised. Get to know some other writers who are generous−not all are−and share drafts with them. Submit when drafts seem ready−understanding that most will be rejected with little or useless feedback. Try not to take it too personally. Decide what is most important: getting published or writing what you must write. Keep submitting and learn what you can from acceptances and rejections. Realize that it is OK to want to be the next Shakespeare, Dickinson, etc. and strive for that−while knowing most of us will have poems and our names writ on water. Know that you will never feel that you have made it, that you are good enough. Keep writing anyway.

 

Check out David’s work in Volume 2, Issue 1, Volume 4, Issue 1, and upcoming in Volume 4, Issue 2.