Charlotte Otter writes a blog called ‘Charlotte’s Web’ (link on this page), and on occasion she posts a meme. I appropriated this meme from Charlotte, who appropriately appropriated it from someone else. If you’re a writer too, then pass it on.
It is about my passion for writing.
I am loving writing this blog, and offering my perspective on the places I have been, and how travel can change me, and any person willing to let it.
In addition to writing about travel, I write plays, short stories, poetry, articles and have even penned my first novel, which will be published (I invoke the power of positive thinking and action).
This meme not only highlights my shiny triumphs, it gets into the dusty, mouldy corners of my writing history. I answered each question in turn, without reading ahead.
What’s the last thing you wrote?
A blog post. It was about fresh perspectives that come when you see a loved one in their home town.
Was it any good?
I liked the points I made.
What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?
I wrote a cutting satirical expose about public toilets when I was 15. It is still pretty funny, but limited in insight. I have been to many worse public toilets in the world since. Maybe I should revisit it.
I used to. A long time ago. I did write Ben a poem last year, but that was the first (and last) one in a while.
Yes, I often wrote about my poor, tragically-broken heart. My most angst-ridden was called ‘Screaming at the moon’. I still have it. Dire stuff. I was 20. Enough said.
Favourite genre of writing?
Autobiographical commentary – on life, on travel especially.
Most fun character you’ve ever created?
Kiara. She is a storyteller, and the heroine in a fairytale I am penning for adults.
Most annoying character you’ve ever created?
Any replicant of myself in fiction I have written. The angst I once expressed through poetry also came out through much of the fiction I created in my 20s.
Best plot you’ve ever created?
Something still in the works – the fairytale – and it’s good! But I will keep the details under wrap for now.
Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
It is in the fairytale. The heroine is not who she seems to be, and is subsequently faced with a harrowing moral question.
How often do you get writer’s block?
All the time. The best cure is just to sit down and start writing. 9 times out of 10, action creates inspiration. On the 10th time, I just give up and go for a run, or eat chocolate. The running sometimes brings inspiration. The chocolate just makes me happy.
Do you type or write by hand?
Both. I sometimes jot down lots of notes in one of the 10 notebooks I have lying around, and then form them into something on the computer at a later point. Other times, I am best friends with my computer. The computer is essential for the polished final product, but inspiration can strike anywhere. I have written lengthy passages on weird things like food packages, and plane tickets.
Do you save everything you write?
Yes. From my intellectual ramblings disguised as university ‘Literature’ assignments, to every film idea I have ever had. I keep all my travel journals too, and a huge thank you to my mother who kept all my letters from Europe (long ones before email was the thing), as these letters formed the basis of the novel I have written about that time.
Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?
Yes. I started writing the fairytale about 18 months ago, and have left it and come back to it twice. I will go back to it again soon. I can feel it. It is not that we had a ‘falling out’; I just need breathing room from the big projects sometimes – to gain perspective and generate fresh ideas.
What’s your favourite thing you’ve written?
I wrote a detailed retrospective travel diary of my time in Greece in 2006. It is a record of falling in love with life all over again, after a long period of unhappiness.
What’s everyone else’s favourite piece that you’ve written?
The three people who have read my novel have enjoyed it. My best friend from high school still raves about the ‘public toilet’ piece (no, really). My mum (my biggest fan) loves the fairytale in progress. And Ben loves anything I write about our travels together.
Do you ever show people your work?
Yes, to people I trust to tell me the truth. I get positive and constructive criticism about my work, and take it all on board. I do not want to hear mindless responses about how good it is. Fortunately, these trusted people are good to me and are honest.
Did you ever write a novel?
Yes. It is about a year in my life when I worked for a tour company in Europe. This was one of the best and hardest years of my life, and I tell it all (well, almost).
Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
No. Well, yes. Contemporary romance. In film form. Partially. It wasn’t good.
What’s your favourite setting for your characters?
Anywhere I have been. I hope to capture the distinct feeling of those places in my writing, both the fiction and the non-fiction.
How many writing projects are you working on right now?
This web page, my fairytale, and perhaps I will revisit the novel again soon. It needs to be dusted off and freshened up.
Do you want to write for a living?
Yes. I do write as part of my job – I am a Drama teacher. I can never find plays for my students with enough good roles, so I write my own. The last one was a Greek myth, which I also created, and observed the conventions of ancient Greek theatre.
Ultimately, I would love to write exclusively for a living. Perhaps I would continue to teach in some forum. Perhaps not.
Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Yes. I was chosen as a winner in a short story competition run by New Woman magazine. I won a trip, and I took a girlfriend to the north of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef for a week. We lived it up, especially as it was on someone else’s dime.
Ever written anything in script or play format?
Yes. See above.
What are your five favourite words?
ebbed, cathartic, sumptuous, delicacy, dream (for today)
Do you ever write based on yourself?
Yes and no. The autobiographical stuff, obviously. For fiction I have shifted away from that – to a degree anyway. I do believe in the adage, “Write what you know.” This is why the autobiographical work and blogging has been so fulfilling.
What character have you created that is most like yourself?
I need to climb inside the mind of all my fictitious characters, but I most enjoy the characters who are least like me. They get to do and say all the things that I wouldn’t dare; I enjoy the vicarious thrills of their antics. No one character in current or recent projects is exactly like me.
Where do you get ideas for your characters?
This may annoy other writers, but some of my best story ideas and characters are those I have dreamed. Otherwise I am often inspired by places. I can envision who would live there, and what their life may be. Then I breathe into those shadowy images and create something more tangible. A favourite character evolved from a visit to Hradcany Castle in Prague.
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Yes, as I said above. I dreamed the basic story for the fairytale I am writing. It has developed greatly since then, but I woke in the middle of the night and could not stop writing. I did not go back to sleep for over an hour.
Do you favour happy endings, sad endings or cliff-hangers?
Have you ever written based on an artwork you’ve seen?
Yes, in a writing workshop, and the facilitator was just brilliant. It was a terrific process he took us through. I did not go back to that piece, but I have used that technique in teaching students to write fiction. Art work can be a powerful catalyst as it often evokes such intense emotion.
Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Scrupulously so. I cannot read anything without seeing any errors that might exist.
Ever write anything in chatspeak (how r u?)
Only on IM or sms.
Entirely in L337?
Was that question appalling and unwriterly?
Am not cyber-savvy, and am guessing that is something to do with computing, so I do not know.
Does music help you write?
Yes. Often I play classical music while writing. Like art, it is evocative. I go in and out of awareness of its presence. On occasion I will replay a piece several times as I write; it becomes the soundtrack for what is on the page.
Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.
Her voice was tentative at first, but soon the richness of its timbre filled the room as the young women sat around her, mesmerized by her face, her lined, and very beautiful face. She began her tale:
This is from the opening of the fairytale.
That is all. I will return to another destination soon. Vegas beckons.