The second interview in a new series focusing on writers who—le gasp! —aren't writing to get published. If you have any ideas on discussion topics or people I should interview, please drop me a note.
Writing Without Publishing: raspil speaks
Wolf - Chapter 1Acrid smells on the air were not unusual in Ethayn’s world, and he knew them for a sign that he was safe to come out of his hiding places. On this occasion, it was the kitchen table that had been his refuge, and he crawled out and ran to the window, clambering up onto the wooden-topped counter so he could get a good view outside. A cousin, Esthelle, ran up too, but she went to the door to look, instead. Her little gasp of half-excitement and half-contentment rang into the empty kitchen air almost in sync with the sound of horses’ hooves shaking the ground.
The riders came in little clusters, most heading towards the main stable. There was something terribly grand about the men on horseback to young Ethayn’s eyes. The youngest was his cousin Telfer, who did not even have a beard, and the oldest was his father’s uncle Grenden, his hair all salt and pepper. Ethayn’s avid stare sought out one man who stood out instantly – a tall man on a deep bay s
Symbolism IVWith your eyes you create monsters.
Ode II.When I was a first-year medical student at fresher events, people used to say to me, "Oh wow, I bet you see lots of amazing stuff!" The simple answer to that was not really, not at that time. I'd been a medical student for a few weeks. No, I can't diagnose your knee problem or advise you which tablet you should be taking for your sinusitis. I've only got a few weeks on you. I certainly don't have stories of the weird and wonderful to share with you, much as I'd like to.
I think that the only time I've really sat down and reflected on this, is right now, almost at the end of my fourth year. This is when it strikes me how much has changed sinc
Boring question first! How long have you been writing?
I wrote a lot as a teen, but then I had this writing block when I was in school in my late teens and couldn't write a single sentence, whether for essays or for my personal writing. I only started writing again once I mingled in with the Lit people here. (So now you know who's to blame.)
Slightly less boring follow-up! I know you're a doctor, so was there some point where you chose that over writing, or was it the plan from the beginning?
No, they're all part of the same person. I'm me, I write, I take blood from people, I eat a lot, and I go for long walks. It all coexists.
If you suddenly found yourself able to live off your writing, would you give up being a doctor for it? Why or why not?
No. I became a doctor much because I can't really live any other way. As difficult as my working hours are, and as much as I struggle, I just couldn't live without doing something significant for others, and medicine is the way I do it. That said, I could do with more money. Like everybody else.
How do you describe yourself: as a doctor, as a writer, or does it depend on whom you're talking to? Do you mention that you write in professional settings?
I don't describe myself as either, funnily enough, most of the time. It's one of my quirks that I never use my "Dr" title outside of work. "Miss" makes me feel young. Also, people usually use "Doctor" when addressing me when there's a serious problem I need to fix for them... T_T And as to calling myself a writer, that would be a mockery of the word. I'll only call myself a writer when my writing satisfies me. Which means never, I guess.
You mentioned getting a few copies of your NaNo novel printed. Could you describe the printing process as well as what you did with the books afterwards?
The printing process was via createspace, courtesy of NaNoWriMo, so it didn't involve a lot of input from me, actually. There were templates you could pick, book sizes and so on, and covers that you could modify. I got five copies - one for myself which I lend out to a few close friends in Scotland, one that I lent out to my friends in England, one that I sent to my brother ~CobaltDr as the "family copy", one went to my housemate ~ManicMedic who also does NaNoWriMo, and one went to $wreckling, who's endured hours of me telling him all about the story. I really regret sending the book to people, now, it's such a horrible thing. I cringe each time I see it.
Is there something different about having a printed copy of your work, as opposed to just having it on computer? Do you ever handwrite work for that experience?
There's definitely a difference. Apart from powerfully hating all the mistakes and poor grammar that you let through, it just suddenly makes it a bit more real - before, it was just a number of words, now it's a chunky little fellow you're holding in your hands.
I've handwritten a lot back in the days when I had little access to a computer - but it's painful to keep track of what you've written without the CTRL + F function. Plus I move houses and cities every year if not more often, so dragging lots of notebooks around would be rather painful.
So going back to the NaNo thing...what makes you want to do NaNo and keep at it (especially considering the insanity of writing 10k words over the weekend)?
I have no idea. Just doesn't seem right to not do it. Writing 10k words over a weekend is the easy part, actually. Writing 2k words daily when you're working 98 hours a week is much harder.
Do you edit, or have you edited, your NaNo work? Why or why not?
Oh, I certainly do. I edit all my work like a maniac... for the past 18 months anyway. But not during the NaNoWriting, because there's no time for that. Also, once you start editing seriously it's quite hard to write anything - you can't help seeing all the faults in it!
Does knowing you have an audience for your work make you see it differently?
Yeah, it makes me really cringe that so many people are seeing this stuff. But also I guess it makes me feel relieved. The stories I tell have been part of me for a long enough time that they're a big part of me, so being able to share that with people makes me feel better. It's like having a lot of big secrets that you've finally managed to offload.
You mentioned writing because if you don't, it disappears into the 'deep dark abyss.' Why is that a bad thing?
As indicated in my previous reply... my characters mean a lot to me and their stories are often incredible (most of my stories seem to be a competition of how shitty you can make somebody's life before it gets better...), so I'd hate to have them vanish on me.
Any last words of wisdom you'd like to share?
Just that... I think writing isn't like pushing a button and creating a story. Writing is about telling that story that's already inside of you. You have to create it inside of you before you put it down in words. And by this I mean that your characters should be living, breathing, and doing all sorts of inappropriate things in your head before you start putting them in a story. Otherwise you'll only be using them to tell your story... as opposed to writing about their story.
Ode IV.She was a sixty-eight-year-old lady with fluffy grey hair and an old-fashioned nightdress under her white johnny gown. My tutor was her neurologist and that afternoon he asked me to help him out filming some "cool signs". When you're a fourth-year medical student, you're all for cool signs.
My job was not complicated. It involved me holding the camera, pressing a button then keeping my hands steady for three minutes, while my tutor ran the sweet old lady through the neurological exam. I peeked above the camera and spied on the procedure. It was a running joke among my three other colleagues and I who shared the same tutor that he was a brood
Six I.You're never prepared for the pain.
To a twin sisterDear girl,
It took me twenty-two years and a hundred crumpled-up cast-away beginnings of letters to finally write something coherent to you.
I wanted to tell you that I have been in your life from the day you were born, as you have been in mine, and that I do hear your whispers at night when you beg me to reply but, like you, I am trapped on the wrong side of the mirror. I want you to know that I look like you and we have the same eyes of veiled wistfulness and reined-in hope. When you were thirteen and you wondered why your eyes changed from stormy grey to chocolate brown, I wanted to reach out and tell you that you were simply bind