What type of writing do you do?
Mostly, but also exclusively, poetry. I took a Fiction Workshop with Paul LaFarge, and learned a lot about writing fiction. But when I sit down to write, poetry comes out.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I would love to say something along the lines of, “in a hammock made of hemp, strung between two trees in the rolling hills beneath a French villa,” but I can’t. My favorite place to write is in the crook of my windowsill. It’s quite the contortionist’s feat to get in there, but nothing beats having natural light to write to.
Are you writing a thesis? What is it about?
No, I am not. I completed a senior project – a small collection of poems – in the fall with Elizabeth Willis. I wrote poems about the cyclical nature of Irish emigration and my maternal lineage that connects me to the island.
What’s your favorite thing that you have written?
I wrote a short prose piece – okay, so I write some prose, but very rarely – for a magazine put out by my study abroad program. It was a non-fiction short of walking through the town of Galway, Ireland, set off by the beat of counting the mallards that populate – and overpopulate – the city’s river walk. I think it is my favorite thing that I have written because it won me “Best Entry” which came with a 50-euro gift card, with which I purchased goat cheese and gin.
What’s the first thing you wrote that you can remember?
When I was in 3rd grade I wrote a short story entitled, “My Life As a Raindrop.” It was published in my elementary school’s literary magazine, if you can call a magazine of elementary scrawl literary, which I think you can. We were learning about the water cycle – evaporation, precipitation, etc. – and had to do a creative piece. The story is now framed, and hangs in my bedroom at home. Thanks mom.
How early did you begin writing?
I would love to be dramatic and hyperbolic, and say “I was born writing,” but I don’t remember being born, so I can’t say that with certainty. I can only say for certain that I began writing in my early elementary years.Where did you find your subjects?
From around me. In the above instance I was living in Galway, and walked everywhere, as many Irish do. Sometimes I would get very bored, and would write things in my head.
But also, and more often, I look up the definitions of words. I suppose that sounds really simple, but as one who practices poetry I don’t often think of character or plot, I think of words: how do they sound, what do they look like, and what do they mean? One of my favorite hobbies is to look words up on the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The archaic meanings and spellings are fascinating and highly entertaining. Who knew that “strawberry” was at one time spelled “strebere”?
What’s the best thing you’ve read recently?
I recently rediscovered Sylvia Plath’s Colossus and Other Poems. I still haven’t figured out how she writes such perfectly paced and sonically pleasing poems.
What writers have influenced you?
Definitely Sylvia Plath. Also, Jane Kenyon; the way in which she says so much with so little still astounds me. Donald Hall, the late Kenyon’s husband. The poems he wrote following Kenyon’s death are the saddest things you will ever read. When I’m feeling especially melancholic I read those. They don’t make me feel happier, but they allow for some serious wallow time.
When you start writing, do you start with a complete story in mind or do you pursue an idea and see where it takes you?
I generally try things out in my head before sitting down with pen (pencil shows a lack of commitment) and paper. I’m not a big free writer. I like neatness. My head is where all the crazy free associations occur. Also, I plot poems out by free hand, but sit down to put them into poem form always on the computer. I often imagine myself as anti-technology, but continually prove this to be a farce when I go to write poems. Alas!
How do you know when you’ve reached the end of a piece?
When I read it aloud and don’t wince. One wince, and I know that it needs to be reworked in some way.
How much do you consider the reader when you write?
Not very often. This question makes me think that I should consider hir more.
Is there a particular person who you share your early drafts with?
Well, if I’m writing for a course then often the professor or my classmates. But other than that, I’m not big on sharing my writing. So, I share it with myself. I suppose then that I’m my biggest critic, simply because I’m my only critic.
What has your favorite writing class at Wes been?
Poetry Workshop with Elizabeth Willis.
Are you involved in any writing groups or events?
Yes, I am Co-Editor of The Hangman’s Lime.
Do you hope to pursue writing in the future? How?
I am certainly going to pursue writing in the future, but I can’t say how thick my skin is when it comes to rejection, and therefore how long I will last at writing in the real world. I wrote for an online music magazine last summer, and really enjoyed the work. I would certainly be interested in trying out music journalism again. But really, I can’t say. I suppose if someone wanted me to write something, I would write it. Payment is a whole ‘nother animal.
Audrey McGlinchy is a senior English major. A Writer’s Habits is a series of interviews with student writers on campus.