Do you remember when I interviewed Scott Laudati last week? Well, he had some questions for me as well....
SL: Congratulations on having your first book published! What are your thoughts on the experience so far?
RMMW: Thank you so much! It certainly is a different experience than self publishing. Being published through (KUBOA) afforded me the opportunity to not focus on any of the minutia that goes into the publishing process: cut sizes, proofs, formatting, design anything and every other thing that you would have to do for yourself via CreateSpace. And if that wasn't a bonus as is, to be part of a place like (KUBOA) a non profit publishing house that wants to produce high quality books -- both in content and the exterior. If you don't believe me take a look at the Cockroach Blueprint, cover designed by Pablo D'Stair. (I still get butterflies when I look at it!) I relish everything about being there and am proud by the mandate they constantly follow to produce exceptional artifacts.
SL: What was the inspiration behind Cockroach Blueprint? Why cockroaches and not something else everyone hates? Like mosquitoes?
RMMW: Someone close to me was really struggling in their personal & professional life -- it was to the point where every week brought with it something more terrible than the next. Without getting into the details – I knew, like I did with my clients while I was still a Social Service Worker that I needed to do something to help them feel better. So I came up with the Cockroach Blueprint, I figured by the time we reached 1, 000,001 ways to kill a cockroach that this person would start to feel better and no longer need the list. (That is what time does to us – not only does it afford us opportunities to forget the awful tragedies that surround us but; also provides an opportunity to heal through a safe cathartic release)
Now, as for how or why I selected cockroach. One day, while I was working my children were watching Monsters vs Aliens in the background – I thought that literally survived by anything cockroach was quite adorable – that is what triggered the use of cockroaches as opposed to anything equally ugly or frightening.
SL: How long did the book take you to write? Did you have a routine?
RMMW: From beginning to end, I would say it took about a month to complete. I did not have a routine really, I would just let my inspiration take me where ever it wanted to so each day the number of methodologies completed were completely different than the day before. And bit by bit it wrote itself.
SL: We first met while you were writing for the Punk Archive. You're also a Palestinian refugee. Do you think these two things are intertwined? Is there a natural rebellion in your blood? Does that help writing?
RMMW: Sigh! The Punk Archive, I'd thought, I'd died and gone to heaven when I was given a chapbook of all things to review! ONLY IN THE PUNK WORLD!!!
Yes, Palestinian refugee from Lebanon...
Let me tell you a little story – when I was 13 or 14 I can't really remember the exact age now. I had this three drawer Formica table that I no longer wanted in my bed room. I asked for help to move this desk downstairs but everyone in the house refused to help me – so I did the only thing I could. I went to get my father's tools from the basement and took the table apart piece by piece until I was able to safely carry small bundles out to curb for garbage collection. I've always been the one that gets criticized for being riddled with opinionated truth – especially when it means fighting for the rights of others. So I guess, there is a little bit of natural rebellion in my blood – ok, more than a little. The funniest aspect of this story is that I am also a descendant of the Levi tribe – my people were the temple keepers and builders at times there is a constant contradiction within my being as well.
SL: You obviously care about music a lot. In a world where no one reads and no one pays for music what do you think keeps us going?
RMMW: I have no idea where I would be without music – I started singing at a young age and was about to take my grade 5/6 voice exam around the time I married however, ended up quitting. Music is essential to the well being of not only the mind but also the body – it allows for mental motion and movement to genuinely contemplate what that specific music conveys to it's listeners -- which can in turn influence the creativity in those around you.
It is hard to make a living being an artist in this day and age – there is so much free content on a global scale that it becomes nearly impossible to earn a living doing anything in the arts. Sad but true! Most Artists have 4 or 5 side jobs. Nevertheless, I think what keeps us indies together is support – we may not be able to afford to buy a bunch of books or music but we can promote one another – giving all of us a unanimous voice that we are in support of each other.
RMMW: I've always been extremely vocal through my writing – being a mother has made me even more so – having to constantly set an example for my kids. I try to separate myself from the mother role when I write the majority of the time (remember the word 'try'? Yeah, well I am not so good at that) it bleeds into everything.
I've heard many individuals argue with me – tell me that not every subject can be translated into a poem – well guess what? It bloody well can – I can think of a single subject from the extremely uncomfortable to writing about topics that fill us with extreme joy. Either way anything can be a poem – that is how I feel about being a poet I do not have to slice myself in half or divide – I can be a poet and a mama too.
SL: I would say, judging by the last three interviews on your blog, you're in a boys club. I find when I'm submitting I'm starting to come across a lot of sites that say things like "we've heard enough from white males". etc. What are your thoughts? Is there a gender gap in publishing?
RMMW: Lol, had you waited a couple more weeks it would not be the case. I have a few female interviews lined up for CCC. I do not want CCC to be a place that is solely saturated with one culture or gender where the same experience and poetry repeats itself. Which is why it is important to me to have a nice balance of men and women from various walks of life housed within much experience. I feel like with many aspects of our society there will always be a gender gap present regardless of how far into the future we move. Women have had to fight harder and are still for certain mantles simply because they are women.
SL: You've been blogging regularly for a long time. Has this helped with promote your book/writing? What advice would you give other writers?
RMMW: Yes, I've been blogging regularly for almost 2 years, One would think that daily blogging would translate into more sales but sometimes; well, the majority of the time it doesn't. I've contemplated many times closing my blog and forgetting about writing all together. It is not easy trying to make a living as a writer – especially as a poet – one of the most obscure genres out there. I would tell writers be prepared to suffer for your art.
SL: I find I spend 99% of my writing time updating Instagram. How do you deal with this need to self-promote and simultaneously write?
RMMW: I would say, I post once a day on Instagram – the rest of the time I focus on my writing – how much time am I going to spend promoting my book when I at times get little to no likes on a poem I busted my ass for. It gets quite discouraging – I try and focus on the writing aspect the majority of the time. If people are going to enjoy what I write great, if not it is of no consequence as i write for myself the majority of the time.
SL: Do you think the world we live in is a simulation being studied and manipulated by scientists from the future?
RMMW: You know, this is a good let your mind wander question. Hmmm if I say yes I sound like an insane person and if I say no and just brush it off I am closed minded. We could always argue for either side – class clown or devils advocate! Either way it would be nice to comprehend the true meaning of life and why things happen the way that they do. It was best described to me as a giant pretzel so we can either grab the mustard or the pen and create.