Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blog her award

Thanks very much, Teresa Stenson, for presenting me with this blog award and giving me something to post in February! 

- Where do you usually write/create?

In writing terms, the creating and the writing often occur at different times, though not always. Often an idea will present itself to me when I’m out and about, or when reading or listening to other people’s conversations – I am a dreadful earwigger! In that sense, the creating part happens anywhere. But the writing gets done during school hours, and evenings after the kids are in bed, and at weekends, usually at a table I bagged at a charity shop for this very purpose, though I used to have to write on my bed (which is far more uncomfortable that one would imagine if one hadn’t spent all day there). I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go, too, so I do take notes and jot lines to add to story drafts-in-progress as I potter around Auckland and its environs. Comic creating gets done, predominantly in my car, outside the house of my daughter’s guitar tutor or on the settee of an evening, and the painting part I do at the aforementioned desk. I should have just written “Anywhere,” ay?

- Describe your ideal writing/making day.

I wake naturally, it’s still very early, I have clarity of thought, my eyes aren't sore and the kids are out with their dad for the day and miraculously my neighbours are not felling trees or using petrol mowers or leaf blowers. I open my laptop and the next thing I notice is the kids opening the door, they’ve had a great day and are asking why I haven’t put the lights on. 

- What are you really enjoying working on at the moment?

A short story about food and cross-cultural social etiquette, and a comic/graphic interview with a writer whose work I am in awe of.

- What, if anything, stops you from writing?

Insects. And biscuits. Insects in my biscuits would be a definite game ender, unless they were dead fly biscuits, which would only cause a temporary hiatus. 

- If you could choose a writer to be your mentor (share work with, chat about the process) who would it be? 

I have to choose just one? I was lucky when I won the AUT Graphic Fiction Competition that part of my prize was mentoring from Dylan Horrocks, who is revered as something of a comics Buddha, though I doubt he would be keen on followers rubbing his tummy for luck. Writing wise, I love everything I’ve read of Nuala Ní Chonchúir, David Constantine and Adnan Mahmutovic, they can do no wrong in my eyes, and I’d love to natter with Alison Moore, Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje and Audrey Niffenegger, ask them about structure. 

- Do you believe in writer's block? If you get it, how do you overcome it?

I think it’s very real for a lot of writers, I don’t doubt it when they say they have it, but I haven’t experienced it. The nearest to it I can imagine is when I spend too much time on my opening paragraph and I find I put a disproportionate amount of pressure on myself to have the following sentences perfect in a first draft. I think something like writer’s block can also happen, conversely, when the opening is all wrong and I haven’t thought something out as well as I should have before writing, in which case the writing bumps me out and I find it difficult to press on until I’ve resolved the issue. 

- Tell us a good thing that happened to you today.

I got this blog award!

- What's the first thing you do in the morning?

Pretend to be asleep.

- What's your most listened to song?

Today it’s “Birds” by The Veils (Finn Andrews and his younger brother were at a recent literary gathering I attended, apparently I wasn’t the first person to mistake the latter for the former and my mention of the younger being the spit of my kid brother did little to redeem me). Previous obsessive plays include “Animal Life” by Shearwater; Rokia Traoré’s “Laidu”; Christine McVie’s “Songbird”; “Have You Got It In You?” by Imogen Heap; Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut”; “Yes” by McAlmont and Butler; “Tonight Will Be Fine” by Leonard Cohen (I was lucky enough that Mr Cohen gave me permission to use his lyrics in my fiction, and my fave cover of this track is Teddy Thompson’s); “The Witch of Pittenweem” by Emily Barker; and of course, Jamez Chang’s “Fifteen Years” which features a sample of my voice (who doesn’t like the sound of it?)!

- Who would play you in the movie of your life? 

