rob mclennan Interview @ The Torontoist
My “critical interview” series continues in the electric pages of The Torontoist’s book section. In this, the fourth incarnation, I spent some time with the prolific poet, novelist, and essayist, rob mclennan. The headline at The Torontoist says that I “drop the gloves”, which might be true (why ask question if they’re not going to be hard ones?). But I don’t know, looking at the final interview with a hockey metaphor in mind, I would suggest that a colour commentator would describe this interview as chippy. It was a chippy interview, especially in that first period.
Anyway. rob should know three things. A. He has my respect, B. His Richard Brautigan book was the first collection of Canadian poetry I ever bought that wasn’t written by someone named Cohen and C. I like some of his books more than others. Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the interview. But you’re better off clicking here and just going to the full thing.
jacob mcarthur mooney: well, to start, i’ve decided to adopt as much of the rob mclennan personal grammatical lexicon as i can: lower-case letters, few periods, etc; consider it both a homage and my personal stanislavskyian method-interviewing exercise. anyway, you’re a guy who publishes a lot of books; between the novels, the poems, and the essays we’ve seen as many as five new titles a year. my first question pertains to rob mclennan’s cutting room floor: what’s on it? anything? are you someone who writes at a prodigal clip, and then pares away; or are you someone who finds an eventual home for most of what he begins as a first draft?
rob mclennan: first draft never even makes it out of the house; editing happens regularly, and even daily. hell, i just cut 20% out of a poetry manuscript that im still trying to find a home for. you wouldn’t believe what gets left on that “cutting room floor,” including whole manuscripts. but why do i keep having to counter notions that everything i publish is first draft, and everything i write i push to publish? there were 3 unpublished novels i abandoned before white appeared in 2007, and 3 others not given up on yet, some going back a decade. some of those long essays (McKinnon, Fiorentino, Suknaski) took up to eight months to compose, revise, even with daily work. my second poetry collection was six years between the first few lines and final publication.
everything takes its own time, im just a few books ahead. apparently Kinsella is always four books ahead, between writing and publishing, in that queue. would he ever be asked the same?