What made you want to become a writer?
I’m not sure I actually wanted to be a writer…it just seemed like the most convenient means of expression for me. Poetry was a way that I could channel my emotions constructively and creatively. It was a way to reach out to people. I’m not sure I still actually think of myself as a “writer”. I’m just someone who writes.
Was the journey difficult? Any help? Any obstacles?
Since writing was never a professional desire, the journey was not one of a specific nature. I have written poetry off and on for my entire life. The recent push to actually publish came from friends who have enjoyed reading my work and who encouraged me to share it with others. My son and daughter also encouraged me to publish. My son actually designed the cover of my book and was my art consultant for the interior. Publishing can be an obstacle in itself. I decided to self publish with lulu.com. It then became a rewarding and very interesting process and I had the publishing part finished within six weeks.
Any lessons learned on your writer’s journey?
Well, I believe that a writer’s journey is the journey of life, so in that respect, I certainly hope I have learned some lessons along the way. As a writer I have learned that it is easier to grow and expand if there are other writers who challenge you and write along side of you. I became affiliated with the Black Rose Poet’s Society, and found that the scope and quality of my work both expanded greatly. I learned that if you write from the heart you will touch readers more deeply. Honesty in writing is felt in the same way it is face to face.
Where does that inner drive to write come from?
Inner drive is a great way to put it. I know that some writers can do quality work on demand, with focus, almost scientifically. I can produce on demand, but there is no guarantee it will be of my best quality. My best work comes from that inner drive, that strong emotion that demands to be immortalized in words. Something will enter my head..maybe a single phrase..and I just need to stop what I’m doing and follow that trail with words. That’s definitely where my best work comes from.
How do you keep readers turning pages?
Poetry is different from novels. With a novel, you can develop wonderful characters that people get to know and want to keep following. You can develop complex and challenging plots that stimulate the reader into wanting more. The appeal of poetry is much more ethereal. It’s all about emotion, images, and touching the reader’s soul. I think that’s where the honesty comes from. If you write honestly, you naturally reach out to people. They recognize something in your work that rings a chord deep within them. I think that’s how a poet has to keep readers coming back.
How often will you revise and re-write your work?
Once again, revision of poems is a very different process, I believe, than it would be with a novel. With a novel, I’d probably be revising and re-working things much more than I do with my poetry. Some poems stay exactly as they were the first time I composed them. I do read a new poem over and over until I’m satisfied that I said what I wanted to say. I often change a single word here and there to help the flow and meaning. Since it’s an emotional expression for me, I have found that keeping it as close to the original outflow as possible retains the purest form of what I was trying to express.
What are some creative ways you’ve learned to generate ideas?
Good question. Once again, this is how as a poet I find it extremely helpful to be associated with other fine poets who can do just that. The Black Rose Poet’s Society is a group of poets who are dedicated to pushing the limits of the imagination and the scope of human existence, and who constantly challenge each other to expand. When one person is at a loss for ideas, another will come up with a great one, sharing it with the group, and each of us responds in a unique way. Also, being able to brush off on each other’s styles helps us expand in that area, as well. Sometimes my ideas come from very unlikely places. Once I was ironing a shirt I had stamped a beautiful design on the back and I came up with a very cool descriptive poem called “Rayon Phoenix”. I think ideas are all around us. If we are writers we just have our minds open to looking at everything in life as a potential subject. Looking at pictures and listening to music can also be an inspiration for a new idea for me.
What are some practical solutions for writer’s block?
I believe that bouncing ideas off of someone else, or more than one someone, is a great way to kick start the writing again. With poetry, people can help each other with ideas. With a novel, I think someone else’s view of what was written thus far may add a new dimension that would chart the course for the new direction. Sometimes your mind just needs a break, though. Writer’s block isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could be the pre-cursor to a soon to come flurry of writing. Like everything in life, there are tides. We just need to learn to flow with them.
Do you have a favorite book?
I’m not sure I have a favorite single book. I lean towards fantasy in genre. I read Lord of the Rings trilogy in the late 1960s and loved it then as I still do. I love Weis and Hickman. I love to read things that tickle my imagination.
Do you have a favorite time of day when you like to write?
My life tends to be fairly hectic, so my favorite times to write are the quiet times. Sometimes that is late at night and other times it’s in the morning. I just need to be left alone when I write. I usually write a poem fairly quickly, but once the words start flowing I find it very disruptive if I’m distracted. I’ve actually “lost” poems like that.
What is one saying or proverb you live by?
I think there are a lot of sayings that I would say I’ve lived by, but the overpowering one that colors all the rest is that “All life is one”. I believe that if a person realizes that, it is hard not to respect everything and everyone you come in contact with.
What advice would you give kids who wish to pursue a career in writing?
I would tell them to experiment and find the types of writing that feel most natural for them. Writing needs to mature as we mature and should always be worked on, but the most important part is to ENJOY your writing. If it isn’t fun to do then it isn’t right for you.
Where can parents and kids find out more about your work?
My book, “Elemental Expression”, can be purchased and previewed at www.lulu.com/caroldigoupoet and can be purchased at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
Copyright 2005-2011, Jolene Owen. All rights reserved. This interview is free to copy, publish and circulate. You may reprint or publish it without permission in any format. Please credit: Jolene Owen as interviewer. The views expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the interviewer or the official position of the publishing company, its various departments and/or the Institute of Interactive Journalism. If you’d like to be interviewed, or would like to send our team an interview, or just send us lots of gifts and candy, contact us at: email@example.com. Please do not try to contact interviewees through the institute. We never release confidential information or fwd messages. No exceptions.