5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH JENNIFER LEE

  1. What is your first memory of writing for fun?

It was fun in 7th grade social studies, when I had the amazing Kenneth Link as a teacher. My handwritten paragraphs covered half a page, I wrote from the heart, from the mind, and I loved it. Later came a lot of bad poetry. Much later came fiction.

  1. How many drafts = done?

Whatever it takes. At least three.

  1. What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?

Murakami’s 1Q84 stands out. Also 10:04 by Ben Lerner. Maybe I like any book with numbers in the title.

  1. What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?

When I first read this question, I interpreted it to me the discipline that keeps me writing, and what is exciting about that is simply the fact that I have it. Discipline is hard. Then I realized the question was probably asking me what excites me about fiction. I love it when I sit down to write a specific scene or chapter, a section where I pretty much know what is going to happen, and watching all the strange new things I invent in the moment of writing appear on the page as well. It still seems kind of magical to me.

  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

I don’t know. I like the words everyone else hates, just to be obnoxious. Give me moist, give me fickle, give me groovy. Words should never be hated, that is like hating a color. Who hates a color? You just haven’t seen it in its best context yet. Speaking of which, color words are some of the best: vermillion, indigo, magenta. Wow.

Bonus question: The apocalypse starts tomorrow – what are the first three steps to ensure your survival?

I think I would have had fun with this question sometime in the safe and distant past. Now it just makes me sigh.

First, load the car. I won’t list all the stuff I’d take, because that would be cheating on the three steps rule. It will be too late for me to buy a gun, there won’t be any left in the stores, so I will have to do with out. Second, get my kids. They are all I would care about when the apocalypse happens, and the only reason for doing this dumb survival thing anyway. Last, head for Canada, by whatever means possible.

See, it isn’t as much fun to think about anymore, is it? Thanks, Cormac McCarthy.

~

Your inclusive position on words (should never be hated) could also easily be applied to people. Thanks, Jennifer! We’re so excited to feature Jennifer Lee and our other great readers at our March 14th Writers & Words at Charmingtons, 7pm.  February was not the same without you: bring on March.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS ABOUT WRITERS & WOODS WRITING RETREAT

  1. So, planning a writing retreat you say? What’s the deal?

Yes we are! March 16th – 19th we’ll be spending a long weekend in some cabins in the woods for some productive, relaxing writing time.

  1. Ok that sounds cool, but does it cost an arm and a leg?

We don’t want your arms or your legs, don’t worry. The cost is $175 which includes a private room in a shared cabin, one optional activity a day (hiking, hot springs, etc), three meals a day (BYOM – M is for meat), limited booze, heat & electricity (no wifi), and the company of other rad writers.

  1. Where are these magical cabins?

Wild and wonderful West Virginia, in Cacapon Resort State Park. The cabins self-identify as tiny houses. Who doesn’t love a tiny house? Literally no one.

  1. This sounds great! But I thought Writers & Words was a reading series; why are you doing a writing retreat?

That is correct, we are a monthly reading series. We’ve been doing readings for two years now, and by far the best thing about it are the cool people we meet each month. We thought a retreat would be a new and different way to support and grow our community of writers. Also, we like doing fun things, and this will be fun, so we’re doing it.

  1. I’m sold. How do I apply?

First go here to our website, fill out the quick questions at the bottom of the page, and wait to hear form us. Space is limited; we’ll let you know mid February if you nabbed a spot. We’ll be taking applications till February 17th, but get in there quick so you don’t miss out.

Bonus question: is West Virginia the Best Virginia?

You’ll have to come to our retreat and decide for yourself!

~

Reminder- we will we taking a short winter break in February, however, we’ll be back on the second Tuesday of the month on March 14th featuring Wallace Lane (poetry), Terri Steel (non-fiction), Alex Hacker (Wildcard), & Jennifer Lee (fiction).

Questions about the retreat? Email us at writersandwords[at]gmail[dot]com

See you in March!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH TERI ELLEN CROSS DAVIS

  1. What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

I like having an outlet for the excessive emotions I tend to feel.

  1. What is your least favorite question in regards to your writing? (ex. How’s it going? When are you going to write the next Harry Potter?) ?

When people ask if I am going to write a poem about them or give me suggestions on poems.

  1. What is, for you, the best time of day, day of the week, and location in which to write? 

Morning can be quite productive before the world begins to intrude too much.

  1. Pens or pencils?

Whatever is closest to me at the time inspiration strikes.

