A: My first published poem was when I was ten. A horrible little piece about my teacher for the school competition that I had to keep reciting for people until I forgot it. I remember being SO nervous…probably has a bit to do with my social anxiety disorder now. But as for any real writing attempts they came much later in my late teens and on. Still clumsy fumblings of course, but it is hardly ever a pretty process I should imagine. Probably quite the horror show when viewed from the outside, but boy do we like to stew in our own dark little cocoons. I’m 38 now, so mine has been going on for quite some time. No butterflies at the end. Just the magic of some half decent words with any luck.
Q: Who are your biggest inspirations/your favorite writers?
A: I don’t know about inspirations, but I do have many favourite writers: Kafka, Fante, Orwell, Hamsun, Joyce, and Dostoevsky in terms of prose and novels. When it comes to poetry: Richard Brautigan, Leonard Cohen, Bukowski, William Blake, early Ginsberg, Al Purdy, E.E Cummings, Siegfried Sassoon, Auden, etc. Basho is fantastic for economy of verse. I’m normally not a fan of haiku, but Basho is amazing! I also enjoy Roald Dahl stories very much.
Ben John Smith out of Melbourne, Australia is the best modern writer out there today in my opinion. I also enjoy the work of Rich Wink and Wayne F. Burke and Steven Storrie among others.
Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?
A: I used to write at night. I would start about 8 in the pm and go until about 3 in the morning. Then I would make dinner, eat, and go to bed. Now I write during the day whenever I can. Life gets in the way as it does for all of us but I was diagnosed with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder (among other things) so the medications I have to take throughout the day at specific times ensure that I have to stick to a more normal schedule than I used to. Still, writing is more of a compulsion for me than anything else, so whatever is going on in my life I always seem to find time to write even when it seems I don’t have it. I’m often reminded of Monet standing over his dying wife’s deathbed and studying the colour gradations of death so he could paint it later rather than mourning properly. Not that I am Monet or anything, but it really does become that kind of self-absorbed sickness. Writing is a selfish thing to do. Outside of it, I try to be a better person when I can
Q: Why do you write?
A: Like I said, writing is a compulsion for me…a sickness of sorts. I believe they call it Hypergraphia. I write all over everything: mirrors, old newspapers, oatmeal packets, envelopes, the computer, yellow sticky notes…whatever. I know others write as a form of therapy and others still for enjoyment but it is just a compulsion for me; a repetitive mechanism more than anything. I remember when writing used to make me happy, that feeling you would get, that great swelling inside when you knew you had done good – better than any drug in existence! But I don’t feel that anymore. I feel good for those that do. If writing is therapeutic in some way or makes you happy than do that. It is good to be happy. There is much too much of the other in the world.
Q: Do you have any favorite quotes from writers?
“I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.” – Ray Bradbury
“The earth laughs in flowers” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Reduce intellectual and emotional noise until you arrive at the silence of yourself, and listen to it.” – Richard Brautigan
“All my life, my heart has yearned for a thing I cannot name” – Andre Breton
The summit sings what is being spoken in the depths” – Tristan Tzara
“Even when we sleep we watch over one another” – Paul Eluard
“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” – Charles Bukowski
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations” – Ray Bradbury
“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings…Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting” – John Updike
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give new/aspiring writers?
A: You will most assuredly begin with some form of mimicry based on what you have read and how you have come to it but you must find your own voice and be uncompromising in that voice. Also, do not be so worried about what others will think. Write fiercely and with a brutal honesty that will lose you friends and put strains on your personal and familial relationships. Lastly, never forgot to inject your work with humour. You either laugh at the joke or you become the joke…I choose to laugh.
Q: Do you have any collections, chapbooks, or other books available for people to purchase?
A: I do. If you are interested in checking out some of my work you can find it at the usual haunts: Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble etc., as well as at lulu.com or from many of the individual publishers directly. The easiest way is probably from my personal website: http://ryanquinnflanagan.yolasite.com/