An Interview with Allyson Whipple
I’ve always loved chatting with poet Allyson Whipple, and our chat this week was no exception!
Adriel: Which author wasn’t your greatest inspiration, but did make you think, “Maybe I could be an author”?
Allyson: There was never a maybe for me—I knew when I was twelve years old that I was going to be a poet. That being said, it’s the poets in my community who are a constant reminder that one can be a writer and not have to only write for a living. I am surrounded by many wonderful examples of how to have a writing life and a full-time job on top of that.
Adriel: Tell me about the first time you thought, “Wow. I’m a real author!”
Allyson: The first time someone reached out to me about a poem of mine that had been published in an online literary magazine that really touched them. They found the poem several years after it was first posted, and I was honestly a little surprised it was still up and able to be found! I was so touched that someone had taken the time to reach out.
Adriel: What’s the oddest part about your routine that you simply must do in order to sit down and write?
Allyson: I don’t know that any part of my routine is especially odd. I will say that I vastly prefer silence. And if I can’t have silence, I need to have either instrumental music or music in a language other than English. If I have words I know playing in the background, I can’t concentrate on what I have to say.
Adriel: What is your biggest writing obstacle?
Allyson: Right now, it’s recovering from my MFA program. I did not have a good experience, and I feel burned out. I also feel a little isolated. I’m planning to take the summer completely off, except for maybe submitting work. Sometimes, you just need to pause for a while and pursue other interests.
Adriel: How do you prefer to network, and what impact do you think those avenues have had on your sales?
Allyson: I don’t prefer to network. I hate networking. My definition of networking is remembering to share a link to my work once a quarter if I’m lucky. I have some writer friends who have the ability to do that really well. It’s not a part of my personality. I have to work hard, and find it very draining. I know I would sell more books if I made more of an effort. I’m just happy when my friends make the effort to buy my book.
Adriel: What is one mistake you’ve made in your publishing career that you’d like to warn other authors off of?
Allyson: When I was a less-experienced writer, I didn’t do a very good job of researching the places I was sending poems. Rejection is inevitable, but if you’re sending work to a place that’s not at all a good fit, then you’re wasting your time.
Adriel: Is there any advice you’d like to give to a new writer?
Allyson: Everything will take longer than you think it will. Writing, editing, publishing, the whole process. That doesn’t mean don’t give yourself a goal or a schedule, but recognize that even with the best planning, life is going to happen, and you can’t rush your creativity.
Adriel: What are you currently reading?
Allyson: I’m currently re-reading Rachel Zucker’s Museum of Accidents, which I love even more than I did the first time. After that, I’m going to read Zucker’s The Pedestrians for the first time. I occasionally go through obsessive phases where I need to read all of an author’s body of work, and I seem to be in one of those right now.
Adriel: I do that as well! I love binging an author. Have any super fans found you yet, and if so, what sort of things have they done that seem surreal to you!
Allyson: I once had a very enthusiastic person at a reading approach me saying that she loved my Instagram and she loved my work. It was only surreal in the fact that, even though I followed her, I didn’t recognize her from her photos. So I felt a little awkward.
Adriel: When people read your books, what do you want their greatest take-away to be?
Allyson: In her lecture entitled “Lectures I Will Never Give,” Mary Rufle says, “The problem with many of the poems one sees in workshop is that they differentiate between happiness and sadness.” My aim in my poems is to blur the supposed line between them, and I want my readers to be able to engage with that nebulous space.
Allyson Whipple is a poet, amateur naturalist, and perpetual student living in Austin, Texas. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Come Into the World Like That (Five Oaks Press, 2016) and We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Allyson teaches business and technical communication at Austin Community College. She holds a B.A. in English from Kenyon College, an M.A. in English from Case Western Reserve University, and is an M.F.A. candidate at the University of Texas at El Paso. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking trails all over the state of Texas.
You can find Allyson:
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Hello! I’m Adriel Wiggins, wife, mother of three, fur mom, bibliophile, art geek, and all around student. I’ve been on a quest all of my life to learn as much as I possibly can about everything I possibly can. This has helped me tremendously in what eventually became my life’s purpose: to help other people become the best version of themselves. It is in that line that I became an assistant.