A Peek at the Creative Space of Meg Eden

Meg Eden’s work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, and Gargoyle. She teaches at the University of Maryland. She has four poetry chapbooks, and her novel Post-High School Reality Quest was recently published from California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Lit.
Learn more about Meg Eden by visiting her website or following her on Twitter or Facebook.
 
 


Describe your workspace. 

 

The couch, my bed, a booth at Chick-Fil-A, and sometimes the kitchen table. Sometimes, even my desk! But really, usually the couch with a kitten laying on me 🙂 

 

Describe a typical workday. 

I’m a creative writing instructor by occupation, so I typically start the day making sure I’ve done all my duties for teaching (reading student work, doing lesson plans) and use the evening for writing. I dedicate Thursday, Friday, and Sunday as mainly writing days. I’m trying to do that more as I return to writing novels again, which are a really heavy time investment.

List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful. 

I have to have a mug of Chick-Fil-A tea with me when I write. I’ve learned even a little caffeine goes a long way for me. At my actual desk–the romanticized ideal of my workspace–I have encouraging rejection letters pinned to my bulletin board. I also have a typewriter, which I’ve started using for typing poems when I need to get away from a computer screen. 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.

I usually have to have tea when I write. I have a music album or playlist to help me get into whatever project I’m working on–so I start that up, check email/Facebook/whatever through the first song, then proceed to write. When the album ends, it’s a signal for me to take a break. 

What do you listen to while you work?

Usually video game soundtracks. My favorites are “Faster than Light,” “Puzzlejuice,” “Dear Esther” and “Globulous.”

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working? 

I apologize for this literally being the third time I’ve brought this up, but seriously–Chick-Fil-A unsweet tea is the best thing ever. I have a refill mug from them that I pay 50 cents for unlimited tea–it’s great! I’m known as “that writer who lives at Chick-Fil-A” at this point. I also live off Ghirardelli squares, and Harvest Snaps snapea crisps.  

What keeps you focused while you’re working?

A moment that fascinates me. Something bizarre. Something I need to solve, a puzzle. If I’m bored, I can’t write. I have to find something that excites me to write about. If I’m feeling stumped, I do some googling research. I try to find an image that fascinates me. Also, I find that goals help me: deadlines for contests, breaks in the academic year where I know that’ll be my only time to really make progress–those help me focus too. 

Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?

Computer all the way–I like rearranging things real-time and playing with the page. I also am getting more interested in how I can incorporate images, so my most recent project also has texts, snapchats, Facebook pages, graphs and more. I sometimes write poems longhand and with the typewriter –mainly if I need to unwind and get away from a computer. But I can’t do fiction without the computer. In high school I wrote out a novel in a notebook by hand–probably more for the romantic idea of it–but it worked. It made me not jump around. Now I have to jump around 🙂

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

I can’t do any prep work or I get bored–I have to wing it. I have to discover it as it happens. I sometimes do some vague outlining. I really love using headers and table of contents in Microsoft Word, so I can get a visual sense of the structure of my novel, and jump between scenes. On my current novel project, a mixed media YA retelling of an abusive relationship, where there are so many different objects and texts and things, this has been particularly necessary.

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be? 

This question is hard! I grew up an only child so the first few times I read this I cringed: Ugh! Sharing! But seriously, if I could share it with pretty much any other writer, I’d be stoked. I’ve found that some “rubber duck debugging” (as in, talking out a problem to find the solution) has become a really important part of my writing process.

 

 
Right now, I share an office with my husband, which is the best thing ever, because when I’m stuck we can talk out what’s happening in my novel and he gives me ideas. He also tells me to stop complaining and just keep writing. He’s pretty much the perfect writing cheerleader 🙂

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

 Write first, edit only after you’ve finished a draft. This current novel project has been really emotionally challenging for me, and I’ve wanted to give up/edit everything/throw my computer in a fire, but I know nothing will happen if I never get to an end of the draft. So I keep writing.

 

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