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The Gatherer’s Blog

Type the name Wordgathering into a Word document as I did just now and it will be immediately underscored by a squiggly line the color of a teacher’s corrective pencil. Our options, if we wish to appease the gods of autocorrect, are to divide the word in two, click Ignore—which all users of the word-processing program know lasts but a moment before that punitive red reappears—, or to add it to our virtual dictionary, thereby insisting that, at least in the private world of our laptops, it is indeed a word and the very one we meant to say.

Wordgathering: a Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. What I’ve grown to love about this journal’s title is that it’s an attempt to describe the creative process and, in so doing, likens writing to a physical act. We are gathering words the way we might gather berries, choosing the ripest, most fully formed and succulent, sometimes pricking the pads of our fingers as we go. Wordgathering implies real labor and discernment, but also a trust in one’s instinct and the odd contradictory pleasure of being both alone in one’s room and out in the sun as part of a crew.

Alone in one’s room. In order to write, we close ourselves up in our houses, decline invitations from friends, turn off the ringers on our phones. We also use every ounce of self-discipline we can muster to keep ourselves from switching over to email, Facebook, or a click-by-click shopping spree. That seclusion, when we manage it, is nourishing and necessary to our gathering of words, but—to throw another food metaphor into the mix—it can make us a little nutty at times. At least that’s true for me. My superstitious side kicks in and I start to believe my workday will only go well if I drink tea from a particular mug, clear my desk of all remnants from my non-writing life, have a supply of dark chocolate on hand. Pacing, muttering aloud, rereading passages of my most favorite books—these are all part of my writing ritual. Once I’ve managed to complete a draft I put it on my Kindle to give it the appearance of a published work, thereby tricking myself into reading it with distance and objectivity as though someone else had gathered those words.

The way each of us writes is personal and quirky. And, because I spend many solitary hours doing it, I’m fascinated by how others go about their work. This is why I’ve asked Michael Northen for a space within Wordgathering where I can invite writers in the disability community to tell us something about their process. Guests of the blog may write about struggling with particular pieces, or what they’ve learned from their mentors, or the unexpected emotions that surface on publication day. They may describe a weekend at a writing conference or half a year on book tour. Disability will come into it some of the time and other times not. Our guest bloggers will get to choose what they want to share with us about their rituals, impediments, and joys, and we, in turn, will get to spend time in their company. I hope you’ll join me at The Gatherer’s Blog in forthcoming issues of Wordgathering as I peek over the shoulders of writers I admire and follow them into the fields.


Daniel Simpson interviewed by Mark Danowsky: READING, THINKING, KEEPING MY HEART OPEN