Jane Marshall Fleming does a little of everything. Collage artists, PhD student, and published author, Jane likes to push the boundaries of her art, finding the hidden truth in her real life experiences. As a poet and creative nonfiction author, Jane has published one book already, and has a second out for pre-order with the indie publisher, Rhythm & Bones.
I sat down with Jane for a brief chat over Twitter to discuss her work and her writing process.
What genre do you usually write in? Why? Do you also primarily read in that genre? If not, then what genre do you usually read?
I usually write in a mix of poetry and creative nonfiction lyric essays, but when I first started writing, I considered myself a poet exclusively. I read a ton of each-- especially creative nonfiction. You can pretty much always find me in the middle of an essay collection or a memoir.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Maybe it is not surprising, but my writing is primarily confessional. I pull from scenes, sights, and emotions that I experience in my life. My forthcoming book, for instance, focuses traumas that I have experienced and all of the myriad moments of joy and sorrow and chaos that have been contained in the fallout from those traumas and my own healing journey. I am also interested in the coherence or incoherence of memory and playing with written language to mimic the way that we experience memory. I am a huge fan of Anne Lamott’s “one-inch picture frame” theory of writing. That is, starting with “everything you can see through a one-inch picture frame;” the colors, textures, etc. of a small, easily digestible scene and moving from there.
Tell us about your writing process? Where do you write? How often do you write? Do you listen to music? Etc?
Oof. I both love and hate to talk about my creative process because it is much more erratic than what a lot of folks think a disciplined author should behave like. One of the most freeing lines about process I have ever read came from Jenny Boully’s collection, Betwixt and Between: Essays on the Writing Life (2018), in which she describes waiting to come to that “sacred place” in which the conditions for writing are right. That is, a cyclical writing process wherein the writer might work tirelessly for several months and then produce almost nothing for several months. That describes my process to a T. When the conditions are right, I become obsessive. I produce poem after poem, essay after essay, and collage after collage with little break. When I am finished, I rest. Until I found Boully’s collection, those times of rest used to make me anxious-- I used to believe that I was not disciplined enough to be a true writer because I was not sitting down to write every day or even every week, but this freed me to be kinder to myself. I have since been able to recognize that these are just my natural processes and that I produce better work when I honor those processes than when I try to force myself into cycles that are artificial.
Now, to answer the question of what my process looks like when I am in that “sacred place”: I do listen to music. I love listening to Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Slothrust, and Hop Along, although that changes depending on what I am working on. For more Lo-Fi concentration stuff, I also listen to a lot of Tycho. Now-a-days, I usually write in the office/studio in my husband and I’s apartment. I like having white noise on in the background while I write so, as silly as it may sound, I also often write in the living room with some sort of procedural (like Law & Order) on in the background. I also like to mix different creative processes. When I get stuck on something with my writing, I will often stop and paint or collage and vice versa.
Who is your favorite author?
This changes often. I am constantly reading, so it’s hard to keep my favorite author pinned down. Right now my favorite author is definitely Maggie Nelson. Her book, The Argonauts (2015), was like fuel to my flame when I started writing my first full-length collection.
What are your writing goals for this year?
Besides promoting my new book, I am really hoping to start working on my next project. If you asked me what that project was going to be a few months ago, I think I would have been able to tell you what that project is going to be, but now I am not so sure. I am just hoping to work on getting to that “sacred space” again here soon and really get into the weeds of a new project.
Where can we find your writing?
Great question! My first full-length collection, Violence/Joy/Chaos, is now available for preorder from Rhythm & Bones Press. You can also always find my writing (including individual publications and my chapbook), interviews, blogs, art, and a schedule of upcoming events on my website, lunaspeaksblog.com. Additionally, I am on Twitter and Instagram at @queenjaneapx.