Sunday, September 4, 2011

Author Insides - Robin Merrill

Robin Merrill is a freelance writer, performance poet and editor hailing from Maine. Her work has appeared in hundreds of publications in print and online and has been featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She has an MFA from Stonecoast and a bachelor's of science degree from Maine Maritime Academy. Her piece, "Happy Twenty-Ten," appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of The Battered Suitcase.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was in the third grade, I handwrote a thirty-something page story about meeting Amy Grant. Drove my teacher nuts.

Why do you write?
I stole this from Lucille Clifton, but it’s true: I can’t not write.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?
I think so. Or maybe I don’t remember what I imagined it would be like. Or maybe I’m still imagining.

What do you think makes a good story?
Characters I can fall in love with. And I like to laugh. And I like to cry too.

What's your favorite genre to read?
Memoir. But I really love to read everything.

Who is your favorite author or poet?
My favorite author is probably Richard Adams. My favorite poet is probably Robert Cording. But I also love love love Tim O’Brien, Brian Turner, Garrison Keillor, Mark Doty, David Sedaris, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Lucille Clifton, Betsy Sholl, C.S. Lewis, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King when he’s not being too disgusting, and Garret Keizer.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, poetry by Ann Sexton, poetry by Emily Dickenson.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?
“Love (3)” by George Herbert. I know it’s almost cliché to say, but I am certainly influenced by the Bible.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired. Usually I’m trying to fall asleep and can’t and I’ll think of something I should write down. I am always inspired by nature, but I also always fail to write about it well, so no one ever sees the products of those inspirations.

What does your family think of your writing?
Oh wow, you’re going to publish this on the World Wide Web, right? Then I should probably just plead The Fifth. Let’s just say they’re not thrilled.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I write all the time. Constantly. In between dodging flying sippy cups and cleaning up puppy pee. I am most productive at night, and Saturdays are all mine baby!

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?
I don’t think so. I like to eat m&m’s. Oh wait, I have one better than that. Yes, I like to smell lemongrass essential oil while I write. I have no idea why. It makes me smarter, I think.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes. Getting published. Also, I am horrifically honest in my writing. I am a flawed and tragic person, and that comes through in my writing and I am often told (particularly in memoir) that my protagonist isn’t likable. I’m like, “of course not, she’s human.” So I guess I find it difficult to make my characters real people and also make them likable.

What are your current projects?
I am working on a novel, and I write lots and lots of articles and blogs for other people. I write a lot about hotels in Marquette, Michigan. I’m also a regular contributor to everydog Magazine. I’m also an editor for Nations Magazine.

What are you planning for future projects?
I don’t really have a plan.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
I am not qualified to give advice to anyone. But if I could advise myself ten years ago, I would tell her to stop trying to impress everyone, because everyone is too busy trying to impress everyone else to worry about whether or not they are impressed by her.

Where can we find your work?
Well I am an Internet junkie, so I would love it if people would visit me on Facebook, Twitter, and at my website http://www.robinmerrill.com/. I also have a mommy blog. I also love Tumblr.