Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Stacie Eirich

Today's interview is with poet Stacie Eirich

1.  When did you first start writing?
I think I first started writing at a very young age, in elementary school – short stories and plays that I would act out with friends at school and in my neighborhood. But it wasn't until I was a young teen, about 14, that I began writing poetry in journals -- as a way to express my feelings and make sense of the world around me. It was then that I began to identify myself as a “writer” and see the possibility of writing in my future. 

2.  What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid?
My two books are collections of poetry: Space to Dream: Poems and Canvas of Imagination: Poems.  I self-published them on Amazon and Smashwords in March and April 2016. Canvas of Imagination is a short collection of 16 poems that I wrote when I was 16 years old, and Space to Dream includes 50 poems written in the last 20 years. All the poems were hand-written in journals I kept through high school, college, graduate school and beyond. Typing, editing and publishing them was a process of hard work and mixed emotions – but it was something I felt I needed to do. 

3.  What led to your love for literature? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?
I am fortunate to have grown up in a community that supported the arts, attending a school that exposed me to stories through literature, art, music and theater from a young age. The first book I can remember being read out loud was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  In 4th grade, my teacher read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and from then on I was hooked to fantasy adventure stories. I also have vivid memories of carrying a copy of The Wrinkle in Time with me. I've had many teachers over the years that have encouraged me in my writing, but if I had to pick one to single out it would be my elementary school theater teacher. She recognized my ability to tell and write stories, and encouraged me to both write and perform when I was very young. I believe that her encouragement, along with that of my parents and other teachers, helped point me towards a life in the arts. 

4.  What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
My writing process is a sensual one. I don't use formal outlines, instead writing down images I see, sounds I hear, sensations and emotions I feel. I'm often outdoors when I begin writing – sometimes surrounded by quiet, sometimes birdsong, other times I'm listening to a classical or orchestral music play-list. I suppose I am old-fashioned in that I would rather start by putting pen to paper than type on a keyboard. My poems always begin as handwritten pieces in lined paper journals, eventually becoming whole images when I put fingers to the keyboard. As a former writing teacher, I'm very process-oriented –  and I do several revisions of each poem before it is finished. 

5.  Who or what inspires you? Where / how do you get your book ideas?
Nature and music inspire me immensely – there is enough inspiration in both to fill books for a whole lifetime. I also write about love and relationships, observations of life and people around me, as well as fantastical dreams. Writers have endless opportunities for material based on their experiences, with the end result always being unique because our experiences will always be different. Almost any thought, feeling or moment could turn into my next book idea – but mostly, my ideas come from my passions. 

6.  When in the day do you usually write? For how long?
I write in the mornings, after I've finished getting my children off to school. I'll start by going to a place that is both quiet and comfortable – like I said, often outside. I'll read a bit, or simply sit with my journal and begin writing a conscious stream of thoughts to get the juices flowing. Usually for an hour, but if the writing flows freely – maybe more. I also write late at night after my children have gone to bed; I find this is often my most productive writing time, something to do with moon I suppose? I know many writers who do their best writing by its light.

 7.  Describe your desk / writing corner / favorite writing spot.
A wooden, swinging bench in my backyard. There is a viny, green arch growing around it, its small white blooms giving off a sweet smell in the spring. It's the perfect space to take my journal to; I've written many poems there. 

8.  Do you listen to music while you write? What kind of music?
Yes, often soft classical or orchestral music. I have many play lists that I like on Spotify. My musical tastes, like my literature tastes – vary widely – but I need music without vocals in order to maintain concentration while I write. So even though I'm a big Broadway and Opera fan, I won't listen to that while writing! 

9.  Do you ever get writers' block? What are some ways you get around it?
I think every writer has had trouble getting words to paper at some point in their lives! I'm not sure I'd always call it a block – sometimes it's just a lack of inspiration, energy – or just that maybe you'd rather be doing something else. I tell myself – that's OK! I allow myself to get up, stretch, take a walk – play with my children – get a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) – go outside. Inevitably one of these works and I find myself returning to my journal, if not later that day, the next day. That's one of the great things about writing – as the sun sets and rises, it will always be available to us. 

10.  Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing? 
Yes, I am the queen of part-time day jobs! Right now, in addition being a mother and writer, I'm also a part-time singer and SAT essay scorer. I am fortunate to be able to pursue my passions in writing and music while also mothering my young children. I actually think it helps my writing to have so many varied experiences, and helps me use the writing time I have effectively. 

11.  What project are you working on now?
One of my dreams is to write for children, and I have a short story that I'm developing into what I hope will be my first children's novel. It's a story based on a real experience my mother had as a child and told me about years ago: a night when animals escaped from a circus. It's working title is Kingdom of the Tigers and it is a mixture of my mother's real memory and a fantasy-adventure I've created.  

12.  What books do you like to read? What are you reading now?

I read widely, but my favorite genres are poetry, literary fiction and historical fiction. I also enjoy books about writers and the writing process – I was just re-reading Joyce Carol Oates's The Faith of a Writer last night. I'm often reading several books at the same time, some by myself and others with my children. Right now, my kids are fans of funny, early chapter reader series like Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson and the Geronimo & Thea Stilton books. I also look for e-books by other indie authors – I've just started reading Star Sand by Roger Pulvers. 

Stacie Eirich is a dreamer who loves literature, music, theater, travel, and her two children. She has self-published two collections of poetry, Space to Dream: Poems and Canvas of Imagination: Poems. Read more of her poems, prose & book reviews at her blog. She lives north of New Orleans, La – mothering, dreaming, and writing. 

Canvas of Imagination

A collection of 16 poems published in April to celebrate National Poetry Month. Chosen for their optimism and heartache, their mixture of childhood fantasy and teenage reality, they show how one writer's experience with poetry began.

Amazon  | Smashwords

Space to Dream

Space to Dream is a collection of free verse and prose poems. The poems are organized into themes including: Natural Wonders, Romance & Journeys, Musical Interludes, Creation & the Arts, Dark Fantasy, and more. Each poem has been crafted with sensual language and colourful imagery in mind, and many poems in the collection are influenced by a love and knowledge of music.


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