I. What can you write about now that you couldn't write about a year ago?
I think... what I couldn't write about a year ago has more to do with my decisions experience with growth. It's not necessarily that I couldn't, it was just that, I didn't for multiple reasons like emotions, events etc and because I just wasn't there mentally. What I can and am or will write now, that I wasn't able to last year is: works...concerning my faith; things about my identity as a Christian, a believer in Christ... things concerning my convictions, beliefs, experiences and feelings with confidence and truth. I am able to do that now because I had to learn to do it sincerely and in the right way and I had to build my faith.
II. In your belief, what can and can't writing do?
I think the ability and power that writing has can vary based on the writer and their beliefs, but I suppose I would say that in a general sense, writing can inspire, provoke, challenge, confuse, empower, Etc— it can be a starting point to what you want it to do, or it can be a guide through the process. Generally, I think, writing cannot actually do the tangible work that needs to be done to change the world or the world of an individual. What I mean by that is... writing is the agent, it's the tool we use for application to do what needs to be done. We are the doers and writing is what can be used to do it. for example, writing can provoke someone to forgive but it's the person who has to do the action of forgiving... so we can write it all down—ideas, thoughts, dreams, policies, vision— make sense of it, plan, and all that stuff but nothing's going to get done with it sitting there on the page ya know? We as writers and readers give writing the power to come alive. Really, I think my writing can do whatever I want it to do, but of course it might take some work to get it there.
III. What can a writer do if they feel they can't write and/or what can a reader do if they feel challenged/confused by a writers or your works? What can't they do?
Before I answer the first question I'm going to start by answering the second. What both writers and readers can't do concerning their own writing or readings is they can't just assume things...without explanation, proof, investigation. They can't just assume something is literal or even the opposite, that something is not literal; they can't just assume they know what's going on or what something means; and with that, but above all, they cannot just assume something is boring or stupid or irrelevant or wrong or that something doesn't make sense without really looking, reading, questioning etc-- Yes writing is challenging and can be confusing but to simply assume makes it all the more difficult and puts a fence around your minds ability to learn and your hearts openness to feel.
When a writer feels like they can't write they can't assume they can't write because they "just can't" or that they can't write because they weren't "born writers" or that they can't write because they don't like it. When a writer feels like they can't what they can do is believe they can, yet if they feel they can't believe then I think they need to just stop trying to believe and just "do" it. Sometimes the belief comes in the process or after it is done.
The thing is... because you feel a certain way doesn't mean you can't..too many times we let our emotions make decisions for us... just because I may feel down or insecure about something doesn't mean that what I need or am trying to do is defined by that emotion or that emotion defines who I am. I can feel insecure and still do it (whatever that "it" is); just because I'm having a depressive episode doesn't mean I can't or that I'm not what I truly am under the pain. If I'm in the middle of an emotion, it's not that I can't or I'm not, it's just a matter of if I will or won't. if I'm a good person at my core, whether I'm having a depressive episode or I feel dumb or whatever feeling, I'm still that good person regardless.
If a reader feels challenged, confused about my writing or any writing in general what they can do and should always do is ask for/get help—have questions don't just settle for "I don't get it" really try to figure out what it is exactly challenging or confusing you— have someone go over it with you, assist you. What they can do is do a close reading: read slow, read line by line, use a dictionary, research etc. What they can do above all, is know that writing is timeless and if you don't get something at first, that's okay. You have to be willing and you have to dive back in and keep digging. You have to know that sometimes it takes multiple reads, investigations and time to come to an understanding. And you have to know that sometimes the understanding you have at one time can change when you go back at another time. I think if you are confused about something or challenged that's the best place to be as a reader because you're about to travel and (if willing) discover great things about not only the text but yourself and/or the world.
IV. What is something that can harm your writing or a person's writing?
I think, not thinking about writing and not revising or questioning my work is something that can harm my writing. I didn't want to say "not writing" because there are periods that I go through in which I don't write poems at all or write anything and I'm okay with that but I'm always thinking about writing. And if I'm not thinking about it then my writing suffers when I go to write, sort of like it becomes a rusty pipe and it erodes. If I'm not revising (and I don't necessarily mean big revisions) it's harmful because then the work becomes stagnant and complacent...it becomes dead water and when water doesn't flow it becomes a cesspool of bacteria. I believe that, not just for my writing personally but for any writer. I also think being fearful and not letting other people read your work, question your work, or even play with your work can be harmful to your work and to you as a writer.
IV (b). What do you mean by "play with your work"?
When I was in grad school, in a workshop with Idra Novey, one of my favorite workshop mates, Tatum, would just start moving lines around and flipping things in my poems.. Idra would do this too sometimes. Tatum would just move lines around, take words out.. etc. She would say, "I was just playing around and check this out" It wasn't to take control or make the poem the way they wanted it but it was just an experiment, it gave a new lens. I really enjoyed that and I've been doing that ever since and I do it to other people's work. Sometimes it's just fun, it's like legos..you can build what's on the box or you can build whatever you want. Sometimes you can end up with two different poems that use the same words, it's cool and I believe that it can be very helpful.
V. Can poetry/creative writing do anything for other disciplines/fields? and vice versa?
Of course it can. Sometimes other disciplines feel so boxy and rigid, creative writing can push those walls out, It can give those fields a different lens to see things and problem solve differently. And versa those disciplines can give structure or not, or the same, provide new lens, new ideas, etc. I think it can do a lot, that was just the first thing that came to mind. I don't know why people put creative arts on one end and other disciplines on another, I don't think they are total opposites... I think it's a spectrum and I think that they can mix with one another. If different spices can be mixed in cooking then so can fields and disciplines.