Welcome to another of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with poet Linda Eve Diamond. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Linda.
Linda: Hi Morgen. First, thanks so much for the interview and for sharing my poetry on your wonderful Website!
Morgen: You are very welcome, Linda. Thank you for providing it and for being here today. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Linda: My writing began in the technical writing field over 20 years ago, but how that came about is too long to tell here. At the time, though, I never imagined even attempting any sort of creative writing. Even when an idea or little turn of phrase came to me that made me want to try, I’d ignore it because I felt I didn’t know what to do with it or how to write a poem. After a while, I just started writing these things down anyway… and there it was… and I couldn’t stop. My newest book, The Beauty of Listening, is my second poetry collection.
Morgen: It’s interesting you went the non-fiction route first. To-date the only non-fiction I’ve written is about writing but I’m thinking of writing articles about other topics. Do you write poetry to form or as it comes?
Linda: Mostly I’ll write poetry as it comes, though sometimes different forms intrigue me and I’ll play around with them. In the new book, I play a lot with concrete poetry, a form that builds shapes with the words. My favourite is a little poem I wrote for my husband, Jeff, just before our wedding called The Rings, which wraps two lines of poetry into circles, side by side.
Morgen: That sounds delightful. Do you generally write rhyming or free verse?
Linda: Most of my poetry is free verse, but you’ll also find a rhyme from time to time.
Morgen: Being a (pretty much) non-poet, I do think writing rhyme is harder. You mentioned two collections of poetry, what have you had published to-date?
Linda: I’ve written eleven books in the areas of business, education, self-help and poetry. A few of the titles are Rule #1: Stop Talking: A Guide to Listening, E-Z Spelling, a spelling book for Barron’s Educational Series, and books for McGraw-Hill’s Perfect Phrases series, from Perfect Phrases for Writing Business Announcements to Perfect Phrases for Sales Presentations. Of course, even the “perfect phrase” books emphasize listening. My two poetry books are The Human Experience, which was one of my earliest books back in 2007, and The Beauty of Listening, which was just published in June 2013.
Morgen: A new baby. 🙂 Do you write under a pseudonym?
Linda: I’ve always written under my own name. My husband, Jeff, and I were married in 2011 and I decided to take his name, but I still continue to write under my maiden name, which is Diamond. Oddly enough, this change in legal name makes Diamond into sort of a pseudonym. So, I’ve always been and will continue to be a Diamond in my writing life, but now in “real life” I’m a Novick, too.
Morgen: 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process?
Linda: I think most of my books are available as ebooks, but I haven’t been very involved with that part of the process. Moving forward, I’ll be more involved with this. I’m in the process now of looking into making The Beauty of Listening available as an ebook.
Morgen: It’s not as hard as people think (I have tips on http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/ebooks/how-to-create-an-ebook). Do you have a favourite of your poems or topic to write about?
Linda: Listening is a theme I enjoy, and it encompasses a great deal—from inner listening to language and modes of communication—to the perceptions, distractions and influences that interfere with listening. My first book was a fun, self-help guide to listening skills improvement and I also created a Website back in 2005 called http://ListenersUnite.com. The new book is very exciting for me because it brings together listening-related themes and poetry—two of my great passions. So, I can’t think of a favourite poem offhand, but entire collection, The Beauty of Listening, is very close to my heart.
Morgen: Listening to others and people watching are two of the best ways for inspiration. I walk my dog two or three items a day and am forever making notes. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Linda: At the moment, I’m working on recording some of the poems from the new book. Next, I’ll be looking into two new directions. One is children’s books, and I have a few written that I’d like to see illustrated and published. The first of these will be fun, little stories with listening lessons for kids. The other new direction is photographs. The Beauty of Listening included just a few black and white photos, but the project inspired me to go through my photos with an eye toward a full-colour publication of photographs.
Morgen: As a photographer’s daughter / niece, I love photography. Why do you think poetry is such a difficult market to break into?
Linda: Poetry is so subjective. I once heard a poet, who was the current poet laureate of the US at the time, tell about a rejection he’d just received from a poetry editor who somehow didn’t recognize the poet’s name. The editor wrote something on the rejection slip like: “Good effort” or “Keep trying.”
Morgen: I love that. Apparently horror writer Dean Koontz received 500 rejections before his first published novel so that’s determination, which we really have to have, don’t we. You’ve written non-fiction in the past, do you write any prose fiction or short stories?
Linda: I do a little but haven’t done anything with them yet. I’ve posted one little story online on my poetry page called I and You. It’s a story told in third person about two characters named I and You. Again, the theme is listening. I do have some more traditional stories, too. One day I’ll start putting them together.
Morgen: Short stories are a great format for eBooks. Do you do a lot of editing of your poems or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Linda: Some poems pop out fully-formed while others take a little tweaking and some really take a lot of work. Time, though, never seems to move me forward toward producing more fully-formed poems. It’s a totally mixed bag from day to day. And, of course, I’ll always look back at even the most “finished” poems and want to tweak them.
