How I Write – Tasha Cotter

me and jules


When/how/where do you write?

I tend to write on the run. I work full-time and I’m pursuing a Masters in Adult Education degree right now, so I have to steal moments to write. That usually means on my lunch break, on the bus, thirty minutes in the evening, maybe on the weekend. I have no set schedule for my writing – I wish I did! Life is just busy at the moment, and I wish I had more uninterrupted time to write, but it’s OK that I don’t at the moment. I know that I’m still a writer – someone who soaks up the world, soaks up experiences, reads a little bit of everything, and is still interested in a little bit of everything.

Basically I carry around about three different sized moleskins with me everywhere I go: one for poems in progress, one that’s sort of like a reading journal where I jot down quotes, ideas, books to read, authors to learn more about, and one other very small journal that I use for grocery lists, budget stuff – it’s pretty random.

Do you eat while you write? If so, what?

Not usually, but if I’m at home I’ll likely make some hot chocolate or tea while I have my laptop open.

Do you play music while you write? If so, what?

I have a hard time composing something while listening to music. This used to be easier for me, but now I find that music tends to compete with what I’m trying to sort out, whether it’s a poem, or a longer-form piece. I get distracted and lose my train of thought. I can sometimes listen to music while editing. What tends to work best for me is music with few, if any words. I like Explosions in the Sky, Yo Yo Ma, Yann Tiersen, and I like this one Spotify station called Piano Bar.

What are you reading right now?

I am just finishing The Spoons in the Grass are There to Dig a Moat by Amelia Martens – a new book of poetry that I picked up at the Sarabande Books table at AWP. I’m also reading the UK Fall 2016 Common Reading Experience book Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I’ll be teaching this novel this coming fall, so I’m reading it and taking notes along the way. I recently finished Fanfarlo by Charles Baudelaire – a fantastic little novella about a doomed affair I stumbled across at Half Price Books, and I’m also looking forward to reading Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez – I love nonfiction adventure narratives and travelogues, so I hope to get some time to read this book over the summer.

Tasha Cotter is the author of the poetry collections Some Churches (Gold Wake Press, 2013), That Bird Your Heart (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Girl in the Cave (Tree Light Books, 2016). Winner of the 2015 Delphi Poetry Series, her work has appeared in journals such as Contrary Magazine, NANO fiction, and Booth. In 2015 she was named runner-up in the Carnegie Center's Next Great Writer contest. A contributor to Women in Clothes (Blue Rider Press, 2014), The Poets on Growth Anthology (Math Paper Press, 2015), and the 2017 Poet's Market (Writer's Digest Books), she makes her home in Lexington, Kentucky where she works in higher education.