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Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
I write every morning from my favorite spot at home. It looks out over our backyard and pond. I am surrounded by stacks of books and journals. Typically, my three dogs are snoozing somewhere near me. I love to write in parks or while hiking. I have a favorite tree in a park near my home that I sit under and write when the weather permits. If it is raining or snowing, I still go and park near it to work. I love the way the long branches curve and sweep over the ground.
What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
I type everything into Word. After many revisions, I decide what to do with what I have. I like to take longer works and pull small poems out to use as needed. I am always looking for fragments to include in my mixed media paintings. I also use a calligraphy pen or a brush with Sumi ink when I am creating haiga or haiku. I have an old vintage typewriter I will pull out when I get bored. I also like to write on napkins and scraps of paper if I am out and need to jot my thought down. I like to mix it up because it’s fun and a great way to tap into my creativity.
What is your routine for writing?
I write every day regardless of what is going on in my life. My prime writing time is between 4am and 9am after I down two or three cups of decaf coffee.
How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
I have been writing for over 20 years but didn’t start sending out my work seriously till 2017. It was during my graduate work as an MFA candidate that I decided to start submitting the work from my thesis. I started writing consistently in my twenties. The first poem I remember writing was at the age of 13. I have taken many breaks along the way but for the past six years I have made a slow and steady progression toward living a writer’s life.
Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
Most often I write for those struggling with loss and grieving after trauma—hoping to connect on some level.
What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
The natural world is the strongest source of inspiration for me. Words inspire as well. I will see a word and want to explore it, which leads to new ideas. If I am blocked, I go out into the forest or get my telescope out and look at the Moon. Sitting quietly while being in awe of the beauty all around us is a powerful cure for many things. Try it and see!
What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
I have been painting for a long time. I am currently exploring Encaustic painting. I love the idea of working with a medium that is centuries old. I read and have an extensive book collection that grows despite all my efforts to contain it. I have been taking voice lessons for over five years just for fun. I sing mostly 40s tunes, and I only perform for my dogs because they get me.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
The genesis of new ideas and creating something out of nothing.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Write everyday despite what is going on in your life. Even if life is falling apart—keep writing. It doesn’t have to come out of the gate finished and remember if you don’t write it down you might not be able to recover the thought later. Read extensively. Read across genres.
Check out Mary’s work in Volume 4, Issue 1.
Mary Hanrahan is an artist and poet living in East Lansing, Michigan. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in counseling. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Modern Haiku, Frogpond,The Merrimack Review, Bottle Rockets Press, Sonic Boom,Hedgerow: a journal of small poems, The Cherita, The Ghazal Page and elsewhere.
Residual Value, Volume 4, Issue 1