  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

Almost any word can be my favorite, although I do love words that deal with the senses: taste, sight, sound, etc.

Bonus question: Batman vs Spiderman – who wins?

Tough one. Spiderman has actual super abilities whereas Batman has great detective skills and is incredibly smart. I might have to go with The Dark Knight who might outfox the Amazing Spider-man.

~

We promise not to ask you to write a poem about us, Teri. Learn more about Teri on January 10th at 7pm at Charmingtons for our first Writers and Words of 2017!

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH KAREN STROTHER

  1. What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

This is a tough one. I don’t think of myself as a capital-w Writer most of the time. I have not been published much and don’t really put myself out there – this neurosis should probably get its own book. There are some freedoms of personality that come with being a writer, especially a woman past 35. I can dress a little more colorfully because I’m “artsy” but still seem professional. There are societal assumptions ascribed to writers that are not the same as those hung on accountants or doctors, and I like to take full advantage of these assumptions.

  1. What is your least favorite question in regards to your writing? (ex. How’s it going? When are you going to write the next Harry Potter?) ?

Why don’t you publish more? See above mentioned neurosis.

  1. What is, for you, the best time of day, day of the week, and location in which to write? 

Whatever time or place is closest to the deadline. Or furthest from my bed.

  1. Pens or pencils?

Purple Bic Crystal pens, Palomino Blackwing pencils cause I’m fancy.

  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

Kerfuffle is my current favorite – the meaning resonates with my personal narrative and it feels and sounds like something from Dr. Seuss. Viceroy is another long-time favorite, as is plummet and vestibule. All three because they are fun to say and rather old-fashioned.

Bonus question: Batman vs Spiderman – who wins?

Batman, duh. Parents dying verses an uncle? And have you even seen the bat cave? There is no spider cave.

~

There is, indeed, no spider cave. Come out and hear Karen read on January 10th at 7pm at Charmingtons for our first Writers and Words of 2017.  Be gone, 2016 – we could not be more done with you.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH ANDRIA COLE

  1. What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

When, finally, I get into flow. It’s always painful to begin. For the first hour I’m thinking, F&*% it! I’m just going to strip. But by the second I think I’m Zora Neale Hurston.

  1. What is your least favorite question in regards to your writing? (ex. How’s it going? When are you going to write the next Harry Potter?) ?

I don’t think I have one. I used to avoid talking about my work with folks I assumed wouldn’t read or like it, but I got off my high horse and decided to be a bit more vulnerable. You don’t know who the hell might dig you.

  1. What is, for you, the best time of day, day of the week, and location in which to write? 

Any time, any day, but atmosphere is king. I don’t like to write with people around me…like not even in the next room. This is between me and God, until it ain’t.

  1. Pens or pencils?

Both, depending. Right now I’m on a pencil kick. I have 1,784 pencils in my purse. Don’t stick your hand in that joint, because the tips must be killer sharp.

  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

It’s easier for me to identify words I don’t like. Is that okay? I mean I’m in love with language…choosing a few would be painful. I hate words that drain humanity. Fuckboy is one. The young and not so young use it to describe a boy or man who harms (emotionally or otherwise) his lovers. Female is another. Hate, hate, hate. It’s so biological. Strips women of everything but their vaginas.

Bonus question: Batman vs Spiderman – who wins?

Foxy Brown.

~

We hope that everyone is having a happy holiday season in this last week of 2016. The image of Foxy Brown taking down Batman and Spiderman is the best winter holiday gift, thanks, Andria! Come out and hear Andria read at Writers and Words on January 10th at 7 pm at Charmingtons.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH SAIDA AGOSTINI

  1. What’s the best thing about writing?

I come from a family of storytellers. I claim kin to uncles named dainty, cook up and a distant cousin who carries a machete in the back of his van. I get to carry on the tradition of my family, and uphold a history that is wild, fantastical and so important. I think as queer black folks, we have been nursed on erasure – this idea that only we have exist, that we have no roots to celebrate or ground us. As a poet, I am part of a massive resistance to claim our birthright.

  1. Do you find inspiration in other disciplines?

All the time. I work with FORCE, an artist collaborative dedicated to upsetting rape culture. Visual art and music inspire me to push how I use language to evoke emotion and imagery. Oh, and did I mention reality television?

  1. Can you describe your writing aspirations with minimal punctuation (you may use question marks, parentheses and semi-colons)?

Just to document history, lift up the stories of queer black folks and women, celebrate joy and build a language that is all my own.

