I have had many odd experiences in my life; I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer, but that has led to so many other opportunities at the same time – opportunities that I would never even imagined having had if I weren’t involved in writing.
One of the things I’ve been “roped into” (like I would have been forced into the role if I didn’t actually want to do it) is to be an interviewer for Thanet Writers. This is a friendly group of creative sorts in the area I live in – Thanet, unsurprisingly – who decided some time ago to move beyond the remit of a standard writer’s group and become much more about bringing people together, making writers of all strands and types think about their creativity in more vibrant, active ways, and allowing people the freedom to explore their writing in their own ways.
I’ve actually been involved in the group myself for a while now; I was one of their admins for a while, until I realised that the time commitment that was needed wasn’t compatible with what I was able to give. Whilst I enjoyed going to the group meetings, I couldn’t justify the time away from the writing I was doing; given that I only had a specific amount of time I could give to my creativity – as much as it pains me to admit that – I needed to make the most of that, and giving up every Thursday evening was too much for me, sadly, so I lost that regular part of my week, as well as stepping back from the admin side of things as well.
Having said that, it’s lovely to see the group developing and growing off into tangents that I wouldn’t necessarily have expected, but applaud nonetheless. I admire the group for being daring, and if they want to try new things, then so be it. I’m always for seeing if things work, and we have a flourishing scene here in Thanet that can only benefit from increasing the connections between groups, individuals, and types of writer.
One of the things they are doing is running an active Youtube channel, where I was originally going to be their primary interviewer; I’d put myself forward for that role. But like I’ve said, it soon became obvious that I couldn’t give Thanet Writers the time they needed to make it work effectively, so a small group of writers came to the fore and acting as rotating interviewers. To my shame, some of these local writers I didn’t even know about before now, but I am fortunate to have been educated; they are erudite and clever, and I’ve found myself buying some new styles of fiction as a result of following both the interviewers and interviewees.
That said, I do interview some really interesting people; Nigel West, Stefan Gambrell, Mark Holihan, Catherine Law, and Maggie Harris – all of whom have proved to be both remarkably human and beautifully creative in the same breath. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to meet all these people, and I’m beginning to feel that I have a bit of time where I can spend time with those around me again to conduct more interviews. I have a couple lined up in conjunction with Thanet Writers, and am trying to cultivate a couple more.
What is a particularly interesting challenge is my own approach to deadlines. I thrive foremost on living life rather close to the mark; the quote by Douglas Adams, “I love the sound of a deadline as it rushes past” so often applies to me in my creative life. I sometimes don’t feel entirely alive and excited unless I’ve got a deadline breathing down my neck, but I recognise – in a way I didn’t entirely recognise before – that other people don’t work entirely like that. Some people, I am astonished to discover, like to be organised and have their creative work spaced out over a period of time. I like to cram everything into a period of a couple of months, and then play around with my website for a while and write some blogs for a while in a rather genteel kind of way.
That approach rather worries some people, I’ve discovered. Not me!
So I have had to become rather flexible in my approach to my creativity, especially when it comes to collaborating with others; as much as I hope people can tune their antennae to “Radio Munson,” there are times when I need to tune my antennae to “Radio Wider World.” It’s painful, but I make myself do it, and it certainly teaches me how to engage with creative sorts who really have a different view of the world.
So, I am an interviewer for Thanet Writers, and I’ve even delivered a talking heads New Year type programme once upon a time. That was rather fun, although I soon discovered something else about myself; I have the memory of a goldfish. All I can say is that I am eternally grateful for editing equipment; the editor in charge of that particular piece of film deserves a medal of some description, as I couldn’t remember anything more than about thirty seconds ahead of where I was currently speaking. Please bear in mind that it was me that devised the script – loosely called – for this piece of footage, and that makes it even more worrying. Therefore, I had to write up a script that gave me regular reminders, as well as then glancing at it regularly throughout the piece. If you watch the programme, however, you wouldn’t even get the merest hint of that memory lapse, merely some clever camera work that cuts away just at the right moments. Very clever.
So, in the meantime, being an interviewer is rather a lot of fun, I must confess; I never thought this would be something I’d want to do, but now that I’m involved with it, you wouldn’t peel me away from the interviewer’s chair. There’s even talk of having someone interview me at some point, but I’m not convinced; I rather like being the one who’s asking the questions.