The Magnolia Review: Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
JP Sheridan: I work at home in a room that serves as our library, my office, and a space to put the (mostly unused) treadmill. It’s yellow, and I have a calendar on the wall in front of me that I use to keep track of daily word counts.
TMR: What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
JPS: I mainly type, but when I’m traveling I hand-write in a spiral-bound, large-format sketchbook. For whatever reason, I hate carrying a laptop around.
TMR: What is your routine for writing?
JPS: Up every morning at 4:15. Shower, coffee. In the chair by 5:00 AM. Write until 6:45. Try to get 500 words. Wake up the daughter. Wake up the wife. Eat oatmeal and watch cartoons.
TMR: How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
JPS: I’ve been writing, off and on, as long as I can remember, but different things at different times: poetry, lyrics, silly little comics, finally fiction. I’ve been what one might call “seriously” writing fiction for about three or four years now. The Magnolia Review will be my 10th publication.
TMR: Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
JPS: There are a few people in my life, from my present and from my past, who could make me quite satisfied by saying they enjoyed what I’ve written. I keep them to myself, because they’re like magic: once you reveal the secret, they lose all of their power.
TMR: What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
JPS: Nothing inspires me to write. Writing for real is a serious, hard, daily grind. At times it’s all-consuming. Sometimes it turns me into a whiny crybaby. Seriously. It’s hard work. I want to get better at what I do, so I practice every day. If I’m blocked, I read. Reading, for a writer, is a cure-all.
TMR: What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
JPS: I dance but not well, and the closest I every came to dying was on the golf course with my 15-year-old brother. So ixnay on that, too. I teach writing, and I hang with my family, and I take my dog for a walk. I spend a lot of time actively trying to think about something other than what I’m working on.
TMR: What is your favorite part of the creative process?
JPS: When I realize that the puzzle pieces I’ve been trying to cram together for the past two weeks actually kinda fit all of a sudden. It happens less often than one might think.
TMR: What is your advice to aspiring writers?
JPS: If you think you can write without a schedule, if you think it’ll work out without a routine, if you have no discipline about it, if you let doubt beat you, if you don’t put your butt in the chair and leave the phone in the kitchen, you are SUNK.
Check out JP’s work in the issue, Volume 3, Issue 1.