Why do you write?
For me writing has always been a form of catharsis, a way in which to deal with my emotions and internal demons. Once I bring these emotions into words, lines and rhymes they suddenly make a clearer sense and allow me a distance from them. I also write to try and create something beautiful out of the darkest places.
What books do you read?
I recently was given a kindle which has been amazing and means not having to carry big books around, it has also meant I have been reading authors I would not normally have read because they have a free download. I have been reading some great short stories and poetry, the novel I recently enjoyed the most was called (perhaps ironically) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
What inspires you?
People, love, pain, anger, passion and lust. The human drama in me and the people round me.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?
I never really knew and still don’t really think of myself as a writer, it is just something I have always done. Since I was teenager I have been writing poems but because I always wanted them to rhyme I thought it made what I wrote cheesy and amateur, not serious poetry. I felt like somebody that was doodling while all around me were master painters.
I still find it hard to take my work seriously and push myself to be ambitious in terms of publishing etc although I did self-publish 120 copies of my first volume of poetry ‘To All The Men I Loved Before’ in 2004 all but 5 I managed to sell or give away.
For me attending the Brighton Poetry Society for the first time in 2004 changed everything about what I wrote and how I wrote, I wanted to be on the stage, I wanted to bring my voice to my words. I started getting up at any open mic I could find and started writing rythyem and beat and pace into my poems, sometimes rants, sometimes naked in my self-exposure I was always scared, yet totally exhillerated as I stepped off the stage.
I still perform regularly and recently co-wrote and performed my first ever comedy sketch and I was so very proud, it is such a good feeling to make people laugh 🙂 I have made a decision this year to write more fiction and develop characters other than myself, although the odd poems here and there about my angst inevitably pops out…usually around 3am!
How Do you deal with rejection?
Well it’s tough, I remember reading on a stage in a pub with everyone talking over me and someone shouting out ‘boring!’ in the middle of my poem. Yea, it makes you want to crawl away and hide under the duvet and never bother anyone with your silly words again, but at the end of the day I will still be writing and what I write I want to read out loud and to share. So really, there is no choice but to carry on and say fuck you to anyone that gets you down about it.
Who are some writers you admire?
This is a list that could be very very long but the ones coming into my mind now are: Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, Irving Welsh, Paulo Coelho (who I met!) Virginia Andrews, John Bradshaw, John Cooper-Clark, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg.
Is writing the only artistic medium you do?
I have been a photographer for 26 years and most of the time I think of myself as a photographer, sometimes I have asked myself if I should make my mind up between writing and photography but I can never choose. I realised I need both mediums to make sense of myself and the world around me.
What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?
Have more confidence! get up and shout it out, you may as well!!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Read a lot and give yourself room to write, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
What is your writing process?
It varies, sometimes I just get a couple of lines in my head, I write them down and then it’s like following a road, the lines keep coming and and don’t know where they are going to take me but I do know when I reached the destination.
I attend a bi-weekly writers group and for each session we choose two random words from a book. I find having this framework really helpful, the words give me a starting point and bring out poems in me that would have never existed without them. (I’ll attach some examples to this email) For me writers groups have always been a valuable support and inspiration.
My writing process though always begins with me giving myself the space to write, no music, no interruptions, just me and a pen and paper for the next hour or however long I feel I need, then pick up the pen and see what comes out.