Meet the Author: Patrick Kindig

by Katie Walker on June 23, 2014

Patrick Kindig Photo copy

Patrick Kindig — whose story “How to Pack a Suit Case” was just excerpted in our last blog post — has kindly agreed to answer our questions for those of us imploring minds. Kindig, a graduate student at Indiana University, has already had publications for his poetry in Poiseis Review, Isthmus, and Jabberwock Review, but Under the Gum Tree is proud to publish his first piece of creative nonfiction. Here is our Q&A with Patrick Kindig.

Q: When and why did you start writing?
  As a kid who loved to read, I was always writing the first chapters of fantasy novels and laying them down before anything actually began to happen in them. I didn’t begin to write “seriously” (i.e. poetry and “literary” prose) until my second year of college, and I guess I began doing that for the same reasons I wrote as a kid: I wanted to feel like I was more actively engaged with the writing I loved–now Virginia Woolf and Charles Bukowski rather than J.K. Rowling and Christopher Paolini–than just reading would let me be.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing?
 Writing, for me, is often a struggle; inspiration doesn’t come easily, and I have a difficult time finishing anything much longer than a page. It’s incredibly rewarding, however, when I’m reading over a finished piece and realize that I’ve managed to surprise myself. This doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I’ll read the ending of a poem or prose piece and find myself thinking, “Where did that come from?” This is such a great feeling.

Q: Where do you find your biggest inspiration when you write?
 My inspiration varies, and I’ll often go through phases. Sometimes I’ll become obsessed with writing creative responses to news stories. Other times I’ll write for weeks about my childhood or I’ll become really interested in language experiments and write nonsense for a while. A lot of this depends on what I’ve read most recently.

Q: Do you have a writing schedule?
My schedule also varies. I’m a graduate student, so I’m pretty busy during the school year, and when I’m taking classes, I usually only write when I’m struck with inspiration. During winter break or over the summer, however, I try to write or revise something–no matter how bad–every day or every other day. Recently, I’ve been going to a favorite coffee shop after work and just sitting there until something appears on my laptop screen.

Q: What is the hardest part of writing for you?
 The hardest parts for me are beginning and ending a piece. I usually rewrite the first sentence of anything I’m working on a dozen times before I can move on to the rest of it, and once I’ve finished something, I’ll rewrite its ending over and over for days or weeks. I always think that my openings aren’t hook-y enough and my endings are too trite, so I have a really difficult time bookending my work.

Q: How long does it usually take you to finish a story?
 I’m primarily a poet, and it usually takes me just a couple of hours (with frequent breaks) to finish the first draft of a poem, which I then revise over the course of the next couple of days. When it comes to prose, I tend to write shorter pieces–mostly flash fiction and nonfiction–and I’ll usually be able to finish a story or essay in one or two days (plus a revision time).

Q: Are you working on anything now?
 I’m not seriously working on any big projects right now, but I am slowly and tentatively beginning on a poem sequence called “Revelations” about the art of keeping and revealing personal secrets.

Q: How many rejections did you get before you had something published?  How did you deal with them?
 I actually began by submitting to very small lit mags–often published specifically by and for undergraduate students–so my first publication came pretty quickly. My first real person publication, however–in a journal produced by adults for adults–took a bit longer, and I did get quite a few rejections before it happened. I dealt with them primarily by feeling awful about myself and intensely questioning my ability as a writer for a day or two, then getting distracted by school work or some other responsibility and starting on a new piece of writing.

Q: How did you celebrate when you got your first acceptance?
  I don’t think I did anything terribly special. I hyperventilated a little bit, posted an exuberant Facebook status, and then went out for a drink with my roommate.

Q: Do you prefer typing or pencil to paper when you write?
 I much prefer typing; I edit so much as I go that using pen or pencil would be impractical.

Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?
As an English grad student, I’m pretty much always either reading or writing. When I do have some free time, however, I like to bike, drink coffee and Michigan beers, watch bad horror movies on Netflix, and play with my boyfriend’s roommate’s cat.

Q: Who is your favorite author?
 My favorite writer is definitely Anne Carson. If we’re talking strictly about fiction-writers, though, I may have to go with Ernest Hemingway.

Q: What are some of your favorite books?
 Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson, is one of my all-time favorites. I’m also a fan of Hemingway’s short story collection Men Without Women and Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey.

Q: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I don’t really think I’m qualified to give anyone advice about writing, as I don’t know what I’m doing myself. Something that’s helped me grow as a writer, however, is simply reading as much as possible. Reading good writing changes your relationship with the world, with language, with basically everything (for the better).


UTGT_Cover12Summer has officially begun and to celebrate the new season Under The Gum Tree is bringing you an entirely new issue. Filled with featured stories, stories from our departments of Fork and Spoon, Sound Track, Stomping Ground and 1000 Words, there is a medley of reading to enjoy for everyone. Under The Gum Tree seeks to reach every individual on his or her own personal level — whether you enjoy adventuring, discovering something new or finding others out there with stories like your own, Under The Gum Tree has something to captivate you. And of course our issues wouldn’t be complete without the lovely aesthetics you see on the cover. Binding the whole thing together we have stunning artwork and a photo essay dispersed throughout the issue’s pages. If all that isn’t convincing enough for you to commit, here is a sneak peak from “How to Pack a Suitcase” by Patrick Kindig:

Put it off

“Put it off as long as you can. Wait until you have finished your last dinner and your roommate has left for a last walk, then look through the bedroom doorway at your suitcase and tell yourself that you have to start. Do not go into the bedroom. Go into the living room instead.

Look at the ugly green couch where your roommate likes to nap, the coffee table that can be cranked up and down, the cabinet full of crystal wine glasses. Look at the yellow wallpaper and the window ledge on which you sometimes sit and read. Remember that your landlady, who lives upstairs and is as old and tough as forgotten Halloween candy, helped rebuild this house after the war. Go to the closet in the hallway filled with German translations of Shakespeare and detective novels and consider taking one of her books as a souvenir. Do not take one. Look through the bedroom doorway. Return to the living room…

Dig through the contents of your suitcase, which is already half full of souvenirs and books. Notice that there is not much left for you to do. A handful of shirts, a few pairs of shorts, a toothbrush, a sweater—this is all that holds you in this apartment. Stuff these things into your suitcase and realize that now nothing holds you here—nothing but your roommate and a few unopened beers in the fridge. Consider how neatly your life fits into a bag. Leave the suitcase open. Pretend this means something.”
To read Kindig’s full story and those from Lucy Black, Robert Freedman, Rachel Lowrance, Justine IckesJanna Marlies Maron, and Chelsea Schott, purchase your summer issue here.  

We hope you take as much pleasure in the stories and artwork as we do.


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