Morgen: I don’t think we ever stop, especially if there’s a passage in time between looking. Do you have to do much research?
Linda: Sometimes. It depends on the topic. One poem in The Beauty of Listening called The Ordinary Life of Amazing led me to look into words that had become obsolete, which led me to enjoying some 1929 slang, which then became a new poem, A Swell Time in 1929. Whatever the topic, I always enjoy it when a poem leads me to learning new things.
Morgen: As the readers often do, I’m sure. What advice would you give aspiring poets?
Linda: Keep writing and try not to be discouraged by the inevitable challenges you’ll face when you send out your writing. Rejection slips, for instance, are part of the process, and not everything can or will be loved by everyone. Remember, too, that even if an editor loves your submission, things go into the decision making process that may be beyond the overall quality of a poem. After all, the number of poems received by an editor at a given time is astounding—and so is the number of rejections received by great writers. Keeping all of this in mind, you’ll probably feel sad just the same when rejection comes, and that’s okay. You may toughen up to some degree, as people will say you should, but if you could be tough enough to withstand rejection of something so dear to you without flinching, you probably wouldn’t have had the sensitivity to write it in the first place. So, listen, learn, flinch, cry, know that you’re not alone in any of this, and keep writing.
Morgen: It’s just about finding the right person for the right thing. I had a reviewer on Goodreads love and hate my work (in that order then vowed never to read anything else by me). 🙂 If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Linda: Wislawa Szymborska, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Theodor Geisel. Hmm… Would translators be included in the rule of three? If so, I’d just learn Polish and French for the occasion. As for dinner, I’d find out their favourite dishes and get them from all the best places. When I throw a fantasy dinner party, I like each of my fantasy guests to each have the most fantastic dinner imaginable!
Morgen: I think it’s safe to say you’d understand each other. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Linda: I think we’ve already stepped into a world of unprecedented opportunities and challenges for writers. On-demand self-publishing has opened up the writing world to those who wouldn’t have had a chance to publish before, which is wonderful. At the same time, rating and review systems, which were supposed to make it easier for readers to find new books they might enjoy, are quickly losing trust and reliability, which reduces them to being almost of no help at all. Writers also have new issues with publishing rights that cut into royalty payments and an increasingly competitive publishing climate. Many innovative writers are now creating in new lengths and forms just to try to sustain the writing life. Through it all, more than ever before, writers have to invest writing-related time that’s not writing at all, which takes both time and energy that once went toward the writing process.
Where will it all lead? I don’t know, but these are interesting times… and, however things unfold, writers will always be inspired to tell and retell the story in new ways. In the end, whatever the future holds for a writer, it will be something interesting to write about—and, whatever the challenges may be, writers will always be writing.
Morgen: I certainly will. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Linda: My website, http://LindaEveDiamond.com. Anyone interested in keeping posted on new poetry posts, audios and videos can keep in touch on Facebook (http://Facebook.com/LindaEveDiamondInk) and Twitter (http://Twitter.com/LindaEveDiamond) or visit my Website (http://LindaEveDiamond.com) for the link to join my free monthly newsletter for updates.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Linda: I watch you in amazement and am certain that you have some great secret for balancing writing, Website, social and marketing time. So… What’s the secret?
Morgen: <laughs> Passion. It’s really just about passion. I live and breathe writing having ‘discovered’ it at a creative writing class January 2005 and gave up my day job in March 2012. I’ve rented out two bedrooms in my house and savings have almost gone but I don’t regret it for a second. I start teaching (eight creating writing course) locally from next January so I really will be living the dream.
Linda: Thank you, Morgen! 🙂
Morgen: You’re so welcome, Linda. It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about you.
I then invited Linda to include one of her poems…
We’re losing language
word by wrd, syllable by slbl.
Soon we’ll cre8 a class in skool
of New World Spelling
(nw O splg).
Spelling will be taught
in History class (hst clss)
with the arts
and civil discourse.
Words in their full splendor
are luxuries now. No time
for so many syllables
or every little vowel.
Time is growing short
for lexical complexities,
Just give me the Re.
No time for lunch.
Toss me a sound bite.
The richness of language
will be for the elite.
Who else could afford
the frivolous extravagance
of reading, writing or listening
to so many sprawling words?
And a synopsis of her collection:
The Beauty of Listening is a collection of poems with a listening theme–from inner listening to deep, intimate listening and the “modern art of conversation.” The book is a journey that begins with a poem called The Beginning and ends with The End, with a little place for us to meet in The Middle (and even share a little a riddle). Beyond the beauty of listening, these poems explore the nature of listening and some of the reasons listening isn’t always as simple as it seems.
Linda Eve Diamond is an author of poetry, educational, business and self-help books. Her Website is http://LindaEveDiamond.com.
Her new book is The Beauty of Listening. http://www.lindaevediamond.com/Books/Beauty_of_Listening
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