I have been tagged by Anita Mathias to join the Monday Blog Hop, which involves a tour of UK/US writers. I am delighted and honoured at the invitation, and enjoyed myself in answering the questions she passed along.
Often stopping to reflect on one’s work brings a respite of clarity – I should do this more often, if I wasn’t so mired in the work itself! It’s a good reminder of the wisdom that re-evaluation brings. “Teach us to number our days, the we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12). Indeed.
I include the questions and my answers below, and then I take the liberty of tagging two faith writers I’ve admired in the blogosphere to join in the same, Rachel Marie Stone and Pilar Arsenec:
What are you working on?
I just finished a collection of poems – like one of my favourite poets Luci Shaw (who also managed to raise 5 children!) I have found poetry conducive to mothering. Perhaps it’s the efficiency of the genre, perhaps it’s the way I have found the world to speak more loudly to me now as a mother (in all sorts of ways), perhaps it’s how I can, with poetry, work drafts and revisions into the nooks and crannies of my day. Perhaps it really is a Wordsworthian overflow of emotion recollected in tranquility when I finally do get to sit. Or a combination of all these aforesaid things. I have also felt so many combined emotions returning to my hometown, and of course I love the natural world, and especially the Canadian landscape. As with authors I enjoy reading, I tend to immerse myself in genres as well when I write. Hence, a lot of poetry lately.
I’m also about to launch a line of children’s books. This has been a project long close to my heart, so do stay tuned! I should have more information up on my website shortly.
And finally, I have been working for some time on a book project about the spiritual discipline of reading. The project has a more academic bent, but I hope to make it attractive to all readers as well as it grows out of my love of literature and two decades of teaching it. I believe words are holy things, and that our relationship to them needs to be upheld and nurtured, especially in our culture today.
How does your work differ from others in its genre?
While I enjoy memoir as a vein throughout most of what I do, I hope that it is malleable as appropriate. As a memoirist, I want to be known for keeping the same trustworthy voice, but approaching different topics with it. I am drawn to the interweaving of stories (I love allusion, and how it opens ideas and associations like Russian dolls, through just one word or phrase), along with history, art, and literature to create other worlds (fictive and creative non-fictive) that challenge us to grow closer to God –with all the terrible beauty that implies.
Why do you write what you do?
Look. Taste. Hear. See. God is good. Art is the overcoming of evil with good. Without the ardent pursuit of beauty and truth, we are the living dead, indeed – a fate far worse than death.
How does your writing process work?
This is a question that always fascinates me with other writers. For me, right now at this season in my life, I’m afraid I don’t have any process that “works.” As a mother to four small children yet, I often feel I am living out Emily Dickinson’s maxim: “When I try to organize, my little Force explodes.”
I try to write regularly, i.e. daily, even in some small way, shape or form, but this attempt or even good intention is often subject to circumstance, no matter how hard I try: a child’s illness, an elderly parent’s needs, the toddler crying. It can be frustrating, but it can also be quite humbling in its required re-setting of one’s heart. Then, we you do get to really be with your words, you appreciate the process and the words themselves. Writing becomes a kind of worship.
Sometimes I have the rare chance – or more likely I snap – and hide and write for long periods at a time. This can be quite productive, as I’ve spent a long while “percolating” before hand, even when on the run during my day. One blessing is that I very rarely suffer from writer’s block when I do get to sit by myself with a cup of tea and the page before me!
Carolyn Weber: Author of the critically acclaimed memoir Surprised by Oxford, Carolyn Weber holds her B.A. Honours in English from Huron College at the University of Western Ontario, Canada and her M.Phil. and D. Phil. Degrees in Romantic Literature from Oxford University, England. She has been a professor at the University of San Francisco, Seattle University, Westmont College and Oxford University, where she was also the first female dean of St. Peter’s College. An author, speaker and teacher, she currently resides in Southwestern Canada, with her husband and four spirited children.