Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Irene O'Garden

I first met Irene O'Garden through twitter, where every Wednesday, we both use the hashtag #WriterWednesday, though for different purposes. Irene writes poetry, prose, and plays, and she's a children's book author as well! Irene cares deeply about writing and writers, and I really appreciate that she offers workshops for various age groups. Teacher-writers are some of my favorite writers, after all. I hope you'll check out some of her work after reading this interview!

Who are you? I’m Irene O’Garden. I have spent a lifetime exploring multiple dimensions of creativity. My writing has found its way to the Off-Broadway stage (Women On Fire, Samuel French) into hardcover (Fat Girl, Harper) e-book (Goodbye, Fat Girl; Glad to Be Human, Untreed Reads) children’s books and into literary journals and anthologies. I’ve received awards, fellowships and residencies for my work, including a Pushcart Prize.

I love anything that helps amplify the meaning of words, and so enjoy performing, calligraphy, and book arts, but I also love the visual arts and cooking, too. Gardening has offered a great deal of pleasure, but am doing less of it these days.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met in a hot tub while on vacation? I can be found online at I post weekly there, every Writer Wednesday. I would call it a blog, but I hate the sound of the word. As I wrote in a post on this very subject: to me, Blog sounds nauseating, messy, blobby, foggy, bloppy, muggy, blah blah blah. "Blogger" sounds like jogger, a casual athlete. What about writers who aspire to creating more than a "web-log"? (from whence cometh "blog.") Who believe that every word counts, that every reading eye and listening ear deserves the honey it is seeking? I delayed starting a blog because I hated the word (silly, but there you have it.) I finally cried uncle, but kept wanting a better way to describe my hope for this form. When I realized some of us want to create "web-literature, " a word occurred. I offer "blit" as an alternative to "blog." It comes with friends: bliterature and bliterary. “

So, Hot-tub-ee, I write something very short each week, because none of us has time for more. It’s usually a personal observation or experience, by turns funny, seasonal, poignant-- always with the intention of making my readers glad they stopped by. I always post something visual, most often a photograph I have taken, or piece of calligraphy or art I have made.

I also record my posts, for those who like to listen to them.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I’ve been writing since I was a child. There was hunk of time when I was dedicated to being an actress, but then discovered I had more to say than the roles I was playing. That said, acting is good training for a writer, because it broadens your emotional vocabulary. You are saying all these well-chosen words written by playwrights who care very deeply what is being said.

Then I just continued to write, and send things out.

I was inspired to start blitting because I always thought I’d make a good columnist and wanted to challenge myself with a weekly commitment.

Who inspires you? Too numerous to list, but among the departed, the usual suspects--Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, WB Yeats, Emily Dickinson, Fitzgerald, Basho, Jane Roberts. Among the living, Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne Patchett, Mary Oliver, Laura Shaine Cunningham, Ian McEwan, my husband John Pielmeier

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? I have enjoyed a good deal of travel—I’m always delighted to further explore the South of France and Italy, but am anticipating a journey to Tahiti next year with my travel-loving husband.

A favorite place? I do love our Hudson Valley home, alone or with friends.

Anything else? I believe a writer needs three things: A subject, a deadline and an audience. If no one is offering you these, make them for yourself. Many years ago I took “you create your own reality” as my working hypothesis, along with “you get what you focus on.” Whether these are true or not, they have certainly served me well. And always remember, while writers need their solitude, they also need company of other writers. Thanks for this opportunity!

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