When I first joined Twitter years ago I made friends with Michael Douglas Jones, someone who I have long admired for his many talents and profound wisdom:
I always speak in the present tense. What else is there?
— MichaelDouglas Jones (@MJonesStudio) May 31, 2014
I was invited by Michael to participate in a blog tour designed to introduce blogs through specific questions designed to unravel the threads from the many phrases and images that are woven on the page. I feel a bit inadequate in the task, to be honest, as I have already gotten the first task wrong — post my response on the correct date. Most importantly, to be recognized by an artist I regard as a true mentor has been both lovely and humbling. I hope that Michael will not regret it.
Michael Douglas Jones studied fine art in Maryland and specialized in trompe l’oeil oil paintings for years before using his current medium, collage and digital composite photography. I have been wanting to own some of his artwork for quite a long time and have told my husband so, but somehow I still ended up with a juicer attachment to my Kitchenaid this last Mother’s Day.
Of course, Michael’s words are just as beautiful as his artwork. He is currently working on his second book Written Receipts for Paid Attention, and his first book, Union, was published in 2011.
Thank you Michael for this opportunity.
What am I working on?
Everything in my life at the moment is a work in progress. Everything from managing my depression and anxiety, raising my children, to balancing the roles between rape/sexual assault victim and survivor. However, all of these works in progress affect my writing and the many bits and pieces of drafts that I have in various stages.
I currently have my first collection of essays in editing — terrifying and exciting at the same time. This essay collection has been more of an emotional barrier for me to overcome rather than a goal to necessarily meet as it has given me permission to free my words. This endeavor is not so much one in which I hope to sell many copies, but to actually see it to completion.
Those who know my writing only through this blog may not know that I also write fiction. My fictional characters are like my “dirty little secret” and not many have met them — they are a quirky assortment of people. They fight for so much space in my head that it makes it impossible to finish any of their stories, and so far I have carried out one storyline to the end and it is incredibly rough. The rest of them are hanging out somewhere in the world of Exposition or Rising Action. One is tickling Climax, which is really a terrible place to be if you think about it.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
“What do you write?” might be the most puzzling question I am ever posed because I am not quite sure how to answer. I feel quite amateurish in this world and I feel almost like a fraud to even presume to have a genre. It would seem like I were stuffing a bra. Or so I have been told.
I would like to think, however, that my writing is honest and real. What appears on papers or screen is what appears in person. This bothers some. It bothers those who would rather have delicates layered in social niceties, and that is not me. I have passions that will drive my writing and I won’t be censored. There have been times when I have been accused of being “uppity” (my favorite) or uninformed or misguided, any number of things. All of things truly have made me laugh because I can assure these people, as would anyone who knew me, that I am none of these things.
Does this answer the question? I don’t really know. I do know that I write what moves me; I can’t speak for anyone else.
Why do I write/create what I do?
Simple. Because I can. I spent far too much of my life caring and worrying about doing what would be expected in hopes of making other people pleased with me. And failing. Then, after many hardships and heartbreaks, victories and steady realizations, I learned that I can do this. What’s more, I always have been able to do this, so why haven’t I? Once I took ownership over my words again, my creativity, and my truth, I became fire again.
Sure, I could do more to publicize my blog. I don’t fault anyone who does. I have great admiration for those who have blogging their careers and I might turn to them for some advice at some point.
But right now that is not why I do this “writing thing” as my parents call it. I do it because I love it. When the words whisper to me I know it is time to set them down, let them wander about on the page and settle where feel it’s right. It’s about taking the unsettled heart races in my veins and letting them photo finish on screen. This is why I write. I need the silent epiphanies that sometimes come with an ellipses and not a period.
How does your writing/creating process work?
I will finally confess: I am a terrible English teacher. For all the times I taught to edit and proofread I would cringe inside knowing I was saying pretty words that I never practiced. I can possibly count on both hands the amount of essays I have actually edited and proofread before publishing. I can guarantee that the majority of everything written on here was never looked at again by me before I hit “publish”.
Terrible. Everyone is going on an error hunt now, I am sure of it. And the hunt will be prosperous.
Other than failing to proofread, my writing/creating process is erratic and mad — completely fitting for someone like me. I will either have a current event that is on my mind and I will write without stopping about it, so inspired that I have no choice but to allow the words to fall from me. There will be other times when some experience will happen in my own personal life as a woman or mother or citizen that I think is relatable to something else in recent news or events.
Then there are those times when I have phrase turn over in my head for days and days. The kinds of phrases that will take root and slowly grow into something interesting and out comes something that has no choice but to be written. Who am I to stop these words that need to burst?
With all that growing and bursting you’d think I would proofread, but no. No, I don’t. I never learn.
I’ve invited two of my favorites along this blog tour journey with me. I hope you will take a moment to read their bios and visit their blogs. They will be joining the blog tour with their responses next Monday, July 9th.
From Liz Amaya-Fernandez’s blog: Trying to make sense of the world around me. Traveler, parent, partner, health educator, teacher. Attempting to quiet my mind, so I can listen to my heart, and write. I am playing with words, using this space to begin stories, explore themes, and dance with other creative spirits.
Please read her beautiful poetry at Mujerzen’s Blog