“It’s very difficult for me to write a “happy” poem.”
Coffin Bell: Introduce yourself / short bio / photo.
M. Stone: I’m a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry and fiction while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
CB: What got you started writing?
MS: I started writing stories and poems soon after I learned to read, so at this point, over 30 years later, it’s almost as natural as breathing. Not as easy, but as natural.
CB: What is the most rewarding aspect of writing?
MS: To be honest, the finished piece! For me, writing poetry and fiction is work. I go through numerous drafts for each piece I write. Once I’m satisfied with the finished product and I feel I’m ready to share it with others, I find that a very rewarding experience.
CB: Do you have a designated space for writing? Tell us about it.
MS: I will write anywhere possible after an idea strikes and I’m able to get my hands on a pen and piece of paper. I have a favorite chair for reading, and it tends to be my favorite chair for revising my writing.
CB: Are you a planner or a pantser? Tell us a bit about your writing practices.
MS: Total pantser. I’m not someone who makes an effort to write every day when I don’t feel like it. I have to wait for inspiration to strike, or for a line of poetry to take form in my mind and grab my attention. Fortunately, many things inspire me, so I’m rarely out of ideas.
CB: What advice to new and emerging writers could you give?
MS: Don’t struggle for perfection. There really is no such thing. If you try to wait until a piece is “perfect,” you’ll never let it go, and others will miss out on your writing. Also, read A LOT. If you feel like you have writer’s block, read. If you’re feeling particularly creative, also read.
CB: Who are your influences?
MS: Reading Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” when I was a kid encouraged me to start writing poetry. Today, just a few of the many poets who inspire me are Anna Swir, Louise Glück, Sandra Cisneros, Mary Ruefle, Franz Wright, Lorine Niedecker, Theodore Roethke, and William Stafford. For fiction, I’m a huge fan of Gillian Flynn.
CB: Physical books or e-readers?
MS: Both, actually! I tend to read poetry exclusively via physical books, but I like to read fiction on an e-reader. It’s nice to have an entire digital library included on one device.
CB: If you could give a PSA to journal editors, what would it be?
MS: Be active on social media. Twitter in particular has an amazing poetry and fiction writing community. It really helps to get involved in the discussion there, to let readers and writers know about your journal, and to keep in touch with your contributors via social media. I have discovered some fantastic fledgling presses that caught my attention because the editors are active in promoting the journal and the work it features.
CB: Taphophobia is the fear of being buried alive. Tell us about your fears.
MS: I think I most fear the abyss. I love astronomy and learning about the universe, but the vastness of space, its almost-emptiness, is a terrifying concept to me. It’s the same with the depths of the ocean. Imagining the darkness miles below the surface makes me shiver.
CB: What draws you to dark fiction?
MS: Probably morbid curiosity about the dark side of human nature.
CB: How does the darkness in your piece enhance the work?
MS: It’s very difficult for me to write a “happy” poem. Happy poems are great, but I’m not good at writing them. I think darkness in poetry can be cathartic. In a lot of instances for me personally, it makes the poems I write more authentic.
CB: Tell us about your book / publication / web site / promotion.
MS: I write a lot of poems. You can read those that have been published via my web site at writermstone.wordpress.com .
Read M. Stone’s “Gut Instinct” in Issue 1.1 of Coffin Bell Journal!