Why do you write?
I write because I have to. It sounds cliche and I know it is the “in” thing to say, that writing is a necessary compulsion but it truly is and has always been that in my life. I have been long trying to employ a daily writing habit but usually what happens is I tend to not write and when that happens my life goes to shit. The second my fingers hit the keyboard I’m back at it and life becomes golden again.
What books do you read?
I like to read all sorts of things. Fiction, non fiction, and poetry. I recently just finished reading Into the Undertow by Kendall A. Bell and Alchemy by John Yamrus. Now I’m plowing through the War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
What inspires you?
Life is the short answer. In another life, I used to write angsty heart-break-I’m-mad-at-my-parents-basic-shit but as I grew older I became infatuated with character. Throughout our lives we are surrounded by characters that never hit the public-eye. They live their lives and die in obscurity and their memory sticks with friends and families and fades. I like to capture these characters and immortalize them with words.
In the collection I’m working on with artist Matt Gullstrand The Degenerates Anthem, I am trying to capture the interesting people who I met in the drug scene of my home town— the folks from the other side of the tracks if you will. People inspire me.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?
When I was younger there were two things I always wanted to be: A New York Yankee and a writer, when I found out I was too fat to be a good baseball player I realized I was meant to be a writer. I have bins of old notebooks filled with fantasy and horror short stories. I didn’t start writing poetry until I was in my teenage years however.
How do you deal with rejection?
Growing up as a fat kid in school I learned rejection at a young age. When I started submitting fiction to magazines at seventeen I was immediately introduced with the rejection letter. I didn’t receive an acceptance for two years. I learned humility through those years. I’m happy for a rejection letter. The more I submit, the more personal rejections I’ve been getting which I’m taking as either I’m getting better or they’re just really tired of hearing from me!
Who are some writers you admire?
Some writers I admire are some of the poets in the NJ Poetry Scene we have orchestrated over the last six months, like Charles Joseph, the author of Fireball, B. Diehl the author of Temporary Obscurity (w/ Charles Joseph), John Dorsey, Wolfgang Carstens, Lynn Alexander, and Rebecca Weber. Those are some of the poets right now that are blowing me away on a regular basis.
Is writing the only artistic medium you do?
I used to be big into playing music. I can sing, play guitar (kind-of) and can play along with a bass. From the time I was fourteen until I was nineteen I was in half a dozen bands and played all over the Jersey Shore. I quit the band scene but kept playing guitar solo until one day I thought it was cool to smash my guitar. It wasn’t and I haven’t played music since.
What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?
Keep writing. Don’t apologize. Don’t compromise. Only take madness in doses.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
The main thing at the end of the day is to keep writing. As much as possible. Once you stop writing is when everything gets all muddied. If you’re writing good shit and you’re honest and true to yourself, everything else will come together.
What is your writing process?
I wish I could say that every morning I make a pot of joe, set up the laptop, and write for hours BUT I haven’t tamed that beast yet. Sometimes I write in bursts and sometimes I only write a little bit. I’m trying to get my shit together and be more structured because I don’t think it is romantic to be a binge writer like Hunter S. Thompson, I’d rather be like Hemingway. Except without the shotgun.
Damian Rucci is a writer and poet from New Jersey whose work has appeared in the Yellow Chair Review, Literary Hatchet, GFT Press, and Lehigh Valley Vanguard and is forthcoming in Beatdom and Five 2 One Magazine. He is the author of the chapbook A Symphony of Crows and writes the column Musings of a Derelict Poet. HIs debut collection The Degenerates Anthem is being released early Summer 2016