Describe your creative space. Do you work at home, in public spaces, etc.?
It varies. Sometimes, I am able to work at home. Other times, I have to make myself go somewhere like the library or a coffee shop. It really depends on how difficult it is for me write at the time. If I’m in a period of inspiration, it’s no problem for me to write at home. If I’m struggling to create new work, home is too comfortable. It’s too easy to get distracted there. I have to force myself into a public space where I am less comfortable to get anything done.
What kind of materials do you use? Do you write by hand or type? What is your favorite writing utensil?
When I started writing, I usually wrote by hand. I spent a lot of time at various writing groups, open mics, etc. and my laptop was very heavy to carry around. Now that laptops are much lighter, and I usually write alone, I type everything.
What is your routine for writing?
To be honest, I don’t have one. I write when I feel like writing, and if I don’t, I work on other creative projects. If it seems like it’s been a long time since I’ve written, I’ll push myself to write a few new pieces. But I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who writes every day. My writing comes in spurts.
How long have you been writing? When did you start writing?
I started writing in the fall of 2010, so about 7 years now. I always joke that I was peer pressured into becoming a poet because I used to attend poetry slams as a spectator, and a group of poets convinced me to attend their writing group, and then they convinced me to get on the mic, and so began my journey. I slammed for about 2 years, took a few workshop classes in undergrad, and then got accepted into an MFA program. I sometimes think about trying to slam again now that grad school is done.
Who is your intended, or ideal, audience? Who do you write for?
I’ve asked myself this question a lot. Ultimately, I think I am writing for anyone who may feel alone or misunderstood in their feelings. I write a lot about trauma, but I like to think that I write from a place of hope. My hope doesn’t necessarily look the way some people think it should. When you experience trauma, going back to “normal” afterwards isn’t really an option. You are different. The world looks different to you. There are times when you truly feel haunted by shit. But you are still alive in your little haunted house. So, I often write about living with my various ghosts.
What inspires you to write? If you are blocked, what do you do?
I find inspiration in the strangest things. Roadkill has inspired a number of my recent poems, as have some of the not-so-sexy realities of having sex. Life is messy, and I guess I find the mess inspiring. When I can’t write in my primary genre, which is poetry, I usually turn to something else. I sometimes write nonfiction. I also have a comic called “Uterus & Ellie.” I’m terrible at making comics since I can’t draw or use graphic design software worth a damn. But I have fun with it. I recently made a collage type thing because I’m blocked. It’s weird looking. I think I’ll hang it on the wall.
What other things do you do besides writing? Do you dance or play golf, etc.?
Well there’s the comic I just mentioned. Besides that, and my thrilling day job in insurance, about all I do is try to exercise enough to counteract my horrible diet. Around the time I turned 30, I started freaking out about my cardiovascular health. I ran outdoors for about 18 months, and then my knee started giving out about 5 months ago and it hasn’t healed. So, no more running. I was swimming for a bit, but then I developed a rare skin condition. So, no more swimming. I just joined a gym, so we’ll see how that goes.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
I love writing the endings of my poems. I’ve got a thing for endings. I like for them to be unexpected, and I get really excited when I come up with something super creepy.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
This is difficult because I never set out to become a writer. It just sort of happened and I ran with it. So, “run with it” maybe? Also, don’t freak out and think you’re not a writer anymore if you go through a period in your life where you don’t write much. Don’t let the people who have their daily writing routine set in stone make you feel like that is the only way to do this. Being a writer looks different for everybody. Do it on your terms, not someone else’s.
Check out Ellie’s work (Pushcart nomination) in Volume 3 Issue 2.