Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
I have an office upstairs in our old farmhouse. During the winter months I love to hide up there with a warm cup of coffee and write on my computer. I also journal quite a bit in a notebook and start many of my poems by hand. I take it with me when traveling or if I can get away to a local coffee shop for a few hours. I also do quite a bit of writing in my journal at our kitchen table, before anyone else is up and the day begins. I used to have a fairly rigid morning writing routine that has been altered (for now) by our two, lovely, little girls. June is almost 3 and Eloise is 10 months. Now, I find windows of time to write when they are napping or later in the evening. The morning, however, is still my most productive time.
How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
My mom has a box of my old writing projects that I started in elementary school. I wrote silly rhyming poems or made my own little magazines. I went into college wanting to be an English major, but fell in love with science and switched to Biology. Only after a solid decade of working in agricultural research did I feel a deep need to return to writing, poetry specifically.
Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for
Hard to say, it is always changing. Sometimes I write poems that are in conversation with other poets. Other times, my poems are to or about a person and a place. I have a lot of new poems about our sheep, and I am hoping there is an audience for them. Who doesn’t love a good sheep poem, right?
What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
As I said before, I came back to writing sort of instinctually. I wasn’t satisfied with science writing and yearned for a better way to express myself and my ideas about land and farming. Now, it is just what I do. Poetry is how I process the world and make connections between my life and the experience of others. I also write songs, and I find that music helps me generate poem ideas as well. When I am really blocked I usually seek out a group that I can write with, in a one-a-day activity or a workshop. Being in community with other writers gets my ideas flowing!
What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
We have a sheep and herb farm and that keeps me very busy. I definitely have less time to write during the spring and summer, but I take notes that I can return to in the winter. I play guitar and sing in an Americana trio with my husband and our friend Peter. On the farm I have a small studio where I do printmaking and ceramics, when I have the time. I also love to knit and do yoga and take long walks as well.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
Making connections is my favorite part of the creative process. I write a lot of personal and narrative poems, and I am also working on some essays for the first time. I love it when a new sentence or image illuminates an idea I am writing about. I often stop and think, “Well, where did that come from?” Or when I am making something with my hands and a new poem pops in my head. Those mysterious connections between doing and listening, giving and receiving are alive in the creative process for me.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Keep writing and then write some more. Share your work when it is ready and don’t be afraid to be honest in your work. That is when the best stuff comes out on the page.
Check out Jessica’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.