So tell me how you write, you writers - on the wild moorside? in the heart
of the mean city? from deep within your tweedcovered chairs? I'd like to
know... Here's a short e-questionnaire - behind the normal jokinesses
which you'd expect are serious questions which I'd value your thoughts on,
which may help others, and which, in due course, may contribute to the
issues under review at the SVP colloquium. Answer front-channel, to the
list, if you want to stimulate further discussion; backchannel to me if
you're bashful but want to contribute to the zeitgeist. The questions are
deliberately open to your interpretation, and Candidates May Choose To
Answer all or none of the questions, or indeed answer other questions of
their own making. Here goes:
1. Do you write daily?___ weekly?___ irregularly?___ Is the writing a
fixed part of routine, or does it follow other pressures/dictates? Please
2. These days do you write in the same place e.g. in the kitchen/bathroom
etc; on the bus to work? Is the workplace in any sense a protected space?
3. Drafting: notebooks, scraps of paper, word processor or what?
3a. How are drafts organised - in linear/sequential mode, or in a more
complex structure? Please describe:
3b-e. Why? How long has it taken this practice to evolve? Are you
consistent in this? How aware are you of other writers' strategies in this
4. A route-to-work question: what, in general terms, is the relationship
between draft and completion?
4a. Does your motivation/intent change during this process? If so can you
say how? An example might help.
4b. What do you mean by "completion"?
5. Input: is there a way of generalising your raw materials? Are there,
for instance, groups of books, musics, other artworks, or people in your
life, which you plunder repeatedly? Name the most significant:
5a. What conditions input? Weather? Nation? the Sports pages? Rejection of
all of these?
6. How open to mistakes are you? What steps do you take to encourage or
7. Roadtesting your writing: on a few friends? at readings? read to the
cat? leave in a drawer for 6 weeks? Not at all?
7a. Does this process transform the work? If so how?
8. Do you have lots of pieces of work on the go at the same time? Are they
separate or all part of the same fabric? Or do you work methodically at
one piece, then the next, then the next? Or in none of these ways? Please
9. How do you plan/prepare for performance? To what extent is this
incorporated in the drafting? Is performance a fixed point in your intent?
10. Are you obsessive about the practices you've described? Or could
you stop and do something else?