Q & A With Summer Writing Retreat Instructor Scott Wiggerman

Scott Wiggerman is an Austin poet and the instructor of the WLT’s upcoming Summer Writing Retreat course, Working Out Your Writing Muscles: A One-Week Exercise Program. This course will provide dozens of exercises–both orthodox and unorthodox–toward generating new ideas for writing, whether you write poetry, fiction, or memoir, whether you are a new or a seasoned writer.

To read more about Scott’s Summer Writing Retreat course, click here.

To register, click here.

To learn more about Scott, read on!

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories and Ted Berrigan’s The Sonnets (I usually have two books going at once, one of which is always a poetry book).

When you’re not reading or writing, what do you like to do with your time?

Besides reading or writing, which seem to take most of my time (okay, Facebooking too), I like to make collages, walk, watch movies, and eat.

What’s your favorite opening line of a book?

A line from a recent book that totally hooked me was Jeannette Walls’ opening for The Glass Castle: “I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.”  How could anyone not want to read this book?

What life lesson did your last book or project teach you?

Be patient.  Trying to rush only leads to errors.

What word do you love? What word do you detest?

I have so many words I love, but one I’m really into right now is “wingbeats.”  A word I detest is “putrid.”

What is a little known fact about yourself?

Many people don’t realize that I was born in North Carolina—on a Marine base—though everyone else in my family is Chicago-born.

How do you deal with ups and downs of the publishing business?

Since I write poetry, I don’t have to deal with ups and downs—the business of publishing poetry is always down.

How do you balance writing with work and family?

I’m lucky, as my partner is also a writer, so he totally understands the need to be apart and write.

What is your writing routine and where do you write?

I don’t have a routine, per se, though afternoons seem to be when I most often write.  I am usually on a sofa in the living room, as I write longhand till it gets to the point where I have to keyboard the mess!

Do you outline or just start writing?

I often start with a single line, which many days comes from a morning walk (I always walk with pen and paper).

Do you have trusted readers you turn to as you write, and if so, who and what stage?

My partner, David Meischen, is the first person who sees my writing, but I trust the WLT’s poetry critique group, which I joined more than fifteen years ago and which I now lead.  I have come to rely on them.  However, no one sees my writing until it’s well beyond a draft and had considerable revision!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

As a child I wrote short stories, and as a teen I thought I’d be writing novels, but in college I took a serious turn toward poetry—and I’ve been with it ever since!

Cyndi’s Fast Five

1. What are three things in your office/writing space that would surprise someone who popped in?

A photograph of me with Janis Ian, a Rusty Speck print with a misspelled title (“The Shepard”), a painted gourd.

2. What book first influenced you as a child?

I hate to say it, but those cheap series—Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys—truly captured my imagination.  I read and reread them many times—and I still love mysteries (though somewhat darker, like Patricia Cornwell).

3. What time of day do you write?

Afternoons, often with several cups of coffee.

4. If you could have a beer or coffee with a writer living or dead, who would it be and why?

Probably Sylvia Plath—just so I could get behind the mythology and see for myself what she was really like (though I suspect Anne Sexton would be more fun!)

5. Beer or coffee?

If I could only have one or the other, coffee would win hands down!

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