Sunday Compulsion: Luanne Castle (Why I Write)

Welcome to “Sunday Compulsion,” in which creatives answer one question: Why do I create? Here’s poet Luanne Castle:

When I pondered why I write, my mind flipped the question to why I don’t write during so many fallow periods. There have been so many reasons over the years: school, work, social life, teaching, raising kids.

It’s not that I haven’t had plenty of active writing periods. I wrote poetry as a kid and, later, as a teen. I attended grad school for an MFA in poetry and fiction.  When casual poetry workshops formed online, I joined them. When schools offered more formal online workshops, I attended some of those, too.

But I would write with passion for weeks or months or even years—and each writing period would be followed by a period where I wrote little, if anything. I didn’t have writer’s block. I don’t even know what that is. I’ve just lived my life and waited for writing to demand my time again.

Even now, I am always finding something that keeps me from writing. I spend time on my elderly mother’s needs. I foster (and adopt, too—it’s called foster failure in the shelter biz) homeless cats and volunteer at the local shelter. My husband and I travel for work and we travel for pleasure.

So the question that might help me answer Bob’s initial one is what brings me back to writing? It must be the pressure of not writing. The idea bin in my head and the idea list hidden under my daily to-do list both spill over. I realize I can no longer sort through my thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings begin to merge, to blend together. I get cranky. Really cranky.

And then I start to write again. At first it’s a little bit like throwing crap on the wall, but then my mind develops some clarity. I feel more in the moment and can process my emotions as separate events from my thoughts. I become less cranky, even a bit amiable, and when I’m tired, I turn off the computer screen and have a glass of wine, happy to put away a draft of a poem for tomorrow.

* * *

Listen to Luanne read “When Your Grandfather Shows You Photographs of His Mother,” a poem from her recent publication, Kin Types.

Read the poem here: When Your Grandfather Shows You Photographs of His Mother

* * *

Winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Doll God, Luanne Castle’s first collection of poetry, was published by Aldrich Press. Luanne’s poetry and prose have appeared in Grist, Copper Nickel, River Teeth, Glass Poetry Press, Barnstorm Journal, Six Hens, Lunch Ticket, The Review Review, and many other journals. Kin Types, a chapbook of poetry and flash nonfiction, was published July 2017 by Finishing Line Press. Kin Types was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest.

Luanne has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside (Ph.D.); Western Michigan University (MFA); and the Stanford University writing certificate program. Her scholarly work has been published in academic journals, and she contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. For fifteen years, she taught college English.

An avid blogger, Luanne can be found at She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina.

Find Luanne at these sites:

Luanne Castle
Writer Site
The Family Kalamazoo

Watch the trailer for Kin Types.

Kin Types is available here:
Barnes and Noble
Finishing Line Press

Doll God may be found here:



53 thoughts on “Sunday Compulsion: Luanne Castle (Why I Write)

  1. I agree – I feel like I am procrastinating so much when it comes to my own writing… admittedly, I do spend about 8 hours minimum, 5 days a week on a computer typing for my day-job as an operations manager, so am unsurprised that I don’t feel motivated enough to then sit at my PC in the evenings or before work just to write for myself… though I definitely should as it is lethargic and does help with taking a load off my brain, and balancing me 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • When I worked a demanding job, time was the major deterrent. I worked in spurts – twenty minutes here, thirty there – and managed to accumulate a significant number of completed poems over the course of a year. But it is trying, to say the least.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for featuring Luanne here, Robert. I think we all have our own work/creative rhythms, but we need some down time. I think for me, sometimes ideas just have to sit in my brain for a bit, and I just have to give them time to grow.

    Splendid poem–and collection. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Sunday Compulsion: Luanne Castle (Why I Write) — O at the Edges | Writer Site

      • Yum! OK, I pretty much just take my standard fried rice recipe and add the kimchi. The biggest decision you will have is whether to have scrambled egg or fried. I’ll give you the scrambled version, but you can always omit that and add fried egg to the top at the end.
        Scrambled many eggs in your wok with a smidgeon of olive oil and move them around with a chopstick. Do not use any other implement. Then set the eggs aside while you prefer the rest. Or if you are going to top with fried egg, start recipe here: If you don’t need it vegetarian, you can start with a strip or two of bacon minced and fry it so that your pan is coated and the bacon cooked. Then add kimchi (the best one you have in your fridge, but preferably a cabbage kimchi). If the leaves are big, chop first. As you stirfry the kimchi in olive oil for health ;), you can add a little chopped onion at this point, but I don’t like too much and sometimes don’t use any. You can also add in a vegetable or two. I like to keep a frozen bag of peas and carrots for fast fried rice, but if I have something fresh, that is even better. Add in a little tamari sauce (not soy sauce) as you stirfry the veggies. Then add in a big container (hahaha) of leftover rice (I always purposefully make too much in my rice cooker so that I can make fried rice the next day or even 2 days later). Keep stirring and breaking up the clumps of rice that are stuck together. And adding tamari. At the end top with chopped green onions and sesame seeds. Make enough to eat the next day because it will be even better.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This resonates, “I don’t even know what that is. I’ve just lived my life and waited for writing to demand my time again.” And it does. I take notes in my phone otherwise I find myself harassed by rogue sentences all day. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thanks for sharing those insights, Luanne. You give me hope that a compulsion to write will come to me. Also, I look forward to reading “Kin Types.” I loved the poem you read about your ancestor whose features flow through four generations.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: A Spotted Jumping Dog | Writer Site

  7. The obsessive writing followed by “writers block,” can be the same characteristics of bipolar. I know because I speak from experience. As did Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never suffered from “writers block,” but whenever I don’t write for a period of time, it feels as if the words have been dammed up inside me, and when I start writing, they gush forth.


  8. I have and have heard some of the same concerns from spoken word artists over the last 14 years. Why do people feel the need to compartmentalize poetry? It is an expression of individual thought no different than painting, photography or music. Can there not be self taught poets the same as self taught musicians? Poetry is a branch of language the universe uses to gain our attention and I write because poetic free verse captures what I want to say in vivid lines.

    Liked by 1 person

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