Out of the blue a couple weeks ago I get this random, “Hey, ya wanna write something” message from a guy named Robert Rife out in the Pacific Northwest somewhere. And I think, “He must not know me.”
I mean, seriously: Do I want to write something? Would a kitten like a ball of yarn? Yeah, baby, bring it on!
Turns out, we’ve been reading each other’s work for quite some time, and it took me a bit to piece it together and say, “Oh, you’re THAT Robert Rife.” See, Rob is this very cool, gifted, and generous poet-musician. On his blog innerwoven, which I’ve been following for a while, he writes about “places where life, liturgy, theology and the arts intersect with and promote spiritual formation.” And as such, it serves as a quite fitting intersection for this Blog Hop.
You see, it so happens that the purpose of this whole exercise is to connect writers in a tighter community and edify the extended writing/reading community with responses to a set of questions. Make some new intersections and such. Rob’s good at that. His contribution to this Blog Hop can be found on his site more focused on poetry and “words about words,” Rob’s Lit Bits.
Without further ado, here’s my ball of yarn, or rather contribution to this here Hop:
1. What am I working on?
As far as writing, I’m in a bit of an “in-between” time, with a focus on promoting my book “Spare Buttons” which is currently available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press. It includes 26 poems of varying length, though mostly of the micro-type (e.g. haiku, senryu, tanka). Press run is determined by advance sales (any sales between now and August 8), hence the push at this time.
Also, I’ve been asked to contribute a chapter about poetry to a book with lots of other authors who I am absolutely in awe of. But I don’t think I can talk about it publicly yet, so we’ll have to leave it with “more about that at a later date.”
Truth be told, what I’m actually working on: gearing up for a new job which has very little to do with poetry as I scale down from another job which also has little to do with poetry – other than the poetry of life. My full-time work over the past decade-plus has been in support of education, non-profit organizational change, and youth in transition to adulthood, with a focus on youth mentoring. It being summer, my greatest aspirations at the moment are to rest, enjoy my family, pick fresh herbs from the backyard garden, and do the backstroke in a lazy lake.
2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Most of my poetry at this time is short. I mean micro-short, like haiku and tanka. I write frequently about random quirky stuff in my life, so in that way it might differ (but maybe not) from other poets that write micropoetry. It’s mostly observational, you might say. For example, here’s a recently tweeted bit:
Rake on dry grass
Pencil on a blank page
What faith sounds like
I don’t feel qualified to compare my work with other haiku or tanka poets, as I don’t really feel qualified even to be in that “club.” To do haiku “right” is really hard, much harder than it looks, so I prefer to go by the more generic term “micropoetry.” But I can talk with some authority about how my work now differs from my earlier poetry. As I get older, I feel less inclined to write something deep or profound. I’d rather point and say, “Huh. Would you look at that?” Readers bring enough depth to the page. I just want to stay out of their way.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I write because the practice of it is enough for me. I love it.
I write poetry because I’m pretty good at imagery but terrible at plot development.
I write short poetry because, during this season in my life, I have the attention span of a gnat.
And I blog to create community; because I am at core a relational being; because it takes a collaborative effort – a “we” – to inspire, create, and illuminate.
4. How does my writing process work?
Process? Oh, my. As I write this now, I am sitting in the play area of a McDonald’s, semi-blocking out the screaming-laughing children crawling through the pipes and popping out the slide end like lottery balls. I half-ignore my sweating son as he happily gulps his ice-water and informs me of his latest friends. (“And what are their names?” I ask. “I don’t know,” and off he goes on his happy way to make more nameless friends. Children are awesome this way. So uncomplicated in their trust of fun and friendship.)
My process is whatever it has to be. I write in the margins of life.
What it looks like for me usually is first a blank screen. I mostly write via computer, though I do have many partially-filled paper notebooks lying about the house, in my purse, anywhere I can get at them when needed. I just start typing. If I don’t have a prompt – a question I’m trying to answer, a post topic assigned to me – I usually will give myself a time limit and just start with the date and time, then what’s fresh on my mind at the moment – which is usually something inane about how I have nothing meaningful to write. It’s a way in, a place to start. I never stay there. Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” was an early influence on this practice. “Don’t think. Just write.”
The thinking comes later, in the rewrite and edit, which is also play.
Ok, that’s me hopping, and now I commend you to the following bright lights, three friends I am grateful to include in my writing community.
Dr. Crystal Hurd is an educator, writer, and researcher from Virginia, and a regular contributor to my blog. A self-proclaimed “book nerd” and Dr. Who fan, her interests include reading, writing, photography, and listening incessantly to MUTEMATH. Crystal loves discussing C.S. Lewis as well as various aspects of spirituality, apologetics, and leadership theory. Oh, and her dogs. With all of the times we have talked, skyped, and emailed, I have to remind myself that we have never actually “met” in person.
I met Scott Morgan online a couple years ago at just the right moment, as I was beginning to take myself “seriously as a writer.” He helped me, as he has so many others, write for the jugular. He’s a no-nonsense editor, speaker, and writing professional consistently lifting up the profession with refreshing honesty, wit, and character.
Dr. Holly Ordway is a poet, academic, and Christian apologist on the faculty of Houston Baptist University. She writes, speaks, and teaches on cultural apologetics, specifically the role of imagination and literature in apologetics, with special attention to the work of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and Charles Williams. A frequent houseguest of the Belmontes, Holly has even been spotted weeding my garden beds.