Ophelias_Overdose at Deviantart
I have been asked on several occasions to do interviews and each time I conjure up the horrific images of all my botched job interviews so I composed my own.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I write some of my best work when I have writer’s block. Not always of course but it forces me out of my comfort zone. Writer’s block is part of the process. I used to be afraid that a day might come where I wouldn’t be able to write anymore but I realize now that those so-called blocks are just growing pains. When I look at writer’s block from that perspective I realize that I am actually progressing not regressing.
Some of my methods for coping with writer’s block
- Listen to music
- Change of scenery (I find I produce some my better poems while taking a bath)
- If I am just too exhausted to form coherent thoughts I’ll take a nap or meditate
- Visit my favorite prompt sites
- Do something out of the ordinary (visit a museum, go fishing whatever)
Your writing deals a lot with philosophy. What philosophical schools do you subscribe to?
I started doing yoga when I was 12. I went full in the exercise, the diet, the philosophy. I no longer maintain such a strict diet because I was unable to maintain a healthy weight but it remains a way of life for me.
When I was 15 I started studying Buddhism. I believe that is the most recognizable influence as a lot of people address me as Buddhist. Complete strangers even and trust me I don’t go around in bright orange robes and mandalas.
When I was around 19 I started studying Taoism. Sam owned The Tao of Pooh and after reading it I was hooked!
I started studying Shintoism in college and it has had a profound impact on my life. Shintoism has taught me what it truly means to be human. It has taught me how to forgive myself and there is really no greater gift than that.
Through the PC game Planescape Torment I came in contact with a number of fictional philosophical schools, the one that stood out to me the most is The Transcendent Order which is based largely on Taoism.
I think some people would consider me a Nihilist. I have actually never read Nietzsche it has always been on my to do list lol From what I have studied on Nihilism I can see why people might get that impression.
So I guess I would have say my philosophical beliefs are derived from a multitude of sources far more than I could ever hope to name
Are you an anarchist?
Yes and no I hate labels haha. I do have issues with authority issues so deep and intrinsic that I have been living partially outside of society my entire life. At University I started something of a rebellion in one of my classes but that is another story for another time.
People sometimes find your poetry confusing what do you say to that?
My poetry is very intimate, it comes from deep within me and lets face it I am rather eccentric. I would be surprised and even worried if every person who read my work walked away with the exact message I intended. We all have different backgrounds, different vocabularies, different philosophies. People who come from stable and nurturing homes don’t always understand why I have ended relations with my father. They aren’t really able to put themselves in my shoes and frankly I am happy that their own experiences of childhood were more pleasant. While I do strive for clarity, I am not writing generic Hallmark greetings. I am writing about life as I have experienced/perceived it there is always going to be an element of interpretation involved.
Why don’t you just explain everything you write?
I do explain certain poems when I feel the history might serve to elevate the piece. I also share the experience when I feel my expression is inadequate. For me the ultimate goal of poetry is to stir the spirit. Relating my own opinions is far less important to me than getting people to think for themselves. Poetry should reveal more about the reader than the author. I know a lot of people who would disagree with me on this point but think about the poems you enjoy the most as a reader. As a reader you want a poem that stirs your emotions, that makes you shout aha, a poem that voices that which you cannot express.
Why do you write?
To me this is akin to asking why fish swim. I write because it is who I am in the most fundamental sense. There are times when my confidence is such that I am not able justify my perceived lack of talent. There are even times when I let other people’s opinions define/deflate me. People often think that in writing dark poetry I am making myself Depressed. I am the most Depressed when I am not writing. Ironically I have never been good at expressing my emotions. I am not exactly what you would call an adept conversationalist writing is the way I express myself. My ego would continue to exist without writing but my spirit I assure you would die.
Do you erase/delete poems?
No. I used to delete 90% of what I wrote but I realized that I was inhibiting my growth. The poems I dislike often represent parts of myself I haven’t fully accepted. In other words those so-called unsaleable poems have more to do with fear than they have to do with ability. Working with these wounded pieces is essential to the healing process. They are also essential to genius. While I don’t consider myself a genius I know that in order to progress I have to be willing to face my perceived deficiencies head on. The hardest thing for me to face personally is superficiality. As a writer I want to be unique. As a writer I am expected to be soulful but as a human being I am at times shallow. Sometimes I want nothing more than to eat junk food and watch bad television. Sometimes I say I am fine even when I am not because I just don’t feel like starting a conversation. Sad but true.
