Thanks to Vallie Lynn Watson for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, wherein one writer answers four process-related questions before passing the torch to a few others. Read VLW's interview here. In remembrance of Nadine Gordimer, I'm threading some of her words in here.
What are you working on?
“Your whole life you are really writing one book, which is an attempt to grasp the consciousness of your time and place– a single book written from different stages of your ability.”
― Nadine Gordimer
My landscape is pretty constant: a smattering of essays; a few, straggling poems; the suggestion of stories somewhere in the background; and endlessly, it seems, a memoir, The Following Sea. Recently, a novel has been ghosting up with increasing frequency. We can reasonably expect that to be done in a few decades.
How does your work differ from others' work in the same genre?
“Everyone ends up moving alone towards the self." ― Nadine Gordimer
I was aghast when I saw this question lurking on the horizon a week ago. I will try to talk over the voice inside me, which keeps unhelpfully piping up, How about: it’s worse?
All I know is what separates any of us: the words we choose, the way we move them across the page, which reveals in any genre, the lone mind of the writer, dimensionless and flashing a rare beam of light.
Why do you write what you do?
“What is the purpose of writing? For me personally, it is really to explain the mystery of life, and the mystery of life includes, of course, the personal, the political, the forces that make us what we are while there's another force from inside battling to make us something else.”
― Nadine Gordimer
Because my love is unsolved.
Because I can’t write anything else, or I’d write something better.
Because straight lines are troublesome.
Because I like translation.
Because I am occasionally afraid, often alone, and always a little hungry.
And because this is the only way I know to reach you.
How does your writing process work?
“The solitude of writing is also quite frightening. It's quite close to madness, one just disappears for a day and loses touch.”
― Nadine Gordimer
I think and think about writing. That is something, I hope. The guilt and shame that I don’t write more, or more beautifully, are hands around my throat. And still, I don’t write as much I should. But eventually I sit down and read something that is so chimeric, so insanely good, and the yearning for it is howling enough I’m driven to hunker down at my desk and put on the right music and paw at the keys and hope that with enough effort and persistence the world will yield a single secret, and the ones I miss will walk beside me again and the whole way home.
And please tune in next Monday, July 21st, to read these four wise, funny, important writers:
- Rochelle Hurt is the author of The Rusted City, a novel in poems published by White Pine Press in the Marie Alexander Series (2014). Her work has been included in Best New Poets 2013, and she has received awards from Crab Orchard Review, Arts & Letters, Hunger Mountain, and Poetry International. She is a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati.
- Beth Staples is the assistant director of the Publishing Laboratory at UNCW faculty. Previously, she has worked with The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University where she managed the literary journal Hayden's Ferry Review and the Center's other publications from 2007 to 2012. Beth also taught in the creative writing department at ASU. Her own work has appeared in Phoebe, the Portland Review, and on 300Reviews.com.
- Erica Sklar is a graduate of the MFA program at UNCW, where she served as the associate editor of Chautauqua. Her work has been published in The Master's Review, Barely South, The Newer York, Blue Earth Review, and the Summerset Review.
- Emma Bolden is the author of Maleficae (GenPop Books) and medi(t)ations (forthcoming from Noctuary Press). Her creative nonfiction/mixed genre chapbook, Geography V, is forthcoming from Winged City Chapbook Press. Bolden's four poetry chapbooks include How to Recognize a Lady (Toadlily Press), The Mariner's Wife (Finishing Line Press), The Sad Epistles (Dancing Girl Press), and This Is Our Hollywood (The Chapbook). Poems and prose have appeared on/in The Rumpus, Guernica, B O D Y, The Adirondack Review, and elsewhere. She is a professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University.