Maggie Smith on Finding Hope on Twitter
In Conversation with Maris Kreizman on The Maris Review Podcast
On finding hope on Twitter:
Maris Kreizman: Tell me about writing about hope on one of the most negative platforms that exists.
Maggie Smith: I started writing these notes to self when I was going through my divorce. I was just trying to get myself through the day, or even the next two-hour stretch… So I posted them not because I thought they would help other people or be meaningful to anyone else. I posted them as a way of coming clean, because I do think that often our online lives don’t necessarily align with the life we are living in our house with our people and our jobs. It was important to me to share that I was struggling. It was scary, being vulnerable in front of thousands of people is scary. But I think the more willing we are to do that, to say, “look, this is the hard thing that I’m grappling with right now” then other people feel less alone in whatever they’re going through.
On the flip side of terror:
Maggie Smith: Revision is my favorite part of writing. I love doing it on the page. It’s much less comfortable doing it in one’s life. It feels very contained and quaint at this time to think about getting to revise a story or a poem when you’re faced with revising your life. What will I do for work next” What will my next relationship look life? What will my kids do? Where will I live. With these big questions that level of revision is daunting, but on the other hand really exciting. The flip side of terror is the exhilarating part, like now I get to make it up myself. In some ways knowing is a kind of death. When you know what’s going to happen next, that stability is comforting, but it also removes a lot of possibilities and motivation to carve out what the next thing might be. When my life imploded, I spent a fair amount of time being sad and angry, and then I thought, but what else?
On moving on from uncertainty:
Maggie Smith: So much of Keep Moving is about getting unstuck, and so much of it is about having a different relationship to one’s certainty. I call myself a recovering pessimist. I think part of it is just wrapping your head around the fact that you don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s not an option… So how do we sit with that in a better way? I’ve found that as a pessimist, which I’ve pretty much been my entire life, I couldn’t sit with it. I couldn’t function with that level of uncertainty.
Maggie Smith is the award-winning author of several books of poetry including Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Lamp of the Body, The List of Dangers, and Nesting Dolls. A 2011 recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Smith has also received several Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, two Academy of American Poets Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has been widely published, appearing in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Tin House, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, and more.