It has been a delightful week of poetry, short stories and gorgeous paintings by Douglas C Pugh. To learn more about Doug, his writer's forum, and ezine check out his interview questions below.
Thanks so much for sharing your creativity and fun sense of humor with us, Doug!
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"july 30th" © Douglas C. Pugh
*Mnemosyne* Interview with Douglas C Pugh
When did you first have an interest in poetry?
I'd have to say at school when we hit the war poets. Poems like Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et decorum est' just riveted me, blew me away. I'd always been a creative story writer and loved reading fiction of all kinds, but poems like that shook me, showed me different, deeper perspectives. Strangely enough though, I didn't really try writing poetry until my mother goaded me to enter a competition which resulted in my offerings both being published in print. I was even more blown away that my stuff was received so well. The gap between reading the war poets and Mum goading me was about ten years or more. I think I needed some life experience to give me depth.
What is your writing process?
I start with a thought or phrase. Sometimes I can just turn it on at the drop of a hat, other times the words just won't come and anything I write is wooden and stilted. I tend to get very mad with myself at times like that. Not that I let it bother anything else. I know being mad at myself is just that, but I tolerate any of my own failings quite badly. Worst self critic, I suppose.
When I am 'in the groove', the words spill out at a rate of knots. Sometimes, it's hard enough to keep up with them, follow the thought. Annoys the wife incredibly because she plots and measures each word, whereas I just rattle the stuff out. One thing I do find hard though is editing my own stuff. When it's done, it's done. I do try to offer advice and critique for others. Although I can do that, I always feel very underqualified.
Where do you write? Is Ambiance Important?
All I need is silence and my mind. Oh. And a keyboard!
Do you have rituals or habits when you write?
Just keep an unhealthy supply of coffee (or coca cola), cigarettes and chocolate nearby.
How do you prepare for a feature poetry reading? Do you practice your poetry before a reading?
One thing I've never really done is a reading. I'd love to try some time.
How do you think your writing impacts the lives of others?
With what I think is my diverse range of styles (I'm never quite sure what's going to happen before I write). I'd like to think that they'll either give people pause for thought, pause for a smile or even take them for a short trip to a different place and perspective. If I could write something that leaves anyone at the end of it thinking 'Woohoo! What a rush!', then fabulous.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Somewhere in the depths of my mind. I have no idea from one minute to the next. I write anything from the erotic to the silly, the deeply philosophical (I hope) to the disturbing. Sometimes I'll write something and wonder where the heck it came from. My first novel, 'A Pocketful of Feathers' is about a highly disturbed war veteran with sociopathic tendencies. Given that I'm a gentle, quiet guy, a lot of friends were a bit stunned. I think it is possibly my best work and definitely the most complex.
Who are your favorite writers/poets?
I struggle to answer this one. Everyone has the ability to just write something mind blowing. And I do mean everyone. I find it hard to say 'This writer is best' because I tend to view each poem or story on its own merits. I tend not to be overawed by anyone's reputation. I plain don't care ... each writer has as much merit as any other, whether they are just starting out or a seasoned 'recognised' starlet.
How has poetry changed your life?
I think that until I hit my mid 30s I had no framework to understand the biggest mystery in my life. Me. Poetry helped me to express a ton of stuff that I think I just suppressed, never really tried to understand before. Not that it really makes me any smarter or more understanding. I think it opened new avenues for expression. Which in itself really gives you more questions!
What advice would you give beginning poets/writers?
Do not be afraid of the words. See them as a huge hot tub. Soak them up, bask in them. Then say what you want to say.
What is your view on self publishing?
I think for some people it really is a valid option, particularly if you're not looking at making money. For some people, that's fine and I really can appreciate that. Just so long as they realise that many publishers look on it as a blot on your track record if you aspire to greater things afterwards.
What makes your writing unique?
I'd like to think that it's my versatility. I quite often get 'That's in the style of ...' when I post one up. Kind of flattering sometimes, but I often blush because in most cases I've never read '...'. And the next poem I can almost guarantee will never be remotely close!
Tell us about the ezine you edit.
I'm a great one for ideas. The wife is far better at the execution of them. We started TheRightEyedDeer as a spin-off from The Write Idea forum. Even the name was a suggestion from one of the members, and given that I'm all but blind in the left eye (possible MS, still undergoing diagnosis) it certainly had a ring about it that said 'Dear God. Yes, that is just right'. We wanted to offer it as both an avenue for writers on the forum to get an access route to publishing, and to draw people to the forum. We are possibly over critical on what we publish. We refuse to point blank publish just anything in it. The Deer's really picky. Each issue has a theme and we try to encourage all forms of writing. The next issue (submission deadline Sep 15 2009) is a micro fiction special. We also feature an interview with a poet or fiction writer in each issue. Well, TheDeer actually does the interview. Surprising sometimes what you can find out.
Long term, we'd like to make TheRightEyedDeer a paying market. Short term, the quarterly ezine is offered as a free PDF download. We were pretty blown away by the response. The first issue topped 300 downloads and it keeps on growing.
Tell us about your writer's forum.
The Write Idea (http://www.helenwhittaker.net/phpBB2) has been around for nearly five years. It was originally based in the UK, moved to New Zealand and then last year the founder (Helen Whittaker) surprised the heck out of Donna and I and asked us to take it over. Helen has been superbly successful as a writer for the educational books' market. She has emigrated to New Zealand and is currently building a house there, leaving her little time to run the forum.
Over the last 15 months, we've added a few things to the site, mainly a number of writing competitions. We now have our nine round/eighteen week slog (The Whittaker Prize), for both poetry and fiction; a six week/six round poetry blitz called THE STIRRED POeT, and are about to indulge in a multi-disciplinary challenge called The TWIWrite Zone. It's all about driving people to write and having fun at the same time. The community feel on there is generally pretty good, though, like most places, it can have the odd artistic clash of personalities. We've got members from all over the world and we're very proud of the accomplishments of some of the members.
What impact do you think online social forums have had for artists, writers and musicians? (positive, negative, etc...?)
In the main, it's got to be very positive (I met the wife on a writing forum!). The sheer opening of the world to people meeting other people with the same interests, etc. is incredible. I do think there are yet to be resolved issues about things like copyright and the power of some of the internet oligarchs to control whole aspects of the market. Publishing generally is going through a huge shift and change. It's like someone has thrown all the pieces of a jigsaw out there and we're still figuring how all those pieces fit together. This, of course, affects writers and their avenues, even revenues, and we're still finding our way through the chaos of it all. To a degree though, writers are writers, and no matter what they'll write. Where it goes though is still very much up in the air.