I’d like to thank Jodi Cleghorn for extending the invitation to write about my writing process. Jodi is one of those quiet achievers in the speculative fiction scene, she runs Emergent Publishing, she writes, by her own admission “dark weird shit”, has recently had a novella published and continues to surprise herself (but perhaps not those that know her) by making headway as an accidental poet.
What Am I working on at the moment?
In creative writing terms, my poetry. In particular, trying to explore writing free-verse which everyone seems to write but which no one seems to provide any explicit teaching on. Specifically though I have just finished and subbed a poem called A Shepherd Mourning, which began its life as a Shakespearean sonnet and which I decided to write as a free verse poem after reading some essays by American Poet Lawrence Schimel. It was inspired by a glance at our local war memorial.
My work in progress is another attempt at free verse which seems to be focussed on themes of rural abandonment again instigated by my observation of an abandoned church.
How do you think your work differs from that of other writers in your genre?
I have only really been writing poetry seriously for about 18 months and in that 18 months I am not sure I have even got a handle on the nature of poetry writing in Australia so how I differ I can only say in broad terms. One noticeable difference is that I am much more interested and pleased by poetry that uses traditional form, rhyme and metre. My first paid publication was a rhyming pantoum in iambic tetrameter, a poem that even some months on really effects me emotionally. You can play it from the Soundcloud link to the right. In terms of themes, or genres I tend to write more realist/ observational poetry and there’s certainly a social justice angle to some of it.
Why do you write what you do?
I write poetry because I find that I can hold the idea of a poem, in its entirety, in my head. I can hold the essence of what it is and then the process is just working out details. It might take me a week to finish a poem to a first draft or considerably less if I am lucky and I don’t seem to build up the same amount of fatigue that occurs when I rip a short story apart. I also find all parts of the process; conception, writing, revising, immensely pleasurable.
With form poetry there’s a degree of satisfaction in “solving the problem”, of making the poem work under constraints of metre and/or rhyme. Usually when I finish a short story I hate it and don’t want to see it for a long time.
What's your writing process, and how does it work?
I carry a paper and pen everywhere I go. Lots of things operate as a catalyst: trying new forms, reading about poetic technique, observations, the sounds of language, dialogue etc.
My current work in progress began on the back of a printed essay. I then transferred it to my Poetry Zoo account where it’s undergone several drafts. I like to create new drafts( a feature of Poetry Zoo), because on occasion I come back to what I wrote first as being the better idea or choice of words. Then I also transfer the most recent version to a Google document (backup, backup, backup). When I have something solid I take it to my writing group, who have a variety of experience or I might perform it just to get some feedback. I try and work on some poetry every week, practicing and learning, stretching myself and find it easier to be inspired when I do.
So that’s me and as is traditional in these sort of posts I must select some new
victims writers to entertain you. So lets take a trip overseas and mention:
Joyce Chng (Singapore)
Joelyn Alexandria (Singapore)