So, the Gal Friday of Quiddity, and writer Amy Sayre, asked me to be a part of her blog tour, answering 4 questions about my own writing. As I’ve been neck-deep in laying out the Fall issue of Quiddity, as well as working on the VLA Summer Teen Writing Camp, it’s important to take a moment and remember why I’m doing what I’m doing—at the end of the day, I feel very fortunate to be in a place in my life where job and passion intersect. Here are 4 A’s to 4 Q’s…
1.) What are you working on?
Beyond getting the next issue of Q out on time, I’ve actually gone back to a project I started while I was working on my MFA at Wilkes University. In a prior life, I was a social worker specializing in children with Autism. I am working on a poetry cycle that focuses on the world of autism. I have about sixty plus poems written and several have already been seen the light of day in publication. I have recent sent out a new packet of re-worked pieces for consideration. I also have a weekly column at Sun Dog Lit called “Best Worst Year,” and will be returning from Summer break on the column this month.
2.) How does your work differ from others in your genre?
My writing is choc-full-o-niacin, which has been shown to greatly improve joint mobility and staving off osteoarthritis.
Like any solid writing, I hope my voice comes through the words on the page. Good art is good conversation, and I can’t assume to know what an audience connects with when it comes to what I’m writing. East Coast Pinoy in the Midwest with a record collection and a heart condition seems to be a pretty limited market.
3.) Why do you write what you do?
Because I have to. I think we have little choice in what we choose to write—it chooses us. It’s much like our aesthetics—what we connect with has so much to do with what we were exposed to at a formative age that sometimes we don’t even know why we like what we like—we just like it. I don’t particularly write about topic X because that’s what I want to write about. It may be a product of writing on deadlines, or knowing that I need to have X done for work. The page has always meant freedom to me, and as a result, I usually don’t have a plan when it comes to the page. That’s not to say I write “when the spirit moves me” or that I chase “the muse.” Writing’s work. You put the hours in but I can’t push or systematically plot out what’s next. When it comes to something like “Best Worst Year,” Justin (my editor) didn’t give me any real structure to follow (word count, topics, timetable, pay schedule) and if you’ve looked at how it evolved over the last year plus, it’s become more and more lyrical and sounds much less like a linear narrative. In the last six months, I’ve dropped first person and have moved to “you” as a device. In a way, second person feels more intimate for the pieces. This wasn’t something I had planned from the start—it had to get there naturally. I don’t know if it would be genuine (or nearly as good) if I had such a flight plan from the get-go.
I know what I write, I don’t write what I know. I write everyday, usually at about 6 AM regardless of what’s going on or what went on the night before. I’ve been writing this way for almost ten years. Norman Mailer called it “showing up for the troops,” and in a way, it gets the issue of writer’s block or will-I-write-today out of the way. That’s not to say what I’m writing first thing in the morning is good (or even legible). If I don’t write—even if I know for a fact what I’m writing is absolute horseshit—I can tell. Writing is how I process the world; how I unpack the day. It doesn’t matter if it’s seen by a few friends, between the pages of a journal, or no one. I know that I wrote and ultimately, I’m the only audience I can ever truly rely on to read every bit of my work.