The most common questions strangers ask after "And what do YOU do...?" or when they're interested in writing. Not because I feel especially qualified to give advice, but because I'm asked for it, and searching for answers is something I can certainly relate to...
How did you start writing?
How do I start writing?
Where do your ideas come from?
What makes someone a writer?
Do writers just write about their own lives?
Do you need personal experience to write about something?
How do you know when something you’re writing is really finished?
Do you self-publish / crowdfund your writing? Everyone does now, don’t they?
I want to self-publish / crowdfund my book, can you help me?
What kinds of books / stories / culture do you enjoy?
What else are you good at doing?
Not much, although my post-30 revelation that it might be emotionally healthy to try something else led to a love of running and horses. Like Vonny in my WIP, I built small websites and kept blogs throughout my late teens and twenties, although, unlike her, mine were generally more devoted to quoting song lyrics than looking for gainful employment. I can sing but not play or write songs, I don’t take drugs and I like getting paid to work, which doesn’t get you far in the music industry. Or in music journalism for that matter, although I got far enough there to make the shortlist for Chief Sub at Record Collector magazine at 24; and for The Quietus to let me commemorate 20 years since one of my all-time favourite singers released her debut album. If I wasn’t a writer with opinions and a Twitter account, I’d probably be a detective or a spy, or do deep dive investigative journalism.
What kinds of work have you done other than writing and journalism?
“Other work includes”: Being a learning support assistant to children with speech and language needs. Cleaning floors and bathrooms on location for a TV production company. Stuffing envelopes at a tobacco requisites firm. Volunteering in charity shops. Data entry. Babysitting and cat-sitting. Brief, inept youthful stints in retail and call centres. Basically the usual recession jobs made up of grouchy weekend DJs, and people either saving up to emigrate or wishing they hadn’t. Including my first job out of university, which was awful but inadvertently led me to lots of lovely people.
Did you write about Dyspraxia for the Guardian?
Why do you have three names?
What would you do with unlimited time and money?
Travel the world collecting anecdotes, lipsticks and PhDs.