Orey Wilson Dayne’s piece “Soundtrack for the Apocalypse” appears in Midwestern Gothic‘s Winter 2017 issue, out now.
What’s your connection to the Midwest, and how has the region influenced your writing?
I was born and raised in the Midwest. I could see cornfields from my bedroom window and my high school had fields on three sides (the last side was forest). My town didn’t have a McDonalds, a stoplight, or a gas station. For me, getting into a big city was always the dream. It wasn’t until I moved to Philadelphia that I realized how much of an Ohioan I was. I think the sky is different everywhere you go and I can always pick out a Midwestern sky. My Ohio-ness is something I hope always comes through in my writing.
What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?
The most compelling aspect of the Midwest is it’s perceived normality. So many movies and TV shows are set here because of how “normal” everything is. To outsiders, it’s just a huge, flat expanse with nothing but cows, fields, and farmers. So, that gives us, as writers, a chance to exploit that stereotype. We can play off the normality of the things that happen here, even normalizing things that aren’t. Or, by letting my Midwestern settings shine through, even the smallest things can look extraordinary. In doing so, I can show how un-normal it all really is.
How do your experiences or memories of specific places—such as where you grew up, or a place you’ve visited that you can’t get out of your head—play a role in your writing?
My poetry tends to focus heavily on the concept of “Place”, un-doing and remaking it’s definition. I’ve done a lot of moving which has resulted in me forming roots in odd ways. Like a tree by a sidewalk, I have hooked onto places like my High School choir space and wiggled beneath the image of the peach tree in my childhood backyard. These memories and places resurface in my writing often; they’ve become motifs that I return to, even when I can’t go back to the true location.
Discuss your writing process — inspirations, ideal environments, how you deal with writer’s block.
I’m one of those annoying people that doesn’t believe “Writer’s Block” exists. There are scheduling issues that keep me from writing. Often my to-do list overshadows my list of poem ideas. But, if I can buckle down at my laptop, I can always crank something out. I wish I had more elbow room in my schedule, but work pays the bills and, as of late, I tend to eat food. As far as process goes, I work better with a keyboard than pen and paper. I also like working in the early morning/late evening. I also find myself building up ideas over a span of time and bursting out with a few pieces all at once during a single sitting. This is better for me because I see most of my poems as pieces of a bigger concept or collection.
How can you tell when a piece of writing is finished?
Deciding when a piece is “over” isn’t easy for me. I could pick at a piece endlessly. Like I mentioned, I typically think of my poems as limbs of a bigger creature. So, I don’t always feel done with a piece until I’m done with the whole collection. This might not be the most efficient way of doing things, but it’s what puts my inner-editor at ease.
Who is your favorite author (fiction writer or poet), and what draws you to their work?
My favorite writer (at this exact moment) is Billy Collins. He is able to take little moments from his life, work them in his hands like Silly Putty, stretch them across a page, and, when he pulls it back from the paper, there’s an imprint of him that is artful and precise. He also has some really great titles, of which I’m totally envious.
What’s next for you?
As far as writing goes, I’m working on completing my poetry collection, Soundtrack for an Apocalypse. Meanwhile, I’m attempting to get pieces of my collection Edges of Men & Kings published. Basically I’m trying to feed one toddler while the other one runs under my feet, screaming and throwing toys.
Where can we find more information about you?
If you want to know more about me, I have information and a blog on my website oreywilsondayne.com. I also am constantly tweeting nonsense on my Twitter, @OreyOreyOrey.