A pastor and a professor raised you. Tell me about your upbringing and how it affects your writing.
Oh, there were no words left un-interrogated in that house. My mom filled the house with books, and where she left off, my dad continued. Funny fact—my dad still memorizes every sermon each week. He writes it out on Thursday and Friday night and practices on Saturday. I can’t believe he still does it that way. Mom let me read anything. There was no such thing as verboten books. There were times where she wondered if something were too mature for me, but I absorbed only what I could understand.
Have your father’s sermons’ pastoral, religious, or spiritual themes ever found their way into your poetry?
Absolutely. I believe in redemption. I believe some poems are really prayer. I believe one is called to write poems because God knows it’s not for money. I believe the words move you and not the other way around. I believe that one should submit humbly to hearing what the soul has to say. I’m not terribly religious, but I know some poems come, and I just stand by and attend their journey into the world.
There are poems I’ve written that feel like I had very little to do with getting them on the page. I start writing and get my ego out of the way. I don’t know if that’s spiritual, but Dad and I have often talked about doing the reading and preparing only to have magic happen when we’re sitting down to write about it. I realized only after the fact that all the Bible reading I did as a child (if you don’t want to be in church, no one ever raises an eyebrow if you’re recreationally reading a Bible) comes through all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll hear a Bible verse attributed and hit my head and realize that I quoted it almost verbatim in a poem.
When do you do most of your writing?
After work. Late and in bars. Specifically at the Red Door Saloon. I don’t know why that bar, but it’s my place, and it gets really loud. I know I should leave around the time that Ronnie or Danny gets on shift at 8 or 8:30 p.m. If I stay longer, I’m really only watching baseball or basketball. And drinking.
How does your current work schedule affect your writing schedule?
Christ. I don’t sleep. And I can really only write in bars. I need the ambient noise. I tried cafes, but I can’t drink coffee after 3 p.m. I’d never sleep at all if I wrote there. This year, I plan to write a little slower because I have tasked myself to re-certify on the BI (Microsoft’s Business Intelligence) stack. It’s something that I’ve needed to do, but was too busy writing to get it accomplished. I’m striving for balance.
What do your co-workers think about your writing?
Some people know that I write, and others don’t. Because I’m the only American developer on my team, I can’t be a “grammar Nazi” when I speak only one language fluently. I’m more impressed with them and the myriad ways that English is spoken between them. It’s like being in a linguistic mixing bowl. Sometimes (and I’ve never told them this), I sit back in meetings and listen to the musicality of them talking back and forth about an issue. Then, I snap out of it and realize that there’s work to be done.