Vickie Bak Laursen, better known as Pernille Lindegaard from The Bridge – Danish is a lot like Barnsley dialect: en kop te, tak – sorted. But if I wanted a blockbuster, Rachel Weisz, because a) then people would flock to watch it, and b) I think Rachel doing a northern English accent is a feather she cannot omit from her acting cap and can only improve relations with him indoors, from whom she can take lessons, and c) she’s already called Rachel – bonus. Kate Winslet might be good, too, for the upside-down smile ability. Ideally, if you get all three of them in the Brundle-pod and splice them, without accidentally including a fly in the mix, I think a good me-alike would be the result.

- What would the title of your autobiography be?

I’m slowly cobbling together a comic memoir currently and that’s called New Shoes, but a written autobiography could be called Alter Thy Face – you read it here first, folks.

Apparently I have to pass this on, and the nominees are:

Helen Caldwell 

Nominees - if you choose to accept the award, here's what you need to do:

    Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
    Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
    Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
    Provide 11 random facts about yourself. (I've omitted this part as I feel it's beyond the call of duty)
    Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
    Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
    List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
    Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

The new questions are (I couldn't think of eleven and wanted to get this posted today!):

~Who or what motivates you?
~If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you do?
~You’re on a desert island, what have you taken with you?
~Describe in one sentence your work area.
~What are the barriers to your creativity?
~What’s your definition of success?


Above The Parapet said...

A really entertaining post Rae. Just finished watching a The Bridge and I can definitely see why you would choose 'Pernille' to play your part - a good choice . Good luck with the writing!

Rachel Fenton said...

He he, thanks, Alison! Wasn't The Bridge good? Poor Pernille - atichoo - I was in shreds.

Power to your writing elbow, too! xx

Lori said...

I can see you, sitting down to write and forgetting about everything else around. I so wish I were more like you. But there is only one Rachel manic writer Fenton, and that is as it should be.
Thanks for nominating me for the award. Now I have to try and make myself sound interesting to other people. That can be a really hard job for unfortunate souls like me. But I'll do my best:)

Rachel Fenton said...

I do get lost in the work, though part of the reason I cannot lose myself in it today is because I haven't set my alarm and I have only an hour and a half writing time left and I cannot trust myself to not get lost, in which case I will totally forget to pick up my son from school!

You have no worries on the interesting front, trust me! Looking forward to your post :) xx

Donna Hosie said...

What an awesome Q and A!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you, Donna! xx

Tim Jones said...

It's been far too long since I visited your blog, Rachel, and this piece- plus the photo-essay below - were a great way of catching up. Your continued success is inspiring - well, it's certainly inspiring me!

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks so much, Tim! I will be happy all day thinking I've inspired Tim Jones! :)

Teresa Stenson said...

Brilliant answers, Rachel - thanks for taking this up and letting us in to your creative head. Your answer to the where-do-you-usually-write question is confirmation of what i already knew and admired about your process - you just do it when you can, in between the rest of life, no drama. (Unless you're listening to YES by McAlmont and Butler on repeat - I've been known to be prone to that - used to have the recording from TOTP on VHS, my Mum was a sucker for it too, she'd recently broken up with a ne'er do well and we'd stick it on at full volume and feel empowered.)

V.excited for 'New Shoes', and also for the avant-garde experimental new wave film featuring all them actresses playing you.

Thanks again, and soon I will check out your nominees over a cuppa tea.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks so much for nominating my blog and giving me the chance to flip the lid on my head and let you in, Teresa. It was fun answering your superbly thought out questions, however, I exhausted my little grey cells in the process and, well, I don't think I did myself justice the questions I thought up!

I too came to YES via a ne'er do well! It is essential break-up listening.

And, to play tribute to you and another oft-played song (by Fleetwood Mac): You-hooo-oooohoooohooohooohooohoo, you make blogging fun! (Tune optional)...

Anonymous said...

Good answers - but where you've written 'dreadful earwigger' surely you mean 'excellent earwigger?' It's an essential writing skill and impossible to switch off once you've picked it up (though always a worry that someone might read your story and recognise something they've said).

Rachel Fenton said...

Hahaha, yes, I should have put 'dreadfully good earwigger'! All forms of noseyness are part of a writer's tool box, I think - ear trumpets and binoculars optional!

Thanks for nebbing in!