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poetry/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?

Poetry has made me weep, laugh, dance, get the nerve to approach a hot woman, and pushed me to fight. Also, Jodeci’s epic ode to romance and the stank body roll, Diary of a Mad Band was a significant draw. The sheer lyricism of the opening lines from Feenin, “take my money/my house and my car/for one hit of you/you can take it all” is genius.

  1. Do you remember the first time you self-identified as a writer without feeling like a poseur? If so, can you tell us?

Probably when I was 7 years old and wrote a poem about friendship. My granny took one look at it, and told me I was a poet. From that moment, I knew I had a fierce ass granny, and I was an artist.

Bonus question: You’re stuck in an awkward conversation with someone who’s, like, fine, but you also aren’t thrilled being in this person’s company. You don’t really want to continue, but you don’t want to obviously not continue, cause this person doesn’t deserve meanness; you just kind of want it to be over. What do you do? How do you extricate yourself? Do you not and just patiently wait for it to be over? Tell us strategies.

I just start quoting Drake lyrics at inappropriate intervals. Even if they don’t leave, at least I’m entertained.

~

To hear Saida’s poetry, come to Charmington’s on Tuesday, December 13th at 7 PM.  Fingers crossed for a poem about reality TV.

ONE BURNING BONUS QUESTION WITH JAIME FOUNTAINE

  1. Bonus question: You’re stuck in an awkward conversation with someone who’s, like, fine, but you also aren’t thrilled being in this person’s company. You don’t really want to continue, but you don’t want to obviously not continue, cause this person doesn’t deserve meanness; you just kind of want it to be over. What do you do? How do you extricate yourself? Do you not and just patiently wait for it to be over? Tell us strategies.

I don’t have particularly insightful or interesting answers to your serious questions*, but alienating people is a specialty of mine. What you want to do here is turn the conversation toward either Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or the films of Werner Herzog. I find that (with the exception of one ex-boyfriend) describing a scene of scalping, or the violent futility of Woyczek will cause that person to suddenly remember that they have to do anything else. Nothing makes someone get a pretend phone call faster than saying, “and then the streets are running with blood…” Or, you know, you date that guy for six months and he steals your copy of Blood Meridian.

On this Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful for Jaime’s sound advice which may very well come in handy this holiday season. See what else Jaime has in store for us in a few weeks as we count down the final days of 2016. December 13th, 7pm at Charmingtons – be there.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

*Serious questions omitted. Who needs em’?

 

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH NATE BROWN

  1. What’s the worst thing about writing?

The worst thing about writing is probably feeling like you’re neglecting the work when you shouldn’t be. Could be your job that’s getting in the way, or it could be Netflix. Could be your commute or your freelance work, your teaching or your need for sleep, but the feeling of not getting to it when you’re itching to is really awful.

  1. What do you do when people ask “How’s your writing goin?

I say “Neither the book nor I are dead yet.”

  1. Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using as many nouns as possible.

There are too many to list! Reading is an immense pleasure, and while I don’t find sitting down to write pleasurable exactly, the thought that you might be creating something that’s thoughtful, interesting, or intelligent and that it might get read by someone at some point and that it might bring that person some pleasure is a nice thought. Here are some nouns: car, cart, hand cart, hand truck, tanker truck, tank, fish tank, fish stick, stick of gum, gum arabic.

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poverty/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?

Like a lot of people, I began reading fiction (early chapter books for kids and then comic books and, later, short stories and novels for school) as a form of escapism. I appreciate that fiction can be a big tent (and I think it’s getting bigger). Genre snobbery and hand-wringing about the state of literature aside, there’s still so much more great writing in the world than any one of us could every possibly hope to read. I’ll die having missed some great fiction and while I find that regrettable, it’s also a little bit of a comfort, you know? There’s plenty of great work out there to be found and read—and plenty still to be written, too.

  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

Oh, that’s a tough one. I don’t know if I have a favorite word, exactly, but here and there, a really nice phrase or two will kick around in my head for long periods of time. Recently, the notion of the “great filter” has been on my mind. A kind of adjunct notion of the Fermi Paradox, the great filter is the theory that as intelligent life evolves, it comes up against a massive, limiting factor or force that prevents further evolution. So, instead of evolving, that life slams directly into the cliff face, so to speak. I like the sound of the great filter, and I find the notion pretty interesting (and terrifying).

