I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Fleur Blum. Enjoy.
Hello Fleur. Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Fleur, I live in Melbourne, Australia.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing terrible self-indulgent poetry when I was an angsty teen, but I made some changes to my life and my self about a year ago - so I guess about a year.
Ah yes, the teen-angst poetry. I think we've all been there! What first got you interested in writing?
I have always wanted to be better at writing. When I was growing up I felt like I had to pursue things that I was good at and that were employable, but as I’ve started to approach 30 I have realised more and more that I have to do things because they make me happy. I wanted to be a more creative person so I dabbled in many creative pursuits; blogging, writing and photography are the ones that have really stood out for me in the last year.
Do you attend a writing group?
I attend the Boroondara Writers’ Group, I started attending about 6 months ago. I have been to a few others but they were not suitable for me.
Why do you attend a writing group?
I feel like it is important for me to have feedback from someone who is not directly involved in my life. It’s one thing to ask your friends to give you comments but they may not see things the way the general population might. That and it’s a good environment to get inspiration from other people who are in a similar position to you.
What is the most valuable thing you've taken away from your writing group?
My involvement in writing groups has really strengthened my connection with my writing. I feel like I am more confident in my writing, I am constantly surprised by how often people laugh at my comedy.
What genre(s) do you write?
I haven’t really settled on a genre yet, I tend to dabble in whatever feels like a good way to express what I want to say – I have written erotica, poetry, horror/thriller, and I have spent a lot of time on my memoirs.
What types of things do you write?
I write blogs, poetry, mostly short stories and memoir episodes. I am thinking of participating in NaNoWriMo this year to see if I can get something longer out of myself.
Have you ever had anything published?
I have had one short story accepted for publication in a local magazine and I would like to have more published. I feel like I have a way to go in my style and confidence before having something published independently.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from a lot of places. I watch a lot of fantasy type tv shows, I really love Joss Whedon’s stuff, I’m trying to read some of the classics which I never got around to reading, I’ve just read Orlando, by Virginia Woolf and The Trial by Franz Kafka. I also read a lot of authors/artists’ blogs and like to get inspiration from them.
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
Usually they are a version of myself with various things added or subtracted from the character – I have written a story about a woman called Lilly who is me with aspects of a few other friends and with her traits exaggerated.
Do you have a writing routine?
I usually write when I feel like it, sometimes I write when I’m depressed or happy, or when I’m avoiding doing something else, like uni homework or housework.
Ah yes, the old avoidance technique! Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
When I start writing I usually have an idea of what shape the story will take, however sometimes in the writing I realise that that shape doesn’t make sense, or the plot is too simple or too complicated. I definitely start with something but it’s often not what ends up on the page.
Do you have an editing process?
My editing process is a few stages, usually I’ll blurt out as much as I can in the first go, then I’ll read over it and have a play, then I’ll send it to someone to read through, usually my mum, then I have another edit and sometimes I’ll workshop it with the writers’ group.
What would we do without our mums? Mine is my editor too! How important is it for you to share your writing?
It’s extremely important to share my writing but I do have to be careful about the context in which I share it – sometimes if I have written something very personal and very raw and I can only share it with strangers.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
I have entered one or two, but I haven’t any won yet.
Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers?
I used to regularly attend a poetry open mic event but I haven’t been for ages! Slack! I only got up to speak once and I was so nervous, but everyone was very welcoming and encouraging. I really should go back.
You should. It's a great way to showcase your work. What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
Read. Spend at least as much time reading as you do writing. The more you can absorb the better your writing will be. That and be confident, your voice is uniquely yours, don’t try to write someone else’s masterpiece.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Hang in there – find people who are like you and make sure you milk them for all they can give you, be a sponge, look for inspiration in everything you do.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I blog regularly, I enjoy photography and playing/listening to music. I enjoy keeping fit with gym and cycling. I work part time and I am also studying a second degree in Arts.
What types of things do you read?
I try to read all sorts of things, I have a soft spot for Patricia Cornwall although I have her for when I’m laid up in bed with flu, I love the greats, Oscar Wilde and Shakespeare and all those writers out there whose lines are packed full of meaning so densely that you have to read it a bit at a time to really appreciate it.
Do you have any favourite literary quotations?
Wow, there are so many fantastic quotes around. I am quite fond of Moliere at the moment so I’ll take one of his. “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.”
I like that! What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m plugging away at my memoirs, I have to write them a bit at a time because they’re often quite emotionally laden for me. I am also hoping to start working on something longer for NaNoWriMo. I have a 12000 word short story thriller which is currently ‘digesting’ – it needs revisions but I need to think about it for a while.
You mentioned that you enjoy blogging. Can you share the address please?
My blog is dedicated to my creative journey, which includes writing, photography etc http://toearlyretirement.wordpress.com
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
This poem was read out at an open mic event, and I have published it on my blog.
As the clock ticks into tomorrowWe all get up to leaveThe cacophony of laughter abating as we exitThe wait staff breathing a sigh of reliefThat our demands on them are overAnd they can finally close upBut after all the goodbyesThe hugsThe see-you-soons andWe-must-catch-upsThe glorious cuisine,On which we gorged ourselvesBefore the raucous chorus of cocktails had had their way,Is no longer enough for me -I need more, more,I need to satisfy that deep, dirty part of me that cravesMcDonald’sSecretly at midnight on the way home.
© Fleur Blum
Thank you very much Fleur.