Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Women on Writing : Heather A. Mattern (and a giveaway!)

I am so excited to have the brilliant and beautiful Heather A. Mattern here today to celebrate National Poetry Month with me. Heather is a blogger, author, speaker, mother, AND poet. Her collection of poems, The Grey Muse, releases April 19 and, in addition to sharing her writing wisdom here, she is also giving away one advanced copy of her work! Read through the post to find out how to enter. And to check out the rest of the posts in the Women on Writing series, click here

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When did you know you wanted to create a collection of poems? What was your inspiration for The Grey Muse? 

Mmm! I've wanted to put together a poetry collection ever since I fell in love with those gorgeous messy lines as a middle schooler. It just wasn't in the cards. Each time I would try, something stopped me. I now feel as though The Grey Muse was always supposed to be my beginning. 

The idea for this particular book of poems came last year as I was sitting with a group of women listening to Kate Inglis share about writing. She gave us a list of prompts to choose from, the one I picked was, "Oh darling, such a puzzle I know but let me tell you a secret" and as I let my intuition guide the words, I couldn't stop crying. We each read our writing aloud and once again I wept. And not the pretty tears -- the sobbing, barely catching my breath kind of crying. I knew then, that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Scribbling love notes from me to me, from my old woman to who I am in this moment.

How did the process of writing these poems, as love notes from your old woman, change the way you see yourself, both present and future?

Writing these poems healed me. In so many ways. In the beginning, as I was fleshing out the first draft, I attempted to write daily. I am NOT a morning person. I would sit on the couch wishing I could just go back to bed and thinking of all the things I needed to get done, I'd grab my pen and let her, the grey muse, whisper to me in my morning pages. She wasn't worried about the laundry or the errands, she was focused more on hugging the kids because they aren't kids for very long. She helped me learn what being present meant. And those whispers later became these poems. Many mornings as I sat scribbling down rough drafts of her love notes, my frustration and exhaustion turned into joy and smiles.

There were other things that started happening too. I began thinking of her. Dreaming of her. I could picture what she looked like and this helped me discover more about myself. The style of clothing I love. My old woman wasn't wearing the hippie layers that I'd tried so hard to fit myself into, because they are freaking adorable! No. She was wearing cow girl boots, long skirts and blue jeans. For the first time in a very long time, I started stepping into a style all my own that finally felt right.

Photo by Jennifer Upton
What would be your ideal writing environment? How do you make space and time in your life for the practice of writing?

Oh boy, an ideal writing environment would be at my house with a glass of wine and kids sleeping. I love coffee shops but I tend to people watch and get distracted, which is why home is favored. I also prefer writing at night, theres just something about it. I like to think it's the moon. She's got magical powers and inspires me. 

Writing and having three kids home at all times (we homeschool) is difficult. For a long time, there was guilt surrounding this dream of mine. I've discovered I'm not happy unless I make space for the words. I get up with my husband in the mornings and have a ritual, what Julia Cameron calls morning pages.  It's a practice of rambling on about nothing in particular for three pages. For me, this wakes up my mind and soul. 

I've learned to steal moments. When the kids are outside playing or when the hubby is out at night with friends, instead of watching television I write. 

How does your poetry writing practice differ, if at all, from that for your prose? Do you notice any difference in rituals, environment, or mindset with each? 

Writing poetry definitely feels more raw than when I'm writing fiction. I feel my heart is exposed. I feel naked.  Poetry is also scary for me because though I write prose on a blog, there seems to be more "fill in the spaces" things whereas poetry gets right to the point. I don't talk too much about my marriage struggles, depression, or anxiety in my prose but when the grey muse spoke to me, she spoke into these dark places, which although healing, is scary to release into the world.

Oh and for me, poetry is much more fun to edit than prose. :)

What authors or works most inspire your writing?

Hafiz keeps me coming back to poetry. Even the style of The Grey Muse was inspired by him.

For a while, I was too scared and thought I'd just stick with fictional stories but Hafiz's poetry kept bringing me back, almost as if saying, "I'm not going to let you forget what you are really supposed to be doing."

