I’ve been tagged by Aura Eadon to answer the following questions arising from Nicolette Elzie‘s blog.
When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?
Aside from the grey period when law school sucked out all the joy, I’ve always loved books and reading. But I never thought I could be a writer. I wasn’t creative or deep enough. Yet the need to create stories niggled at me for years. I’ve done Nanowrimo, attended a few short courses and produced five or six half-finished novels but never had the confidence to take myself seriously. Then during some maudlin navel gazing, I realised writing a novel was my life’s ambition. So I decided to get serious and come out as a writer.
What genre do you write?
I like to make stuff up so speculative fiction is my genre. A bit sci-fi but no spaceships. A bit fantasy but no ‘chosen ones’. I’ve tried writing in other genres (urban fantasy, crime etc) but the stories did not feel right. It did not feel like me. Speculative fiction is a comfy place to be.
Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?
I’ve got a full production line going with four or five pieces in various stages of drafting, editing and resting. My Monolith trilogy has been my main focus for the past eighteen months but I’m taking a break and currently working on a set of steampunk YA novellas set in 1880s Melbourne. My heroine is a 17 year old ex-pickpocket and acrobat now living in the Colonies with her long-lost father.
What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?
There was the cringe inducing poetry published in the school magazine, featuring thinly veiled phallic imagery. Good times.
What’s the best part about writing?
Reaching the magical flow state, when the story takes over and ideas appear out of nowhere. I am just the implement recording the words on the page. It’s pretty damn cool.
What’s the worst part about writing?
When everything I write is a steaming pile of poo and the vicious voices whisper in my ear, telling I have no talent and I’m wasting my time.
What’s the name of your favourite character and why?
Anne of Green Gables. Manic, kooky and fragile, she leaps from the page. She’s the inspiration for my steampunk heroine, Evangeline. Although in real life, Anne would get on my nerves. Such a drama queen.
How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?
I’m one of those annoying A-type personalities. Since I decided to get serious, I write or edit every day. But writing is my happy place. In an ideal world, I’d spend every morning writing. But in real life, I write whenever and where ever I get a chance.
Did you go to college for writing?
Nope. I’m ambivalent about writing degrees. For me, writing is about discipline and practice. Can those skills be taught in a class at university? I’ve done short courses in the past. Now I read writing reference books and try to read critically.
What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors or grammar errors?
Spelling errors. They stand out like a big angry zit.
What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” – Steven Pressfield
What advice would you give to another writer?
- First drafts are always shit – go Hemingway!
- Stop talking about writing and write
- The real work starts after you’ve finished the first draft
What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?
The Creative Penn, Story Grid, Steven Pressfield, Chuck Wendig. Encouragement comes from the brilliant Monthly Writing Challenge crew on Twitter.
Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?
I spend a lot of time in my head and sitting on my bum, so I try to balance this out with walking, running and weight training. I love to lose myself in books and films.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
Three way tie between Perdido Street Station – China Mieville, Parable of the Sower – Octavia E Butler and Sunne in Splendour – Sharon Penman. Speculative fiction in three different ways.
What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?
Cheap Thrills – a twisted movie about what people will do for money.
What is your favourite book or series of all time?
Of all time? Too hard. Currently I’m into Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. Recently completed Book 5 – Foxglove Summer and anxiously awaiting #6.
Who is your favourite author?
Depends on the direction of the wind and what I’ve had for breakfast. I’ve mentioned a few authors above. Other honourable mentions include Val McDermid, CJ Sansom and Michael Robotham.
What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?
Hopefully to start querying my Monolith trilogy by the end of the year. Exciting times. Wish me luck!
Really enjoyed this ‘getting to know you’ insight, Madeleine 🙂 I found myself nodding to a lot of your answers. My turn to respond either later tonight or tomorrow!
Thanks Beverley. It was fun to do a little navel gazing. Look forward to reading about your “confessions”
Do you think I should write it in dark glasses and a headscarf for anonymity? 😉
Or a Groucho Marx pair of glasses?
Now I’ll have that image in my head all night…;) I managed to answer most of the questions tonight so tomorrow should see them posted!
Thanks for starting this whole thing, Nicolette! It would be interesting to hear from someone who felt their creative writing degree absolutely made them a writer. We’re all different.
I agree I would love to hear about their experience and what influenced them. I would think the program would have a lot to do with someone feeling that way, but you’re so right we’re all different so what works for one person wouldn’t necessarily work for another.
Btw, it’s lovely to meet you! I absolutely love getting to know other writers! And I thank you again for sharing your experience!
Oh I totally love this. 😀
It’s impossible for me to imagine you as a lawyer/solicitor/whatever. Coming out as a writer, oh that made me grin from ear to ear. I totally agree that degrees don’t make writers just persistence and presence. The magical flow, such a brilliant term, love it. And the advice of stop talking about writing and just write. 😀
I hope you no longer believe in the “not creative/not deep enough” nonsense. Your words ooze creativity and uniqueness, they are sharp, witty, and right on target. Looking forward to reading your published book.
Wow. What a beautiful comment. “I am not worthy.” I can’t wait to share my stuff with the world.
Better get back to it or it’ll be all talk.
A. J. Lundetræ
Hi! Love what you write about your works in progress. Wishing you awesome results of the Monolith trilogy querying process!!! 🙂
Thanks for your good wishes! I’ll take all the good luck I can muster.
Melanie Noell Bernard
I love your favorite thing about writing! This ‘state’ is literally something that only writers understand and I know this because I’ve tried explaining it to other people and they don’t get it. They don’t understand how the character, the world, the story can take over and it just spews from your fingertips without your control. Even if they don’t get it, I do and I love it! It’s one of my favorite parts as well (and I think I take it for granted some days. >.>)
Very nice opinion on writing degrees and a great rhetorical question. Grammar, language, and punctuation can be taught, but voice and style are things that manifest through time and experience and since no one has the same voice or style, they can’t be taught in a general class of X number of students. That being said, many people may do well in writing degrees and come out from them with published books. However, if we all did that, we’d all be writing the same thing from the same experiences and in what world would that be interesting??
Yay! An active writer! (By that I mean physically active. :p) Some days I feel like I’m the only person who ever brings a book to the gym and sits on the bike reading. It’s like everyone stares at me like I’m the crazy one. I see nothing wrong with exercising both the mind and body at the same time though I still trying to figure out how I can read while running. That one is though for me. :/
OO! Query time! Good luck! That part is very nerve-racking (not that I’m there, but just thinking about makes me anxious. :P) I bet someone will gobble up your story in no time. ^.^
I think other artists might understand the flow state. It’s when you get complete absorbed in something and lose time. I’ve just finished reading Evensong by Krista Walsh where an author gets sucked inside his own story. Really interesting!
Melanie Noell Bernard
Oo! Now that sounds like a snazzy story! I may have to look into that one! (and that sounds kind of scary. I wouldn’t want to be sucked into any of my book worlds. 0.0)