I. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell her simply, "Take Heart." I value my current writer self and the journey I have taken to get here. So when I look back it is only those words that can sum it all up. A lot of people think, "I wish I knew then what I know now" which is valid however for me I feel no matter if I knew what I know now, back then I would still make foolish mistakes, I would still lose myself and still have to come into truth. All I would say to her is take heart. Take heart & in addition, you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
II. Do you think there are misconceptions that people have about you and your writing? Or the genre that you write in as a whole. If so what do you think they are?
Of course. I'm not sure I can pin point any particular ones, right now, off the top of my head but I'm mean... the moment I tell someone I'm a writer or that I write poetry... those words have misconception all over it. Most of the time, I get the slow clap kind of reactions. The oh... that's cool... reactions with no passionate interest behind it. Once someone told me out right: "wow, that sounds boring!" So I mean, as a writer, as poet specifically, we are misunderstood but I believe we are like secret weapons in the world and people have no idea the power we harness and the value of us.
III. What is your favorite thing about writing poems? In your writing process, what brings you the most happiness?
My favorite thing is when I've written something and then I forget about it so when I read it again..I have this moment of surprise like, wow I actually wrote this? -- I don't always remember things I write so my surprise is always authentic though it feels strange--When I was a teenager, I wrote a poem for my cousin EJ, when he passed. And years later when I had a conversation with his significant other, we were talking about him and she said something like yeah.. and the poem you wrote I loved it so much. & I literally was looking at her strange because I did not remember writing a poem for him. I honestly said wow, I did? wow I don't remember... and I laugh because it happens not as a once in a blue moon thing but often.-- So I love the surprise. the good surprise and the repulsed surprise... (the surprise that is like, wow I can't believe I wrote this, I could write better than this..what the heck kind of metaphor is this what was I thinking).. it makes me smile and laugh.
What brings me the most happiness when it comes to my process I would say is the process, lol. There are times when I working on a poem and I'm so frustrated with it because it's not coming together how I imagined or how I feel it to be in my spirit and then when it finally comes together to something fresh and peaceable it's not just a relief feeling but it's joyous. It's that.. it's all worth it feeling. Also the simple fact that I'm a writer and I'm the writer that I am today makes me feel happy and humbles me. I don't think being a writer is for the faint of heart nor is it easy. It may be looked as lesser in our society but in my eyes it is a powerful ability, and gift. Sometimes, especially when I have a moment and I feel I wrote a really good poem, I just get filled with joy and I start praising God because my heart is like wow, I got entrusted with this ability. wow, I'm just the penholder but power comes out in the ink and my hand is in this. It's very beautiful to me because God could have gave me any other ability.. but he chose this one and what he chooses has immense purpose and value. Writers are fearfully and wonderfully made and writing is invaluable.
IV. What are your current writing challenges that you face? How do you or how have you dealt with solving them?
Besides revision in of itself, I think one of the main challenges I have is.. identifying the "box" my thinking is in, or my poem, or writing-- generally-- is in and then breaking out of it. It it easy to say, "think outside the box" or "do something out of the box" but the action of that looks different in various circumstances. You say that to someone and they will respond "okay" but they may not know what that box is. That box isn't always something cliché, sometimes it's a writerly habit, or words that we are in love with and use a lot, and sometimes the box is stealthy and you feel something is there but you can't figure out what it is. Also to point out, something I just thought of is.. what if that box you are telling someone to get out of isn't there box? what if what you see is your misconceptions, presumptions and what you in of yourself are used to that are creating a box that ain't supposed to be there and that's why it is easy for you to tell someone else to get out of the box... Also, that piece may be getting out of the box for them... it may be something new and different for them even though it isn't for you, so in that light, I think we should always use that phrase with caution and if we do use it, we should know what we mean and be ready with examples or suggestions to help the person to do it.
& I know attach to that question is, then how do you know when you've done it. For me personally, I think some writerly challenges are on going.. it's not like Yes, I've did it. now on to something else. I think some challenges are perpetually and will keep showing up but will look different & this getting out of the box thing is one of them. One of the ways I would say that I can gage if I've gotten out of the box for myself is.. if I did something that just makes no sense whatsoever but for some reason it works. Or if what I wrote or did-- for example, with form, completely surprises me. I think there are many ways to get out of the box and break down barriers but I also think the key isn't always getting out of it but it's identifying it. To add, the amazing thing about identifying the box is that you don't necessarily have to break out of it...you can do something mind-blowing or unique inside the box... after all that is the magic of traditional or formal poetry. If we're too irritated by the rules then we miss out on the magic that is within them.
V. Do you listen to music when you write, have the tv on, or do you need silence to write? If any, what song, album, movie or television show inspires you to write? b.) Do you write better stationary or on go the go? How does your environment influence your writing?
It is various. Sometimes I just don't feel like listening to music when I'm writing and other times I listen to what matches my mood or what I feel matches what I'm trying to write. Sometimes, I put music on only in the beginning to hype myself and get myself feeling good. Lastly, one show I love, which I feel inspires me every time, is the show HOUSE MD. The show is basically a team of doctors over seen by medical genius Gregory House who solves these really complex and facinating medical mysteries. So sometimes, I honestly feel like thats what I'm doing when I sit down to write or when I'm revising; I'm presented with a problem, I'm doing a differential diagnosis, I'm set back and I have all this other stuff going on while I'm trying to diagnose and treat. I love it because I think the writing process and medical process are and can be similar.
b). I write on the go very rarely... and if I write on the go its usually never a poem to be honest. I have recently tried that method...writing poems or working on poems on the go, and I found that it does not work for me. I was on the go working on a poem and I missed my stop on the train twice and I ended up on the wrong train twice all because my focus was more on working the poem than my surroundings and where I'm going. I have found when I write it is difficult for me to do multiple things at once. I have to focus and write only and neglect other things because trying to write and pay attention to other things will not work, even with eating. I can't even eat while writing I either write and my food gets cold or I have to eat and then write.
I think environmental influence has a part in anything not just writing. But I would say if I'm in a cluttered and messy environment it has a negative influence on my writing, in that, it is difficult for me to focus and work. If the environment is loud and people are chattering, being loud, and or trying to talk to me while I write, I can't work. On the flip side of that, I can write in an environment that's completely quiet but I work better if there is at least some level of noise. I need to at least hear cars honking or leaves rustling.. something.. lol. It's probably because I was born and raised in NYC and not the country. so, If it is completely quiet and it's an indoor envirnment, say like the library, that is most likely when I will put music on. If it's quiet but its in nature then I can work with that because it's not actually dead quiet there is sound, it's just subtle. The thing with noise and silence as it pertains to my work flow is that, the complete quiet is most effective for me before I start or when I partially done and I'm re-reading to myself. During, I think my words and the sound of the poem can feed off the sounds in the backdrop and to me that's a cool thing.