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the writing process, ronnie mcgrath, geoffrey landis

London boutique, photo by Lady K

I’m trying, trying trying to commit to one writing project. I jump back and forth in haphazard fashion, trying one thing after another. We have all Smith’s stories written down for his memoir, and that’s going well but now it’s his turn to work on it. (I’m also editing it.)

My various writing projects are my weight loss journey, a memoir about American childhood in the 70s and young adult love-angst. And I’ve tried some future-fi stuff but also can’t commit to anything. Everything’s in pieces and I can’t focus.

I’m in awe of people who write fiction. I think most fiction must come out of peoples’ particular expertise in an area. I just finished “Mars Crossing” by Cleveland sci-fi author Geoffrey Landis. He works for NASA, and his novel is “hard” sci-fi, which I guess means that it is rooted in reality.

I emailed him to try to get some insight on the writing process. In particular, conception versus process. Landis does write with destination in mind.

We just met this awesome poet here, Ronnie McGrath. He’s also written a book — On The Verge Of Losing It — and I’m dying to ask him questions after I read it. McGrath seems to come from the other end of the creative spectrum from Landis. He said that for OTVOLI he invented his characters and let them lead him through the story.

Here is a sample of McGrath’s poetry:

FINE RAIN

We float like atoms
in the selfishness of fine rain
each to their own pair of shoes
jumping in and out of clothes
where the body is more obscene
than the slithering tongues of ice-lolly sticks.

We occupy the shells of all things mainstream
locked into the handcuffs of a virtual reality
where tradition more rigid than
the constructed robes of hymn-sheet books
throws their ancient songs at the contemporary
world of old-folks.

We swim like fish in a culture of space and time
where the surface of things
more threatening than the patient gaze of egg timers
bore holes into the unguarded pens of fiction writers.

But in the portraits of their over-development
Mona Lisa smiles
as the needle-marks derail violently
as teeth are buried
as the black-eyed peas of fisticuffs knock-down houses
as the sugar-cubes of horses kick in doorways
as the record-decks of a bass-generation

hang brothers loosely
strange fruits
hanging
and falling
in the struggle to rise
from the chains of themselves.

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