Saturday, March 3, 2018

My (small press) writing day: Nicole McCarthy

I don’t have a desk anymore; I have an inspiration alter instead. Pinned are photographs of favorite moments and favorite people; objects given to or made for me; sculptures and installations and headdresses and erasures, all keeping space in my head. They all serve as conduits to activate my creative energies. This is how my morning begins.


I write throughout the day when moments come to me—I pull out a post-it note and jot the words down, words insistent and flurried, and shove it in my bullet journal. Jars at home are bursting with multicolored notes just waiting.

For the past six years, I haven’t gone anywhere without a notebook in my bag. I only buy purses big enough to carry writing notebooks and there’s usually at least three loose pens floating at the bottom.

Periodically throughout the day I work on brand management in between my actual job (business editorial work). I share the work of fellow writers and poets on social media to elevate and support their voices. I research presses and publishers and take time to share book love. I answer emails and inquiries about upcoming readings.


I carry around a small, green malachite stone with me at all times. I rub it back and forth between my fingers to create a moment I can step into to write:

back and forth

back and forth

back and forth

When it’s not being used, my stone lives with my pens and highlighters; I like to think it spends its off time charming my writing utensils, giving it pep talks and insisting they write with unparalleled gusto.

I don’t know at what point in my life I realized I couldn’t work from home, but I’m only productive when burrowed in corner booths at local coffee shops. I have one I visit 3-4 times per week; they ask me about the status of my book & bring me coffee without having to order. Five hours will go by before I realize I’ve finished two projects and the café has cleared out.

Almost nightly, I meet a small group of writers here. We trade ideas and provide feedback on pieces that we emailed each other the past weekend. Then we sit in a comfortable silence, working. We chat in between writing sessions but our task master keeps us in check (for the most part).

Arriving home around 10:30pm, I attempt to make a dent in my to-be-read bookshelf.

Nicole McCarthy is an experimental writer who earned her MFA from the University of Washington Bothell. Her work has appeared in Glass: a Journal of Poetry, The Shallow Ends, B(o)ink, Crab Fat Magazine, Ghost Proposal, FLAPPERHOUSE, Tinderbox Poetry, The Fem, Civil Coping Mechanism's A Shadow Map anthology, and forthcoming in the 2018 Best American Experimental Writing anthology. Her work has also been performed and encountered as projection installation pieces throughout Tacoma and Seattle.  She can be found on Twitter @GarbytheSass and her work can be found at

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