Bonus question: Macgyver has been rebooted and stars the actor who played “Havok” in the XMen reboots. Like, what’s going on with that? How do you feel? Does it comfort you to know that while the new Macgyver doesn’t have a mullet, his hair is quite voluminous?

For as much as I love an original show, I’m all for reboots, and it only makes sense that if somebody’s going to pick up where Richard Dean Anderson left off that he should have a thick mane. Will Millennial MacGyver be as sly or a wry as Original MacGyver? Will he be as fundamentally good? Probably not. Our television characters have gotten pretty damned dark (looking at you, Jessica Jones, President and Mrs. Underwood, Omar Little, Walter White, etc. etc.), but even if this upstart MacGyver has a drug problem or some serious daddy issues, he’s bound to be good at kludging things together to improvise weapons. And he’ll always know precisely which wire to pull out of the block of C-4 in order to disarm the suitcase bomb. And, if there’s any justice in the universe, he’ll always have hair so thick that no person can easily run their fingers through it.

To learn more about Nate, come to Charmington’s on Tuesday, November 15th at 7 PM. We are glad that neither you nor your book are dead yet, Nate. Come out on Tuesday and celebrate life, writing, and wonderful words.

5 BURNING QUESTIONS WITH ERIN DREW

  1. What’s the worst thing about writing?
Being habitual about it and trying not to beat myself up for not being habitual about it.
  1. What do you do when people ask “How’s your writing goin?

I run away. No, just kidding. I walk away because I have IT-band problems.

  1. Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using as many nouns as possible.

Writing, you say? I would, I could, with a goat. I could, I would, on a boat. I’d write in the rain, in the dark and in a tree. I’d write in a car, if you’d just let me be. I could write about a box harboring a fox. I could write about a house that ate a mouse. I like writing here and there. I like writing everywhere.

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poverty/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?
I’ve always felt the need to record the goings-on in my world. I’ve kept a diary since I was six. I am infinitely fascinated by why human beings are the way we are. I love hearing people tell true, funny, sad, entertaining stories about their lives. When people are vulnerable about their past, it makes me feel like maybe I’m not so crazy after all. And, hopefully, vice versa. Reading and writing nonfiction makes me feel more connected… more human.
  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

Dur. (pronounced Der) Whenever my old roommate, and dear friend, Leah would drop something she’d say, “Dur,” quietly. I laughed the first time I heard it because she sounded absurd. It became our frustration word. Like when our computers were taking too long to load or when the cat peed on something or when my bank account had no money in it. It became our own. We knew the difference between “DUR!” and “Double Dur” and “Durrrrrrr.” It was pretty magical.

Bonus question: Macgyver has been rebooted and stars the actor who played “Havok” in the XMen reboots. Like, what’s going on with that? How do you feel? Does it comfort you to know that while the new Macgyver doesn’t have a mullet, his hair is quite voluminous?

I legit know nothing about Macgyver or how he’d be portrayed by whichever robot stars in XMen. I am, however, a huge fan of voluminous hair. Especially when it’s soft and gently blowing in the wind. Wait. What was the question again?

To learn more about Erin, come to Charmington’s on November 15th at 7 PM. Compare frustration words and favorite Dr. Seuss books. Or buy a coffee and hear some wonderful words. Come on out!

5 Burning Questions With JP Allen

  1. What’s the worst thing about writing?
Talking about it with other people.
  1. What do you do when people ask “How’s your writing goin?
Answer honestly, then feel embarrassed about how easy it is for me to describe what I can’t help feeling should be a much more mysterious, magical process.
  1. Describe your thoughts on writing (either your own or in general) using as many nouns as possible.

Writing is excess is boredom is nothing is life is nothing is poetry is timing is everything is promise is family is partner is ex-partner is nonviolence is hope is pessimism is city is town is country is translation is apocalypse is past is machine is all is intelligence is artificial is sheet is leaf is water is home.

  1. What is it about your discipline (fiction/poverty/nonfiction/other) that draws you to it?
I’m going to quote Jaida Griffin, a poet whom I met through Writers in Baltimore Schools, on why she prefers poetry to fiction: “I don’t like breaking rules–I like breaking systems.”
  1. What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

I’m too indecisive for favorites (color, food, word, movie…) but I just learned a word I love: plangent. It means “plaintive/mournful” but also “loud/resounding.” It’s important to be precise about sorrow.

To learn more about JP, come to Charmington’s on Oct. 11 at 7 PM and talk to him. Maybe not about writing, though. Or do! He probably won’t be too plangent.