Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I’m welcoming Gareth to the tearoom. Welcome. Can I order you a drink?
Thank you for asking me to join you, Paula 🙂 A black coffee with two sugars, please.
Now our drinks have arrived may I start by asking you did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Well, that’s an interesting question! I was originally Gareth Davies and then I married a Writer and we joined our names together. Neither of us were writers at the time (she still isn’t) and after we separated, I wanted to keep the name as it was my daughter’s names, only then did I start writing! I’ve had it mispronounced so many times at gigs (as Winter, Reuter etc) as people can’t quite believe that is my real name, but it is! I asked some big-name poets if I should change it and they said No, as at least it’s memorable!
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I’ve seen numerous documentaries on TV about artists who everyday turn up to the easel and go about the business of creating, be it exercises to free the hand or a routine of a cuppa and a fag or simply staring out the window. I’m a big fan of routine when it comes to the arts, as I think you need to keep the cogs oiled and be ready should an idea come; I’ve written successful poems off the cuff and with little preparation but mostly they’ve been ground out over a longer period. I worked in offices for a good part of my working life with numerous daily deadlines to hit; I think this reflects in my output. I can generally be relied on to produce a poem to commission and on time.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing? Not really; I’m really quite boring and predictable! Obviously, the unconscious is at play, so who knows what is being stirred at those levels. I will contradict myself, to say that my last book THE END was written at the height of serious illness, when all was turmoil and I had to prepare myself for the worst, but I wanted to capture the experience as it happened and changed so mood definitely effected the poems and they do run the gamut! I like to approach poetry from a position of steadiness and calm; it doesn’t stop some pretty freaky stuff popping out!
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I have a couple of collections on my computer, edited and ready to put in front of my publisher, but one must always remember that no one asked one to write a book, so I don’t think the world’s breath is baited waiting for my next opus…..Plus the market is trickier than usual at the moment; no gigs at the moment and I think buyers are now well over the surprise that you can buy things over the internet….
When you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
By my late teens I had concluded that due to lack of ability and a desire to own my own house, the writer’s life was not for me, be it in prose or poetry. But I’d held onto a few poems and when my Father died in my early 30s, I wrote a poem and thought, hmmmm something is still there. In my late forties I started to write a crime novel for money and after 100 pages decided my heart wasn’t in it, so went back to my first love and after about six months I was getting stuff published, so that I was fulfilled on both spiritual and therapeutic levels through being able to express myself and also on a temporal level in that readers seemed to like my stuff and I liked the recognition (I’m quite shallow in this respect) So I chose poetry and I chose the lighter end of the pool with occasional forays into the deep end.
Do you plan your poem, or let the poem lead you?
I do like a prompt; I take it as a challenge and it is a useful starter or if a commission then useful money. But, then it’s over to me and I just go with my thoughts and there is little planning at this stage although I’m sure there’s a lot of unconscious editing going on. Am I able to write entirely freely? Probably not; you bring your own life and experiences to the page and I don’t fancy taking substances or meditating to block them. Besides, these are maybe what readers find interesting! I plan in retrospect probably; I think that maybe the poem as written would be better as a sonnet or concrete or… I rarely start a poem thinking that I’m just “writing myself in” to the subject; to me that would be a waste of time, though sometimes when one reflects “writing myself in” was just what I was doing!
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I’m more “Wenglish” than I might first appear. I have spent most of my life in England though I am now living in Wales. Never quite felt I “got” England, and I am now very much at home in Wales. Welsh poets identify me as a welsh poet; that’s good enough for me! I guess blood will out….
How many hours in the day do you write and do you set yourself a daily word count? Every day I’m fiddling with a poem or starting something off or doing a review, though nowhere near the turnover of William Stafford, who started a poem every day of his long adult life! At least an hour a day I would say, but that’s how I’ve now constructed my life. No word count; probably not appropriate to poetry
How long on average does it take you to write a poem?
I don’t like to have poems hanging about for too long; I fear that they’ll go off the boil. So, I’ll say that after the initial burst, I will keep chipping away for about a week and by that time I usually have something I’m pleased enough with. If I’m sending it out for competition or magazine submission, I’ll touch it up again. Having said that, I’m now trying to slow my turnover and concentrate on longer more complex poems for competitions. There’s a lot to be said for shorter, more pithy poems, but they don’t win prizes! I show the longer poems to my peers and am happy to take advice though of course I retain my own beliefs in the poem and how I’ve constructed it, so I will not be swayed too far!
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books whether that be a long-forgotten memory, a positive experience etc.
My friend the poet David Van Cauter helped me edit my first two books (Bodies and Cry Baby) and as he sat me down for the latter, he said “So, still writing about your Mother then” which I didn’t think I had been, but which then became obvious. I actually led me on to look at my relationships with women and a better understanding of them. Sounds weird for a man in his 50s but such things often take a long time to unravel. I also by writing my books discovered that I could write books! I could find an arc, order the poems, get endorsements and find a publisher to publish me; that surprised me!
Thank you for the opportunity to chat about my writing, Paula 🙂
It’s been lovely having you join me in the tearoom, Gareth. To find out more about Gareth’s work please check out the following links.
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.