I have a friend called Becky who has known me since I was a baby, whose Dad lived with my Dad at University and who pops up at various points in my life! Most recently she helped me to correct some of the errors in my drafts of Listening to our Grandmothers and she also happened to be in the class they first time I tried Nia. Recently Becky started a blog of her own, From Page to Plate, which is a fascinating exploration of food through literature. She’s been a literature teacher for many years (in fact another time in my life when she popped up was when she took her teaching degree in the same class as my sister Hannah!) and loves cooking. Her blog brings together literature and cooking and explores how writers have written about food in literature. Anyway Becky recently contacted me and asked me to follow her in a writers blogging tour (thanks Becky) and I accepted. The idea is that writers answer four questions about their writing process and then hand on to three more writers who do the same thereby creating an every-increasing inter-linked chain of writers! So here are my answers – followed by three great writers who will follow me!
Question 1: What am I working on?
Right now I am immersing myself, as much as possible in the second draft of the novel I have been working on for a while. Its my first novel and explores the lives of four characters all of whom, at some point live in Dar as Salaam in Tanzania. In some ways it’s a project of love for a city I have called home for some of my own life and the changes it’s been through over the past 30 or so years. On the other hand it’s an exploration of the complex themes of love, loss, migration, immigration, otherness, idealism, jealousy and control. At the same time I blog here at least twice a month, write regular reflections to people who have signed up to my email updates and I am still promoting the book of elder women’s life stories which I published last year, Listening to our Grandmothers.
Question 2: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
In relation to my novel I think really the only answer to this question is that it is my own unique story to tell. When I am in the flow of my writing it is as if the words are being channeled to me from some higher place of consciousness but what I know is that they only emerge in the form they do through me.
Question 3: Why do I write what I do?
I write from my own experience, my own struggles and dreams. Sometimes I do write very directly about my own experience. In fact if you sign up for my regular reflections emails you can download a piece of writing, which is all about my own experience called ‘Finding Your Way Home’. But in most of my writing I am less central. Nevertheless all my writing comes out of a deep sense somewhere inside me that the stories I am telling need to be both told and heard. I don’t know any of the people in my novel in this life time but when I am writing they feel very real to me. And of course some of them do have things in common with some of the many wonderful people I have known and loved in my own life.
Question 4: How does my writing process work?
It took me a whole and quite a lot of patient guidance from other writers to get to a place where I have a process; in fact I feel it is more of a practice, for my writing. I wrote the first draft of my novel in the early mornings – sometimes starting as early as 4 or 5am. I would write without fail until I had penned at least 1000 words and then allow myself – if I felt like it, to stop and get on with the rest of my day. More recently the practice I have been exploring is actually one of movement followed by writing. I am a teacher of a movement practice called Nia which is designed to help get out of our heads and into our bodies. This is what writers also need to do in a sense to quieten the inner critic that may (often) support our procrastination or writers block. By combining movement and writing, usually early in the day I have begun to find a greater sense of flow not only in my body but also in the words that fall on my writing page. This is something I am constantly exploring and hope to share more of in future.
The writers I want to introduce you to have all also taken to the stage at The Story Party, a storytelling event I run with one of them, in recent months – I can’t wait to read all about their writing processes:
Beverley Glick has been telling stories for a living for more than 30 years – first as a music journalist and pop magazine editor, then as a national newspaper superwoman. More recently she added human potential coaching and story archaeology to her portfolio and now helps individuals and business owners dig for the personal stories that will change their lives and change the world. In September 2013 we launched The Story Party together. www.beverleyglick.com
Yang-May Ooi is a mixed media author & story performer. Her work explores the power of personal narrative to enchant, inspire and transform. She runs www.storyguru.co.uk, is currently working on a full length story-telling piece called Bound Feet Blues and recently made her TedX debut with ‘Rebel Heart: How Small Acts of Rebellion Can Create Powerful Change’. Her novel, The Flame Tree, will soon be re-issued by Monsoon Books.
Claire Taylor is a Writer, Storyteller, Business Consultant and co-founder of The Story Mill, an innovative organisation that encourages businesses to engage in real conversations, using the art of storytelling. The Story Mill supports both internal relationships amongst leadership and teams and external communication with their customers. She believes that storytelling is the answer to unblocking the flow of communication hence her mission with The Story Mill; to create enhanced business success through the power of authentic storytelling. Following her enthusiasm for writing, Claire published her first book in November 2013, a wisdom memoir called The Tao of Storytelling – 30 Ways to create empowering stories to live by. Her storytelling websites are; www.the-tao-of-storytelling.