If you could give one piece of advice to budding writers, what would it be?

Write! If you have a dream, don't push it aside -- fill in the empty spaces with writing. Whether that be when the baby naps or when the kids are watching Frozen for the umpteenth time :)

If you really really want it -- you WILL do what it takes to make it happen. XO

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Heather A. Mattern is a writer, speaker, blogger, and poet from North Carolina. Her writing has been featured in Natural Life magazine and The Garner-Cleveland Record. Her words reflect the raw naked bits of her chaotic yet beautiful life as she juggles homeschooling three children, a writing career, and a romance with her high school sweetheart.

You can read more of her ramblings on her blog www.soulskinsong.com

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For the chance to win a copy of The Grey Muse, leave a comment sharing a dream that won't let you go, then register below (open to US residents only). We'll announce a winner on Friday!
*Giveaway now closed. Congratulations to Hannah!*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

21 comments :

  1. I dream of creating + performing slam poetry. Eventually, I would love to teach poetry!

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    1. That sounds amazing. Slam poetry is so inspiring to me.

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  2. Wow. This is so beautiful. I cannot wait to get this book! Thank you!

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  3. I dream of turning my manuscript into a real published book that turns into a one woman show.

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  4. My dream is to write my memoir. It seems that my writing keeps coming back to this. I even have a couple of poems that tell about things in my childhood. I also have a dream of putting my other poems together in a book.

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    1. Thanks for visiting and sharing your dreams, Gayl!

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  5. I probably have at least 100 dreams. But my dream pertaining to my present moment is to make, everyone believe they can become a poet, (and wish to.) Wish me luck. Congrats on your book! I am a homeschool mom of three, too!

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    1. I love your dream, Jamie. I need a piece of that in my own life.

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  6. Windex had a commercial years ago that depicted a couple sharing my much despised chore of window washing. In this scene, the couple went about- one on either side of a patio door- cleaning the glass with joy in their smiles. They made it look like fun. I don't believe either one really liked cleaning glass... who does?!... but, they loved each other enough to share this onus task so as to lighten the burden. I was divorced at the time and that commercial gave me hope. I called it my Windex Dream. Time has past and I have since married. Unfortunately, my husband is NOT the Windex man. My expectation of him no longer include him helping me share household task. However, I still have the hunger in my heart to have THAT particular dream come true. I want that type of partnership with one who cares enough to help make my dreams a reality--even if it is as simple as sharing the tedious task of cleaning windows. Daily I struggle with the question-- do I give up my dream?-- give up on him? But somehow I still have that glimmer of hope.... maybe, just maybe one day he will understand how important it is to me. My older self reminds me that it is a small thing in the big picture and not to make a big deal out of it.... however, my passionate I- want-it-all-self keeps that fire alive. I will not stop believing that I deserve that much.

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    1. Your dream is simply beautiful, Carol. I so hope you get to see it come true soon.

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  7. My art journals want to see the light of day. I haven't looked into how publishing works but maybe it's time to find out.

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    1. Ah! So many wonderful dreams here! I would love a peek into your art journals.

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  8. Heather, this is amazing. I've been secretly dreaming of someday maybe publishing poetry, too.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your poetry dream Hannah! I believe in you.

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  9. i dream of gazing down into their eyes as i rock them to sleep; holding my miracle baby. thank you for this chance to win! i am a huge heather fan! :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Erica. Here's to hoping you see your precious dream come true. <3

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  10. (i'm back to try to remember what my comment said the first time ;)

    my dream is to curate a space for spiritual exploration via words, the arts, community.... that "space" has looked like anything from a blog to an online or in-person group, a book to a retreat center in my dreamings. :) it's been reverberating in me for 4 years, throughout a dozen internal transitions... <3

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    1. This dream! I so want to see it come true!

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  11. this book. this book I'm writing, no matter how scared I get, it refuses to let go of me. this idea of writing my own fiction book has been in my soul since I was nine. I'm doing it now.

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    1. Go Rachel! So wonderful that you are living your dream.

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