An Interview with Lynne Schmidt

First and foremost, what inspired you to write Gravity?

A lot of things. I had a lot of feelings surrounding this particular relationship that weren’t quite going away. The dynamic I wrote about here had so many layers to it, the relationship (or lack thereof) itself, who I was at the start to who I am now, the feelings….all of it. Weeks before I’d assembled this collection, I lost my dog to an aggressive cancer, and then found out the subject of this collection was engaged. It was a different kind of loss…

Gravity wasn’t meant to be a collection, but I put everything together and sent it to him a week or so before he got married. I think some small part of me was hopeful my writing would be powerful enough to summon him to my door, and I’d find him saying he’d missed me.

But this is real life, not a rom-com. So my dog stayed dead, he got a wife, and I got a book.

Did you struggle at all, writing about such emotionally-charged events?

Yes—I worried the words weren’t right, or that they didn’t give justice to the experience and the feelings. Editing was harder, I think. Some of these poems I’d written years ago but as I put them together in this collection, I realized pieces were missing to help the flow of the story. Leos was a hard one to write because I wanted to encompass how hard it is to lose something you’ve worked so hard for—the banality of a relationship, the everyday boring goal of setting your toothbrush beside someone’s. It was doubly hard because here I am x-amount of years later, in a healthier and happier relationship with another person, and still stuck in the past.

How about Gravity’s subject—does he about it? If so, do you know what his reaction was?

He knows. He said he’s buying a copy.

When this collection was longlisted, I’d reached out to let him know and ask if I should pull it. He said it’s my writing and he was proud and happy for me. And let’s be real, he’s a Leo, so having an entire collection about him? Please, he loved it.

What was your process in writing this book? Did you write the poems individually and notice these through-lines or set out with this final product in mind?

The poems were written individually. I’d go through phases where I missed him (especially when I was single, or found out he was engaged) and needed an outlet. Parts of me are still having a hard time letting go. When we met, I was such a mess, and so was he. I thought we could work together and heal each other.

And well, it worked, just not in the way I had expected or hoped.

He was married last year. About a week before his wedding, I put everything I’d ever written about him together, named the collection GRAVITY, and sent it to him as a “hahah” kind of thing.

I didn’t expect to put it on submission…And here we are.

Do you have a favourite piece(s) from this collection?

Leos is a favorite, for sure, The Impermanence of Stars, and To Make You Love Me.

Were there any pieces you decided not to include in the final version?

Yes and no. There was one that was handwritten that I wasn’t able to find in the time to resubmit. I’m sure I’ll write more poems about him in the future—I mean, good material is good material, right?

Can you tell us more about the cover?

Yes! My friend Reid Maxim is an incredibly talented artist. He does photography, paintings, pretty much name it and if it can be pretty he can do it. I’d seen some of the work he’d done with galaxies and spray paint and watercolors. I knew I wanted something space-based (how could I not with the name Gravity), and because stargazing had played such an integral role in the dynamic that was written about (see Aries/Leo interactions). So I asked Reid and he put this together. The hardest part for us was picking the font and then the placement of it. We met up at Applebee’s and had a few Adios Motherfuckers and BAM.

We had our cover.

Who would you most recommend Gravity to?

Anyone who has had that love. The kind where when you see the other person, it’s as though the stars have burst and glitter is raining on them. Even if you know they’re flawed, and even if you know this is never going to work out, you’re grateful for this moment, this breath, this kiss.

This collection is for the people who wear their hearts on their sleeves.

What have been your favourite and least favourite parts of the publication process?

Time management, haha. On a daily basis, I am juggling work, an internship, and graduate school. So being picked to be published was a dream come true, but then adding that into the mix AND adding a move at the end of September. Please don’t get me wrong, I am so so honored and grateful and feeling all the feels. Timing was the hardest part. I’m so sleepy.

Do you have any advice for those who might want to follow in your footsteps?

Yes—don’t give up on your work. I have had so many people cheering me on, telling me not to give up. If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have by now. But publications, collections, full out novels—they take time and a ton of effort. Keep going, and it’s okay to take breaks when you need them.

What project(s) are you working on going forward?

Right now I have a forthcoming collection from Thirty West Publishing called On Becoming A Role Model, which is slated for Spring 2020. It revolves a lot around my family, my trauma, and figuring out how to be the kind of adult my niece can look up to.

Outside of that, I have a memoir, The Right to Live: A Memoir of Abortion, that I’ve been working on for the last few years about my experiencing with an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy, the religious shame and guilt that nearly drove me to end my life, the abortion that saved it, and reinventing myself as a snowboarding instructor.

And some young adult novels that I’m working on editing. I can’t wait until January when I’m done with school and can focus a bit more on writing and snowboarding.

Besides the amazing work you’ve created here, what’s your favourite poem you’ve ever written? How about your favourite by someone else?

My favorite poem I’ve ever written was probably Aftermath which appeared in Volume 2 of Frost Meadow Review. I wrote it following the death of my dog and best friend, Baxter. It was the first thing I’d written in a long while, and from there I couldn’t stop. Gravity followed shortly after, so it’s strange how this all has worked out.

My favorite poem written by someone else is probably Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus—I have the words, “And I Eat Men Like Air” tattooed on my collar bone.