I was having a highly-enjoyable (and even more highly-recommended) nose around the frankly gorgeous Kirstie Komoberi‘s blog, when I discovered “The #WritersLife Tag“. The concept is simple, and similar to an earlier post, “What’s a Few Questions Between Bloggers?“:
Once tagged at the foot of a series of thematic questions; you answer them.
I, much like Kirstie (I hope she doesn’t mind me highlighting) was not tagged by a third-party; but happened across, and undertook, the questionnaire of my own accord.
Write Fuel: What do you eat/drink while writing?
Tea; much tea. Perhaps a biscuit (ideally a Fox’s Crunch Cream), but the dunking becomes a distraction, so usually a cheeky couple of Freddos instead.
Write Sounds: What do you listen to while writing?
I neither listen to music, nor watch television, whilst I’m writing. Granted, if I’m writing about a particular song, album or band I’ll most likely give it a brief listen, but I find this – like this biscuits – risks becoming a distraction; so the above remains the only excuse for music.
Write Vice: What’s your most debilitating distraction?
At times, music – discussed as above – but more often, books! I definitely find myself, for better or for worse, spending far more time reading than actually writing.
Truthfully, I don’t view this as procrastination: juggling two (indeed, three when you throw in music) insatiable loves is simply a dastardly-difficult balancing act. I would be fascinated to know if Kirstie has the same experience…
Write Horror: What’s the WORST thing that’s ever happened to you while writing?
Burning my dinner. Pretty undramatic.
Alternatively, sitting cross-legged on my bed (typing) for so long that when I finally got up, an extreme pins and needles had taken hold, rendering my legs to half-set jelly: tumbling back onto my bed and narrowly missing my laptop was pure, unadulterated drama.
Write Joy: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you whilst writing?
This is [perhaps] surprisingly difficult to say… I couldn’t really settle on something that happened whilst writing. However; sending a piece of writing that I had worked incredibly hard on, and for which had I visited The National Archives at Kew Gardens for research, to the writer I admire most, and having him replying to say he thought my piece was “fascinating” was, and forever will be, exhilarating.
Write Crew: Who do you communicate with (or not) while writing?
No one. If it involves someone in particular and/or I want to quote them at length, and (consequently) feel obliged to get their approval, then I’ll communicate with them. Or, if I need a historical fact or statistic confirmed by someone smarter than I. Other than that, writing is for me a splendidly solidarity process.
Writing Secret: What’s your secret to success (or hidden flaw)?
Flaw: When I get a piece back and am asked to cut it down, I almost invariably extend it; whether by references or rewording or both. I’m a pain in the arse.
Write-spiration: What always makes you productive?
I read a piece yesterday by the late Gavin MacFadyen, one of the founders of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, who passed away last October. In it, he wrote:
Investigative stories don’t, thankfully, require the inspiration of publishers or editors … but instead demand a reporter’s moral outrage at injustice, incompetence, brutality and misery.
This is most certainly one thing that sets my soul aflame and gets me writing.
Other things, quite specifically, include:
– an astonishing quote or fact I want to share*
– a brilliant blog post I’ve read, and with which I want to engage
– “…a book read, a sculpture seen, or a thought reframed”: such pieces are “experiments in understanding and feeling as much as attempts to describe or explicate”**
– The Get Up Kids’ Something to Write Home About
Write Peeve: What’s one thing that writers do (or you do) that’s annoying?
I genuinely can’t think of anything (by them; lord knows I’m guilty of a whole myriad of sins). On the other hand, they could offer me free books for the sake of it, if they’d like.
Write Words: Share one sentence from a project:
The strengthening of the US embargo against Cuba, first with the passage of the Cuba Democracy Act, and then by the passing of the Helms-Burton Act, created conflict between the US and its allies.
* On this exclusive level, Henry Kissinger is a big inspiration.
** Katharine Ogden Michaels, ‘Editor’s Note’ in Katharine Ogden Michaels (ed.) The Essays of Leonard Michaels (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), p. vii.