Ed Higgins–Interview

Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?

I have a loft above our old farm house’s kitchen. My extensive library’s there as is my MacBook—with internet connection. (Also, I taught fiction writing for years at my university & whenever there was an in-class writing session I’d also write/draft along with my students.)

What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?

For some years now I’ve written exclusively on a MacBook. Before that by hand on legal pads. Once I have a word-processor draft of something I’m working on I generally do a printout & work on that by hand before returning to the Mac file & updating the revision. Mostly the work then continues on the revised draft file—but sometimes another printout before once again returning to the computer file. I like the ease of on-screen revision, but the printouts let me go back to an original version for review or recovery of something that’s been otherwise lost when I’ve frequently “saved” the on-screen version.

What is your routine for writing?

Time for writing has to be stolen from other intruding and/or necessary life activities. So I don’t write every day. But I do try to dedicate at least one-day-a-week exclusively to writing: some daytime hours, some late nite slogs—especially late nite slogs if something seems to be coming together (a poem, story, essay). I also carry with me a small note pad and will often jot down a thought, image, response to something I’ve seen, read, had a conversation about—to later follow-up on.

How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?

I started writing in college almost 50 years ago: really bad poetry; really bad fiction. But I kept at it, kept reading other writers, and eventually became better at seeing how poetry/fiction worked as craft.

Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?

I generally don’t have an intended audience (unless I’m writing genre fiction/poetry; say, for science fiction). Mostly, I write for myself, for the kick I get out of playing around with words, characters, plot, emotion: the challenge of making something out of words that results in “Whoa, I did this & it’s pretty good!” I like the creative ‘click’ of affirmation that something worthwhile has come together—if the initial affirmation click is only from me!

What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?

I’m more compelled than inspired as a writer. Compelled to make meaning(s) of this singular experience of our being—and being drawn to explore through words the many facets of living that catch my attention. I’m seldom “blocked” as a writer, but if something seems to be “stuck” I move on to something else in my shitty-drafts/unfinished file. Or I just go outside and play frisbee with my whippet. Or read: poetry, fiction, novels, catch-up on the too many magazines I subscribe to.

What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?

I’m small-acreage organic farmer with usually half-a-dozen steers, three pigs, a herd of chickens, a smaller herd of turkeys, and a Manx barncat to daily feed/water/care-for. And in summers I make hay (literally), plus other farm-related chores. While retired from full-time university-level teaching, I still teach a couple of World Literature through the academic year. I’m also Asst. Editor for an online journal, Brilliant Flash Fiction. And I belong to a 6-person writing group that meets bi-monthly to share in-process draft work.

What is your favorite part of the creative process?

Giddy to have finished something! While I like the getting-lost-in-to-completely-wrapped-up-with when I’m engaged on a writing project, completing a piece gives me the satisfaction to keep flagellating myself by pushing words around to make them happen into something I’m not self-embarrassed by.

What is your advice to aspiring writers?

Be persistent. Write, write, write. And read, read, read—especially your contemporaries who are putting out stuff you want to be a part of. And submit, submit, submit your work to journals you admire work in (there’s a horde of really fine online literary journals out there—read, read, read, then submit!). Don’t be discouraged by rejection: if the piece seems to need more work/polishing, do it; if you think as-is is still good, submit elsewhere. Finally, join a writing group: one that will give you honest, supportive feedback.

Check out Ed’s work in Volume 3, Issue 2.

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