At her blog The Palace at 2:00 a.m., Marly Youmans has an on-going series of interviews with writers and publishers called The House of Words. One afternoon last February, I sat down and wrote a few thousand words in response to a series of questions she sent me, and promptly forgot about it until a couple months later when the first installment appeared (#20 in the series). Marly posted a few installments, illustrated with photos she found at Via Negativa, then went on vacation for a month… in the midst of which, somewhat surreally, she and I actually met up in Wales. This was the very first time we met, despite the fact that we’ve known each other for several years and are only about a five-hour drive apart over some of the most lovingly maintained highways in the world. Anyway, the interview finally resumed in the third week of May, and just concluded a few days ago. Here are the links to the pieces in order, with a brief quote from each to give you a flavor. If you have comments on specific points I raise in the series, please leave them at Marly’s blog rather than here so as to keep the discussion in one place.
Friends started telling me about Blogger that summer, but like most literary snobs I turned my nose up at it, both because of the absurd and ugly word, “blog,” and also because of what I was hearing about blogs in the mainstream media: that they were filled with worthless minutiae of people’s daily lives and/or links accompanied by minimal, uninformed comments. It didn’t seem at all attractive.
I’ve come to feel that blogging and poetry writing are an ideal match, at least for those of us who are shameless enough to share imperfect drafts with the world.
The push to come up with new content every day was transformative.
I feel like a bit of a hypocrite: I run an online journal, but almost never submit my own work to journals unless invited. But mostly that’s because very few journals consider previously blogged material, and I write first and foremost to feed the blog.
In general, I think the best medicine for discouragement [at not getting published] is to join a community of writers, online or in real life, and focus on the writing rather than the writer.
There are just so many opportunities for collaboration now — I don’t see how any serious writer can fail to be excited by that.
Generations of poets have been taught to be absolute perfectionists and struggle against every word, because we all know how mortifying it is to have to look at a poem in print that we’ve long since revised. Being mainly self-published and mainly online does allow for a more fluid conception of one’s work.
It gradually turned into a regular magazine, though we’ve never gone so far as to issue periodic issue-dumps, as other online magazines do, preferring instead to remain bloggish, with new material at least five times a week, and comments activated for every post.
I fear a lot of people start blogs these days on the advice of editors or agents who neglect to tell them that the most important trait of a good blogger is generosity.