Today’s installment of January’s Three by Five conversation with Poet Trish Hopkinson is about the writing life.
VAH: Are you a full-time writer?
TH: I have a full-time job as a project manager for a software company. I’ve been with the company for over 15 years and I love what I do, but writing poetry is a necessity for me. I just am not happy unless I make time for it.
VAH: What gets you writing?
TH: I collect writing prompts, but I rarely refer back to them. I almost always have something in mind or on a list that I want to write, and since I have limited time available to actually do the writing, I’m usually ready to go when I do sit down to write.
VAH: I’ve got a whole book of prompts and ideas and even have them land in my email box. Like you, I rarely refer back to them. What is your “process” when working on a new piece of writing?
TH: Once I have a topic, I start composing the first lines and edit as I go. Once I have the first draft done, I’ll go back and do the first revision immediately—look for better word choices to add alliteration, assonance, and/or consonance; take out all the line breaks and then put in new line breaks, etc. If I do get stuck mid-poem, I’ll look for a form to help me move it along, such as a villanelle or a sonnet.
VAH: Do you have a submission system or plan?
TH: My process for submitting has really evolved over the last year. Essentially, I rely on Duotrope to track most submissions, I put deadlines in my Outlook calendar, and I keep a spreadsheet of the poems I want to submit, have submitted, and whether or not they’ve already been published and where. Since my time is limited, it’s important to me to be as efficient as possible. I have templates for cover letters and several bios of different lengths to help the submission process go more quickly.
VAH: Duotrope has been very helpful for me. I found I’m able to keep better track of where I’ve sent a piece that has gone out numerous times and not yet found a home. I’m trying a spreadsheet this year, after years of a pen and notebook tracker as well as Duotrope. What does your typical writing day include?
TH: I usually try to spend a few hours a few days a week. I get the urgent stuff out of the way first—submissions with deadlines and blog posts. If I am writing something new for a submission, I make sure to give myself at least a couple of weeks to write and revise before the deadline. If I have an idea for poem, sometimes I just have to stop everything else that I’m doing and get it written.
More Trish Hopkinson later in the month. Till then, enjoy this poem – Footnote to a Footnote via the Chagrin River Review.
Bonus question: What is a little known fact about you that will amaze and/or amuse?
TH: I’m a Deadhead. I love the Grateful Dead and used to go to concerts whenever I could before Jerry Garcia died.
Provo, Utah poet Trish Hopkinson contributes to the writing community with her blog where she shares interesting writing tips, articles, calls for submissions (no fee only), and other info to help promote writing and poetry in general. She has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including The Found Poetry Review, Chagrin River Review, and Reconnaissance Magazine. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures online at her website, or Facebook or visit her on Linkedin.
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