The Magnolia Review: Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
Joan McNerney: I do my writing at home. Often ideas surface during the day when I am swimming or driving in my car. This is especially true about poems I am currently working on.
TMR: What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
JM: I had no problem switching from writing in pen to working on a computer. I like using the computer because changes are made easily and keeping different ideas on file is simplified. It is important to make paper copies of all my work because of the danger of my computer “crashing”. Also have backups such as a thumb drive and DVD copies.
TMR: What is your routine for writing?
JM: I check my email every day. When inspiration strikes that is my idea of writer’s paradise. Now since my retirement, I can spend most of the day working on my poetry if the spirit moves me to do so.
TMR: How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
JM: I started writing in high school and was published in Young America Sings. There has been so much progress for writers now with the internet and all the exciting on-line publications. The e-mail is also a wonderful way to communicate with editors.
TMR: Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
JM: Anyone who takes the time to read my writing is applauded. Especially young readers are appreciated. Now with so many TV channels, computer games and videos, let us hope that the art of reading still flourishes. The ability to learn and acquire new information is very high for readers. Also it takes a creative leap to join the author in a voyage through the pages of literature.
TMR: What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
JM: Who knows what sets off an inspiration? The creative process is a mystery. When blocked, I read both print and on the computer. Some time might be spent checking out markets, clearing out old files on my hard drive, putting finishing touches on some “poetry in progress”.
TMR: What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
JM: I swim as often possible and maintain a steady presence at our local pools. Also there are regular adult classes which are actually very good. There are six sessions of two hours each and taught by practicing professors. This year the history of fairy tales and of jazz will be explored. It is exciting to be introduced to new things.
TMR: What is your favorite part of the creative process?
JM: Some poems just come out as finished. These are usually quite good. Being inspired makes the whole process worthwhile. Creativity is a gift which is misunderstood. People often want to know “how much money do you make” as if everything can be reduced to dollars and cents. They miss the point that seeing the world through the lens of an artist is a reward in itself.
I must admit getting acceptances and being published in beautiful journals both in print and on line is very fulfilling. Having been nominated four times for Best of the Net was very exciting for me. Some other publications have called me “best poet of the year” and some have named me “resident poet” while others have called me “poet of the month. All this has been very gratifying.
TMR: What is your advice to aspiring writers?
JM: Have patience and perseverance. Remember there is much joy in creativity and don’t let anyone dissuade you from pursuing your goals. You might seek out other poets at poetry readings and join some face book poetry groups. Remember that a rejection is only the reaction of an editor at one juncture in space and time. Forge onward.
Check out Joan’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.