Why do you write?
To document my life. To let off steam. To occupy and consume myself. Coz I want books with my name down the spine. Vanity. To communicate what I can’t express in conversation. Catharsis.
What books do you read?
Mainly poetry and autobiography, sometimes music biography and flash fiction.
What inspires you?
Dissatisfaction with life. I’m not entirely miserable, but I only have to step out the front door and I can find something to annoy me. Sounds clichéd, but mainly the personal human condition. But I also am very inspired by performance poets, rock lyricists. Things I see, hear out of the ordinary. And recently I’m inspired by perzines, a renewed interest in the whole DIY ethic.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?
When I read ‘Henry Rollins Talks’ in January 1989 I saw writing as a vehicle for making a new life for myself.
How do you deal with rejection?
When I was younger and sending work out to magazines I got about 90 percent of my submissions rejected. I’d just send out more work. If there wasn’t an A5 envelope on the mat every night when I got back from my warehouse job. I just assumed I wasn’t doing enough. Some editors gave good advice. I was pretty sheer bloody minded. I had one poem rejected a dozen times. It got accepted on the thirteenth. Now I don’t send out much. I road-test at open mic and on Facebook notes. I’m more realistic in my expectations these days and usually know myself when I’m full of shit.
Who are some writers you admire?
Julia Eff, Geoff Hattersley, Jenni Pascoe, Michael Gira, Simon Armitage, Ann Porro, Buddy Wakefield, Kirsten Luckins, Albert Huffstickler, Scott Tyrrell, Sharon Olds, Kevin Cadwallender, Samuel Beckett, Lydia Lunch, Adrian Mitchell, Jane Burn, Henry Rollins, loads of performance poets… I could go on all day.
Is writing the only artistic medium you do?
I ‘perform’ to a certain extent – when my poor short term memory allows me to retain my words, and I like to physically make books.
What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?
Be honest, keep writing, read widely and don’t give up. Don’t expect easy success.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write for inspiration, don’t wait for inspiration to write. Keep a journal, write even when you feel you have nothing to say. Read books you wish you’d written. Do morning pages. Meet other writers. Write what you want, not what you think people want you to write.
What is your writing process?
I don’t like poetry by numbers – I’m not very fond of using traditional form. And I don’t write conventional short stories either. Fluky flash fiction at best. I’m interested in honesty and making use of the occasional gift from the subconscious. I use morning pages, daily journal, writing marathons, some exercises that I give to workshop participants, writing on the move – key it in, pick out the bits that have potential, shape them into poems, essays and slice of life vignettes.