What made you want to become a writer?
I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t write – maybe when I was very young but even then I was still telling stories (mainly to my younger sister). I do know that an early influence of mine was my grandfather, who was also a poet. I realized that if a prairie farmer with a 7th grade education could write poetry than so could I. I haven’t stopped since!
Was the journey difficult?
There have been difficult portions! The current book I’m writing comes to mind – it’s all form poetry, medieval and Renaissance forms of verse – and it can be a challenge to make all the rhyming and repeating lines flow and sound natural. Having friends who are willing to read my writing in progress and critique it is an enormous help. My other obstacle is not having enough hours in the day to both live and write!
Any lessons learned on your writer’s journey?
I keep a notepad and pen/pencil with me wherever I go – so that when I get an idea I can write it out and not risk losing it. I have also learned that inspiration comes from a far wider variety of sources than I had ever imagined. I have also learned that I can write wherever I am, if I need to (one of the bonuses to being a poet!). Most of Songs from the Nightingale Hotel was written while I was at work!
Where does that inner drive to write come from?
I get an idea and then I have to write it. I have had poems literally smack me between the eyes and say “Write me, already.” I’ve been woken up from a sound sleep, pulled out of the bathtub (the poem “Gravid” in Surfacing From Night references this), and been struck by inspiration in the most unlikely places. I suppose it all comes down to seeing the world in words and wanting to share that. That, and my poetry is very much a diary for me and I know that if I’ve felt a particular emotion that I cannot be alone in feeling it.
How do you keep readers turning pages?
I would hope by making my poetry as interesting as possible to the reader!
How often will you revise and re-write your work?
I’ll revise until I’m happy with something and then I leave it alone!
What are some creative ways you’ve learned to generate ideas?
I read voraciously – and I don’t restrict myself to fiction or poetry either. I read history, biography (there is a poem from the point of view of Joan of Arc in Surfacing), mythology, fairy tales, anything except the news. I find the news unbearably depressing and that is not a good headspace for a writer.
What are some practical solutions for writer’s block?
When I get stuck on something, I will frequently give it a time out and go write something else. Yes, I realize being a poet means I have the luxury of this, but I know that even fiction writers can go write a different chapter, a different scene etc as a break. I’ll also go read something completely new – maybe a new book of mythology – for motifs that I can incorporate into my work.
Do you have a favorite book?
This is a tough choice for me! I am a bibliophile with a large collection of well-loved and cherished books but the one I keep coming back to is The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay (who is also Canadian). I love his use of language, his repetition of key phrases, his characterization, his research skills and his story. Everytime I read it, I cry for completely different reasons (and I have read this book twenty-plus times).
Do you have a favorite time of day when you like to write?
Afternoons or evenings (and occasionally the middle of the night). I work evenings so I tend to write while at work or at home after work. I very rarely am awake in the morning to write (or I probably would write then too)
What is one saying or proverb you live by?
Just do it! My New Years Resolution this year was to eliminate phrases like “When I get around to it”, “When I get brave enough”, “When it’s the right time” and all those other phrases and JUST DO IT. In the spirit of that, I’ve published three books this year (and am aiming to have a fourth out for Christmas) and gotten a tattoo!
What advice would you give kids who wish to pursue a career in writing?
Keep writing – I look at a lot of my very early poetry and I cringe but the experience of putting pen to paper (and fingers to keyboard – I write equally long hand and on the computer) will eventually lead to results. I’d also recommend reading – and when you find something that moves you, read it again and again until you figure out how the author did it. Then take that and use it with your work.
Where can parents and kids find out more about your work?
My personal website is <a href=”http://members.shaw.ca/seacastle“>Seacastle Press</a> and books can be ordered in both print and ebook format from <a href=”http://www.lulu.com/seacastle“>Seacastle Press @ Lulu.com</a>
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