Elaine Ewart is an excellent poet, a fellow former Fenland Poet Laureate, and a good friend. So when she asked me to take part in the Writers' Blog Tour, I really couldn't say no!
The aim of the tour is for each nominated writer to answer a few questions about their current projects and creative processes, so that we can all get to know them a little bit better. After each writer has completed their part, they can then nominate more writers to join the tour.
It's a lot like those questionnaires that you used to get on MySpace back in the early naughties. (Tell me that other people remember those too, right?)
Anyway, the blog tour is a great way to find out how other writers work, so here are my answers:
What am I working on?
At the moment, I'm working on some content for some creative writing workshops that I'll be delivering to schools next month. I recently found some amazing photographs from the 1930s and 1940s in a local junk shop, and I'm currently looking for a way to incorporate them into some creative writing exercises.
I'm also getting ready for my first ever Napowrimo (National Poetry Writing Month), which starts on 1st April. The challenge is to write thirty poems in thirty days, and I'm going to be working alongside a gaggle of fantastic poets from Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. You can follow our progress on the blog, or check out more information about Napowrimo here.
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I tend not to write directly about myself, which is quite unusual on the performance poetry scene. Instead, I focus on surreal situations and bizarre encounters fuel my poetry. I try to use humour and rhyme to slip my point of view across in a stealthy kind of way. This was never a conscious choice for me; I think I'm just much more interested in fantasy than reality - because who wouldn't prefer a unicorn ride over a visit to the bank manager?
Why do I write?
I've always really enjoyed writing. Getting your ideas down on paper and shaping them into something coherent is sometimes pretty challenging - especially if you're working to a specific rhyme or form - but it's really satisfying to finally finish that poem you've been working on for weeks. From a performance point of view, it's great to write something that's well received by audiences. Watching other poets perform often spurs me on to be more creative, and reading the work of other poets inspires me to try new things, so that I always feel like there's more to learn and new ways to write.
How does my writing process work?
Lines of poetry usually develop out of conversations (I do a lot of eavesdropping!) and I often find that titles or themes come to me first, to be fleshed out later on. I like to write quickly and I find it fairly easy to slip into rhyme - I've even been known to dream in verse - but I'm absolutely terrible at editing my own work. I like the immediacy of writing something in one sitting and then never touching it again - but I'm getting better at going back and reworking pieces that aren't quite right. There's always room for improvement!
I take my notebook everywhere, and jot down ideas as they come to me, but I do most of my writing in my living room with the cat on my lap and a cup of peppermint tea. It's a very Rock & Roll lifestyle!