Tuesday, August 20, 2013

If you want to write...

...just do it. And very important, try as much as possible to follow your inspiration, regardless of what they say.
Brenda Ueland wrote this inspirational book at the end of the 30s, but the 21st century reader in me did not find anything outdated. Good news: there were always people really interested to write and share their fears and writing tips. Self-trust is very important not only when it comes to writing, but at a great extent, without self-trust it is not easy to survive the complicated world of words. Nowadays, it is ridiculously easy to put on paper your thoughts especially if you do not have an academic literary training, have more time for your passion but also to publish your own works. It is very simple when you have enough of the big pile of rejection letters collected on your desk. 
Ueland published during her lifetime only 2 books - at the time, it sounded quite normal, not like today when the publishing competition is so tight that if you don't publish at least one title the year, you may be forgotten in the next days. But writing was Ueland's job, as for a long time she taught writing and also kept a diary with the most interesting experiences encountered. Those memories offered a lot of material for the book. In her own words: "Even if I knew for certain that I would never have anything published again, and would never make another cent from it, I will still keep on writing". Contrary to what many may thing, in her opinion, 'inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic stewing, but it comes into us slowly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing (...)". A couple of minutes of solitude each day may create the best environment for inspiration. 
A great advice that goes well for more or less experienced writers is to focus on present. Of course the writer should care about the reader, but by offering the best sample of his work each time - "As you write, never let a lot of 'oughts' block you". Otherwise, thinking with fear about the future - What will the reader say about it? Will he/she love me or hate me or rather consider my work a failure etc.? - will never encourage quality work. The opinion of other members of the family can be important but if they don't like it, it should not matter. I remember as once, as a 14 year old, I asked the opinion of my step father about some small poetry I've written. As he always saw my future in the world of high-tech and science in general, he dismissed my notebook telling me with a cynical smile on his face that I better go to prepare my math homework. Happily for the world of words, I did end up working with words, but for many years after I did not have enough courage to write poetry again. 
I do have some reserves about a generous perspective on the human writing nature, but I cannot stop sharing this optimistic quote: "(...) all people have in them the power to write greatly and well, when they express fully and carelessly what is true to THEM". I suppose that she addressed to people that already knpw they want to write and did some previous exercises at least once. As 'one's writing reflects one's personality' it is important to ponder your words and find your voice. 
Although managing good writing techniques are very important for every kind of writer, a good story is the one made by those who 'think of telling a story not of writing it". A big admirer of Russian literature - as I do I - Ueland recommend the classical works of Chekhov and Dostoevsky for the strong connection with life. For them, 'life is more important than literature' and for her, it is the best recipe for success. The characters must come fully ton life in your imagination. And if it does not happen after the next 100 words keep writing, and writing, and writing. Do you find a bigger pleasure in any other kind of work? 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Interview of the week: Jamie Baywood about her book: Getting Rooted in New Zealand

Jamie Baywood is very busy these days with various events on the occasion of the launch of her book, Getting Rooted in New Zealand. A good opportunity for me to ask her to answer a couple of question about travel writing, New Zealand and expat life. If you were looking for a good read for the summer, maybe now you have the answer. Image
How did you decide to start writing your travel book?
I started writing my book because I had funny experiences that I had trouble believing were true. I wrote the stories down to stay sane.
What is the limit between fiction and travel? How much memoir and how much fiction? Would you recommend the book to someone interested to document a trip to New Zealand?
My book is a true story. My life has been so strange it sounds like fiction, but it is really too weird to be made up. My truth is stranger than fiction. Some, but not all of the names of individuals and organizations have been changed to preserve privacy, but the stories are all true.
My book is in no way, shape, or form a travel guide to New Zealand. I lived in New Zealand for over a year; it is about relocating and uprooting one’s life more than travelling.
- What did you find interesting and different in New Zealand, compared to California - except the distances, of course?
 Whenever I go back to California, I am always shocked by how busy, crowded and loud it is. Everyone is rushing around, there is so much traffic, and it just feels chaotic all the time.  I was amazed with how quiet and unpopulated Auckland felt. People in Auckland would complain about traffic and I would laugh.
 California and New Zealand are roughly the same size. It wasn’t until I went to New Zealand that I understood how enormous America is.
New Zealand feels so safe. In California, I would carry pepper spray with me everywhere I went. I was always on edge living in California. It was amazing to me that in New Zealand the police didn’t have guns.  I felt much safer as a single female traveling alone in New Zealand than living in California.
The flip side of the feeling of being sheltered from the world in New Zealand was I felt isolated. There was a palpable feeling of being at the end of the world in New Zealand that at times I found overwhelming.
- I have New Zealand on my priority list for a long time. What should I see and do before I leave?
See everything. See the whole country. It is manageable to drive around both islands. The roads are pretty easy to navigate getting around the islands.
New Zealand is famous for its scenery, but I loved the creative scene in Auckland. Spend time in Auckland watch Steve Wrigley stand-up and watch a Thomas Sainsbury play.
I miss eating at chicken katsu at Renkon, the amazing French restaurant Le Garde-Manger on upper Queen Street, and Ponsonby Food Court in Auckland. Also be sure to go wine tasting on Waiheke Island.
- How much did it take to write the book? Any recommendations for a first time travel writer?
Most of the book was written as the events happened; it just took me a few years to work up the nerve to publish. I wrote situations down that were happening around me and shared them with friends. The stories made people laugh so I decided to organize the stories into a book and publish in the hopes to make others laugh too.
I recommend other travel writers write things down when they are fresh in your memory. Events that are unplanned or seemingly insignificant at the time maybe be entertaining or interesting down the line.
- What are your favourite travel writers?
 The Travelettes and the Young Adventuress have great travel blogs.
- What is the subject of your next book?
 My next book will be about traveling on the South Island of New Zealand, Australia, California and attempting to settle down in Scotland.
 You can find Jamie on Twitter: @JamieBaywood and on Facebook.com/jamiebaywood
 Find her book Getting Rooted in New Zealand in paperback and eBook on Amazon

The Interview was published first on my travel blog: http://ilanaontheroad.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/interview-of-the-week-jamie-baywood-about-her-book-getting-rooted-in-new-zealand/