The explorer in me finds inspiration in human behaviour and experiences, and the mysteries of life. I think I simply seek to connect the dots, though not to suggest that there is only one way to do so. But after I’ve completed something, undoubtedly, I find that I was trying to understand better something about life and how we operate within it, and to offer a sense of universality in worldly experiences.
Storytelling is just so powerful. It disarms you; if it’s done well, it also sneaks up on you. Rather than telling you what it’s trying to say, you discover later how deeply you returned to your thoughts and your own experiences.
I haven’t met a creative person who doesn’t feel the pain of creation, but similarly, I haven’t met one who doesn’t exhibit immense joy and pride in seeing the final work. I think that’s one of the best things – seeing the creation come to life. But it’s not the only good thing. There are moments of near transcendence where you are someplace else, without awareness, and just working at it. When you emerge, you feel whole, or maybe validated? Because the creation has been banging around in your head for a while, most probably – and while it can be extremely difficult to get going, once you’ve started, there are moments of blissful creation where it is just you in this other world, exploring, investigating and conjuring.
Being a creator brings with it the highs and lows, the good and the bad. As a journalist and author, one of the positives is that you can work alone, but this is also one of the most challenging aspects. It can be lonely and you can easily feel disconnected and like you are not part of something larger.
Another major challenge is the slowness of it at times. It’s unlikely you’ll have a clear-cut pathway, with easily identifiable milestones (though there will be some). It will take time to get better at what you do, and for your work to get where you want it to go.
I still remember the first time I heard of the Copyright Agency and received a payment. I was dumbfounded, and so grateful that this service existed to claim copyright royalties on behalf of writers. The significance perhaps stems from how undervalued the arts are in many ways. People like to be consumers of creative works, but these works are often underappreciated. Knowing that yours has value – that when it is reused, you are compensated – is significant.
This Book Changed My Life
There are a few books that stand out because there has been more than one formative moment. In my youth, reading Roald Dahl affected me deeply – I loved the humour and the worlds he created and it made me want to be a storyteller.
In my 20s I read Watermelon by Marian Keyes, which is classified as chick lit, but I think unfairly so. It is actually about life on a deeper level, told in a humorous and warm way, and Keyes’ writing just exploded in my mind. I had never read such hilarious yet honest first-person fiction. I knew then I really wanted to write a book.
But in recent years, as my writing has turned more towards non-fiction, dealing with more serious content, I found that I wasn’t the same after reading Woman at Point Zero by Nawal El Saadawi. It shook me to the core – this powerful book about freedom, but told in a way that you just don’t expect. I thought about it for so long and couldn’t forget those important moments where El Saadawi crystallised so beautifully what it means to be a woman, what it means to be free.