How do you deal with criticism?
I am not popular enough to have proper hecklers yet haha. At WordPress I have received a lot of encouragement/heartfelt praise. Neutral comments are the worst because it means my poem has had no effect on the reader. I never feel so much like a failure as when I receive ubiquitous comments like “fine” or “okay”. As far criticism it used to devastate me at least if the opinion of the person involved was one I held in esteem. I think it is a little easier to brush off comments when you know nothing whatsoever about the person making the remark. Nowadays I cope a lot better because I know what it is that I want. I have goals. I have a sense of who I am as a writer and I know that no matter how I feel on any given day I am going to keep working toward that dream. I make it a point to let my poems rest. When I write something now I no longer post it immediately I wait until I have had a full night of reflection. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s not about attention and the moment it becomes that I’ll take a hiatus and clear my head. I will still write of course but I’d stop sharing until I got my priorities strait. Coincidentally I did take a hiatus at one point because I felt I was getting to caught up in the numbers game.
You’ve published a book recently “An Alterable Void” how is it doing? What are your projections?
This is an important question because I feel a lot of poets are interested in self-publishing unfortunately I am not sure that my stats will prove all that relevant. Still I think it is important to be honest.
I have 914 followers at WordPress all of which began as strangers. Not all of these followers actively participate at my blog. I have never received close to the feedback such a crowd would generate if everyone were active. Of those I have made some very good friends who do provide regular feedback but that number is very low in comparison. I am sure many of you have noticed that you can have a lot of followers and receive a lot of likes and still not be technically popular. I am not popular when you look at the situation realistically. I realize I have readers who don’t comment but do read/enjoy but there is no accurate way to measure them. All the people who have purchased my book so far belong to those who regularly comment, my WordPress friend group. I have sold 5 paperback copies of my book. I haven’t sold a single e-Book version which as I understand it is rather unusual. Especially unusual when you consider that Lulu has a very high set price for books. I have perhaps 7 more people that are interested in making a purchase. I believe that most of them intend to buy paperback. If everyone who has expressed interest does buy I will have sold 12 books total. Of those 12 books maybe 1 or 2 will be e-Books. Not everyone I consider a friend will buy one of my books (which doesn’t make them any less awesome btw) but if you have 50 good friends that doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to sell 50 books. Some of you will sell to family and real life friends and you may be able to guarantee those sales. My family will not be making any purchases. I have 2 online friends who are not WordPress members interested in purchasing my book and 1 high school acquaintance that I socialize with on facebook. I am a very withdrawn person with no marketing skills. I have almost no social life outside of WordPress save for those 3 people. I am not that likely to attract a large audience. If you are outgoing you will likely have an easier time locating your target group. I don’t suspect I will sell much more than 12 total books until which time I meet and connect with more people. Novelists may have an easier time considering that poetry is considered out of fashion.
Anything you want to tell who are considering self-publishing?
Don’t do it for the money no but seriously self-publishing has a tremendous amount of stigma attached to it, make your book an exception. Take the time and do it right. Secondly, don’t let the numbers define you. Maybe your book doesn’t sell but that isn’t reflection of your worth. As history has taught us there are lots of withdrawn eccentric artists and poets who in their lifetime never tasted success or fame by societal standards but who are now highly regarded. As an outcast I can say that I haven’t reached out as I ought and if you aren’t reaching out well it makes you that much harder to find.
What is your book about?
“An Alterable Void” is a collection of 100 poems most of which I have written in the last few years. The books is divided up in 3 sections mind/love/misery which is reflection of subject matter contained within. The mind section deals mostly with philosophy and psychology. The love section, you might pleased to know, contains some of my softer more romantic pieces. The misery section deals with human suffering.
Is your book autobiographical?
No and yes most of my poems contain both elements of fiction and nonfiction. There are poems in the book that are autobiographical in nature, poems that are strait up nonfiction but in my effort to understand human nature I sometimes try on other personas.
What does the title of your book mean?
A lot of us feel that we have a space inside of us which cannot be filled. We try to fill it with sex, food, drugs, money, booze, people etc. but in the process we become even more vacuous. I believe that that space can be filled with acceptance. My book is about self-acceptance. What does it mean to be human? Why do we suffer? It is about facing ones’ demons in order to achieve a vision.
Where can I purchase your book?
Right now it is available exclusively at Lulu but I intend to make it available on Amazon in the very near future