I spent weeks walking past a poster for that Cowboys and Aliens film and I got to wondering why it is that in science fiction mashup movies the two cultures always have to be in conflict with each other (answer: it makes for a better action movie), but more than that I got to wondering what a movie where the two disparate cultures co-operated would be like. I thought it was a nice idea, and a good excuse to write about cowboys on the moon. Because: Cowboy on the Moon.
2. Tell us about that process. (Do you start sparse and widen out, or do you write down every possible association and cut back? Do you research the subject matter you are writing about? Is it pure intuition?) Take us through an example if you want.
It actually started as a tweet – the first line (including the title) is quite close to what I tweeted, but the idea stuck with me, and I got the itch to expand it. So I did.
3. What advice do you have for other writers ? about the first or last line? About how to choose the title? Do you follow any rules?
Don’t be afraid to delete first lines. Even if they’re the first line you had the idea for. ESPECIALLY if they’re the first line you had the idea for. Same goes for last lines. And all the lines in between. You’d be amazed what can happen to a poem when you delete your favourite line.
Re: titles, I’m no help. They always come last and I often just cop out and make the first line the title, or repeat a phrase that I like from within the poem. The only rule that I apply to the poems I write is that they have to have the key to understanding it somewhere within itself. Sometimes I break that rule, though.
4. Who or what inspires your writing?
Too many things to write down in a way that doesn’t just seem like a list that is intended to make me sound clever. But maybe, if I ran that risk, I’d say something like pulp fiction, love, curiosity and pedantry. And a predilection for talking bullshit.
5. Tell us what do you do if you haven’t written anything in a while and you want to get started writing again? Could you share your favourite writing exercise with our readers?
I read. I read my favourite authors, but it doesn’t have to be my favourite authors. Just reading anything gets the cogs turning, but poetry in particular is quite inspirational for the act of writing poetry.
I don’t think I have a FAVOURITE writing exercise, but I do like mashing two disparate things together to see if they can stand up independently, like villanelles and piranha movies, or sonnets and internet memes. Or aliens and cowboys, I guess.