Many thanks to Kelly Davio for inviting me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour! Kelly is the author of the poetry collection Burn This House (Red Hen Press), and she has a forthcoming novel in poems Jacob Wrestling, that will launch in Spring 2015 with Pink Fish Press. She is a former poetry editor for the Los Angeles Review, and is currently Poetry Editor of the brand new Tahoma Review, a beautiful literary magazine that actually pays authors!
You can read Kelly’s responses to the Writing Process questions here. I answer the same questions below:
1. What am I working on?
I am proofing the formatted manuscript of my poetry collection How Formal? (forthcoming with Spout Hill Press), and I am working on the continuation of the story that I began in my novel, The Puppet Turners of Narrow Interior. So far the new novel has magical chamomile tea, time travel, gypsies, Anabaptists, and 17th Century Montpellier in it. Also grad school – one of my recurring obsessions. To keep things rolling, I have given myself the impossible assignment of writing a reboot of the entire Grimm Brothers Fairy Tale Collection. This project is a trick to make me write and it’s working because the very idea of it scares me so much, that I write other stories just so I can avoid this enormous assignment. And I’m always writing poems. I make — on average — 1-2 a week.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m something of a genre outlaw. When I work with traditional formal requirements, I like to undermine and then demolish them. How Formal? plays with that dynamic. The collection starts with familiar, classical poetic forms: sestinas, sonnets, couplets, haiku. But I choose subject matter that puts stresses on these forms (going bankrupt, learning Hebrew, masturbation, academia) and I like the disruption that occurs when — for example — a beat up Chrysler enters the world of an elegant, “fancy” traditional poem. The work in each section of my collection becomes increasingly distorted formally – as the poems move from free verse to the prose poem, and then to wacky translations and adaptations of biblical literature and other famous poets (Plath, Shakespeare, cummings). But I always aim to keep my work understandable. I don’t believe that the avant-garde has to be something scary or overly cerebral. On the contrary – the avant-garde is all about FUN.
3. Why do I write what I do?
When I was 4, I played “Romeo and Juliet” with a rubber prince doll and a Madame Alexander doll (I think it might have been Queen Elizabeth). I had understood from a cartoon I had seen that R and J talk to each other from a balcony. I thought this was a ridiculous way to conduct a romance. So, I threw my doll playing Romeo out the window of my NYC apartment and then I threw the Juliet out too. This way they could have an intelligent conversation, and then run away and get married. I was very pleased with this brilliant idea, until my mother noticed the dolls on the window ledge of my grandfather’s workroom. He owned our building, and sewed dresses in the basement. Believe it or not, my eagle-eyed mother saw the dolls lying on the ledge in the rain at night! Oh — was I in trouble! But I’ll never forget the feeling of changing that old story, making it better, freer, and filled with possibility. And those dolls sailing out the window towards their destiny…Glorious. That’s the feeling I go for when I write. That feeling of a new story. Change. Freedom.
4. How does my writing process work?
I have a hate-love relationship with journaling. I go through a periodic month of rebellion, because I detest getting up early in the morning and sitting down and writing before I’ve had coffee. And then, I realize that I have to, because I’m not writing anything and feel stuck. So I start again. I type sometimes in a private online journal, but lately I’ve reverted to writing in a small black notebook (Leuchtturm 1917’s preferably because they are better sized than moleskines [and paginated!]). Lately I’m using a pencil because pencils remind me of being a little kid and I’m less judgmental about what I write. Sometimes I get an idea when I journal and sometimes I don’t, but at least I’ve started. The poet Marvin Bell says that starting is the main thing, and I would completely agree with that. As for revising – ugh. I do it, but I hate that too. Until I see how much better the work just got.
Next week the Writing Process Blog Tour continues to branch out next week with two (possibly three) amazing story-tellers from Washington State and Florida:
Claire Gebben. Claire was born and raised on the southeast side of Cleveland in Moreland Hills, Ohio, and penciled her first novel at age ten, 101 pages on blue-lined notebook paper. Claire’s writing has appeared in Shark Reef, The Speculative Edge, Soundings Review, The Fine Line, andColumbiaKIDS e-zine. Her first novel, The Last of the Blacksmiths appeared in February 2014 with Coffeetown Press.
Kaye Linden is an Aussie with an MFA in fiction from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. She served as short fiction editor and lead editor with the Bacopa Literary Review, has worked as a teacher of short fiction at Santa Fe College. She is currently assistant editor for Soundings Review and medical editor for “epresent learning lecture reviews.” Kaye’s first short story collection “Tales from Ma’s Watering Hole” is available where all books are sold. She is completing her second short story collection “She Wears Hot Pink Jeans,” which you can sample at her blog.