Ian Williams is the author of Personals
, shortlisted for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award; Not Anyone’s Anything
, winner of the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada; and You Know Who You Are
, a finalist for the ReLit Prize for poetry. He was named as one of ten Canadian writers to watch by CBC.
When did you first know you wanted to write books?
By the year I got my braces on, I knew I wanted to write. But I didn’t see myself writing books until university. Filling notebooks was satisfaction enough. As for being a writer, I’m not much into the idea of writer as scarf-wearing, coffee-drinking, pen-sucking dilettante. If that’s the image of a writer, then it’s possible to write without being a writer.
How does writing fit into your typical day?
In days of yore, I would have the time to write x hours in the morning. I sometimes wax nostalgic but I’ve come to see writing as an inevitability. These days, I squeeze writing out according to the pimple principle: even if I don’t pop it, it’ll erupt. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a break-out.
Do you type or write by hand?
Both. Poetry tends to begin by hand, fiction by fingertip.
What have you read recently that you loved?
I’m reading Michael Lista’s Bloom beside C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity beside Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook beside Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. And beside all of those, I’ve been reading work from my students. There are a few creative non-fiction pieces from them that I’ve loved recently.
What are your all-time favourites?
Margaret Atwood’s Power Politics, Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, Eliot’s The Waste Land, Beckett’s plays, a poem a girl I had a crush on wrote when I was in grade 7 and she was in grade 8.
You can either write or read for the rest of your life, but not both. Which do you choose?
You’re asking me to choose between blindness and silence. Where’s the ethics board?
What’s your third R, and why?
Restraint. I’ll restrain myself from saying more.