Kerrin McCadden on the Writing Process

IMG_0488.JPGRobert Frost approaching Little Iddens, Dymock, 1957 (Howard Sochurek, Life Magazine © Time Inc.)

“Scholars and artists thrown together are often annoyed at the puzzle of where they differ. Both work from knowledge; but I suspect they differ most importantly in the way their knowledge is come by. Scholars get theirs with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately, but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the fields.” -Robert Frost’s 1939 Essay “The Figure a Poem Makes”; Preface to Collected Poems


“If I lose track of what I’m working on—or just let working slip, then I feel like my skin is crawling.”

I write in my head all the time, like a walking meditation, without the walking.  I always have a poem I am working on, and I finish almost every poem I begin.  Sometimes there is a lot of living that gets in the way of focused writing time, but I hold the poem I’m working on in my head.  If I lose track of what I’m working on—or just let working slip, then I feel like my skin is crawling. Sometimes the work is slow, sometimes fast, but the point for me is never to let go of it.  If I’m off in my life it’s often because I’m off in my writing life.

When I sit to write, it’s at a computer, preferably in front of a fire or a window.  I work and work at revision, and though poems sometimes come all at once and of a piece, I mistrust them for a long time.  I tend to trust work I’ve sat with for a good long time—kind of like how we come to trust friendships, over time and after much rearranging and poking and prodding.

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One thought on “Kerrin McCadden on the Writing Process

  1. Hello Kerrin,
    One of my friends posted your intro to the frost place and the photograph of Robert Frost immediately caught my eye. My brother and I visited Dymoke, England in 1992 shortly after the 900 anniversary. We drove out to Little Iddens to take s look. We grew up in North Bennington about 5 miles from the house where Frost lived in Shaftsbury so we were surprised to learn that Frost had lived in Dymoke. I believe that he was actually living there when his first book was published. We also lived in Barre in the late 50s. Although I am not a poet I am friends with some local poets of note, Chard DeNiord and Veranda Porche. I am a painter and I paint with Karen Hesse each week. I will be sure to check out your writing.
    Thanks for putting the photograph of Robert Frost out there as it brings back fond memories of our trip to Dymoke.

    John Dimick
    Guilford VT

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