November 30, 2007
Friends On Friday Presents ~ CHERYL SNELL
Well, yesterday was a bit of an emotional challenge for me, but thankfully I made it through with flying colors!! Speaking of flying colors, today's guest writes with such imagery and follow-through that it reminds me of flying colors. Earlier this week, we shared in her piece Stone. Strong yet almost light and fragrant.
As I said earlier, just what one needs to unleash the mind's constraints. Funny how life has a way of putting what you say to the test. I went home and read through Cheryl's work again, and it broke me down. Her works are about life, which is not typically pretty or poetic. But skillful use of syntactic arrangement can take the most obtuse aspects of our world and still manage to bring the mind to a place of reconciliation, SO Thank You again Cheryl, today your work was not only thoughtful and the focus of "Friends On Friday" it became my pacifier! Exactly what good work should do! NOW, onto our chat with Cheryl!
Cheryl, Your work is both provocative and characterized with words that emote realism. What I find most amazing about your work is that you can go from writing poetry to stories seemingly effortlessly. Can you please share with us are you able to write consistently, or do you go though phases where you prefer to write one and then the other.
Thank you for the compliment! I try to put real toads in my imaginary gardens.
I do genre-hop, slowly. I’ll work for a long time on several poems, for instance, revising and shaping them until I’m empty of ideas. Then I switch to prose, and write until my concentration frays. Fiction demands a particular type of attention. There’s a sense of urgency to get the story told. Poetry feeds fiction, gives the language color and character.
You are also musically inclined. What does music mean to you? Which of your crafts are most important, or are they like children -- there are no choices, you love aspects of them all equally.
I begin every day by playing Bach at the piano. There's something about his nuances of harmony that transcend the ego and ground me at the same time. And then I read until my head is full of language. Music and writing have so many elements in common-- line and dynamics and rhythm---that it’s difficult to assign value. I’m immersed in all of it, and the process of mastering a piece of music is not unlike getting a piece of writing right. When at last I set whatever it is aside-- for days, weeks, or months-- the work continues underground. I’m always amazed at the way a switch of focus can untangle a particular difficulty.
What inspires you? What do you do when you get blocked, if you get blocked and if you do get blocked -- what was the longest period you were stricken?
I live in Washington DC, a culturally rich city where sources of inspiration are plentiful. I like old music and new art. I’ve written many poems based on my sister’s paintings. My husband, a mathematical engineer, communicates a reverence for how things work that is very inspiring. He’s also a great raconteur. His stories about growing up in India have filled my novel, Shiva’s Arms.
I don’t get blocked, partly because I’m willing to “kill my darlings”. At times, I’ll revise a work until there are only a few of the original words left in it. Ned Rorem, the composer and writer, revises everything, too. If he’s reading a book by Henry James, for instance, he “puts blue pencil in the margin…may circle a "perhaps": There are too many perhapses in this book. I'm a walking blue pencil.”
I really like the computer for revision, the ease with which phrases can be moved around, sparking new ideas. A sense of play is important. It leads to fresh connections, new ways of looking at the world. These endless possibilities can lead to other problems, of course. Ralph Ellison couldn’t finish his second novel, and it grew to thousands of pages.
Are you an artist as a way of life or must you hold a day job as well?
After years of teaching and performing, I am free to follow my bliss.
Thank You So Much Cheryl!!!! Cheryl is also culinary, her recipes will be published as an add-on to the novel, Shiva's Arms.
Cheryl's Publisher's Link
Also please visit the Snell Sisters here FOR GREAT INSPIRATION