WARNING: as always with my interviews, I am biased, but this time I am biased even more, I am biased to the nines, I am biased times two. I met Amelia last year when we did Unravelling together, but we really hooked up at the beginning of this year, when she passed me on to her dad for some admin work he required. Her dad, Professor Critchlow, is so unbelievably kind, down to earth and amiable that Amelia herself immediately 'made sense', if you get my drift (gosh, I feel like speaking in clichés today... bring them on!).
Amelia is an artist whose online showcase is rich and multi-faceted. From textile to paper-based work, from 3D models to little cute labels, she moves into a creative land filled with joy and self-expression and often punctured by little lost creative sheep whom she inspires weekly. If you too are the sort of blog-reader who follows link after link late at night, wondering why on earth not trying that and that and that as well, then you'll find plenty to coax you into art at Amelia's place. Today she answers my questions about her writing identity because... wouldn't it be interesting to know how a visual artist approaches her writing? Let's see, shall we?
What is your idea of perfect writing?
My idea of perfect writing is something that is 'different' from the norm. Something that is written from the heart, and something that encourages one to think. I enjoy works such as E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful. I do find myself reading a lot of non-fiction.
What is your greatest writing fear?
I haven't thought about this much, but one fear would be that I lose a sense of who I am and try to 'be' like everyone else. Or what is deemed popular writing, therefore losing the essence of what my writing is about.
What do you consider your greatest writing achievement?
My greatest writing achievement right now is probably blogging, because it involves regularly coming up with written matter that will interest others. Knowing also that no-else is editing or suggesting. You have simply to rely on your own copyright, editing and content-writing skills. It is a real commitment, I realise, as I come close to a year of blogging now! In the past, I helped edit and copyright a published novel and wrote a thesis for my English degree on my favourite novelists. I also helped putting together a research paper for the NHS on the effect of healthcare buildings on health (a few years back!).
My greatest writing achievement right now is to have written the entire content of my Experimental Art e-Course. Although I have written courses for art projects, writing six weeks of content for people to remain interested and focused has been a big achievement.
What is the writing tendency you most deplore in yourself?
I don't know if I deplore it, but I am a perfectionist and will go over and over and over what I have written, even if it's an email sometimes (driving myself a little mad!). And I can err towards writing too much and also repeating myself often in different ways – ahem!
Which living writer do you most admire?
In terms of fictional writing I think Toni Morrison is one of the most powerful and evocative writers of our times. When I did The Bluest Eye for one of my English exams many years ago at school, I was completely blown away by her style of writing, not to mention her subject matter. It started years of reader her works and finally writing a dissertation on some of her works for my English degree a few years later.
What is your greatest writing extravagance?
My greatest writing extravagance is probably buying books that inspire me on a regular basis. My house is filling up with them. Soon, there will be nowhere to put them.
What is the quality you most admire in somebody else's writing?
Honesty; truth; originality; radical-thinking; thought-provoking ideas; suggestions for a positive and different life from the one that we live today...
What or who is your greatest writing love?
At the moment I am really, really into the writings, thoughts and ideas of Keri Smith, to be found both on her blog and also in her books, particularly Living Out Loud and The Guerrilla Art Kit. Such simple ideas, no excess of words, and yet the thoughts and writings have a really radical flavour.
When and where were you happiest with your writing?
Gosh, this takes me back. Yes, I used to love writing. I would create books and do the illustrations. I remember telling my English teacher at school that one day she would see my name in print. I think my best writing came late at night whilst ensconce in my room (I didn't have to share), with all my favourite things around me, filling my imagination. Later in life I would find myself reading philosophical books and making 'thought writings' in endless books, or trying to scribble my memoirs (at such a young age!).
If you could change one thing about your writing, what would it be?
I would like to change my writing so that it is more punchy and straight to the point at times.
What is the most marked characteristic of your writing?
Gosh, you know what I don't know! You could probably tell me better! :-)
Who are your writing heroes?
My writing heroes in terms of novel-writing would have to be Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and AliceWalker. In terms of non-fiction, probably Keri Smith and Neale Donald Walsch. I also like the writings of Lucy Lippard. When it comes to art, I am currently reading Susan Sontag, and also Virginia Woolf.
How do you hope your writing will be referred to as long after you've gone?
Something that invited a person to pause for thought, even if it was just for one moment.
What is your writing motto?
Now it would be: do what comes naturally. Let it fly out and hopefully there will be your own voice within that is interesting and comes from the heart. Not very technical but university was a long time ago and, to be honest, I came away thinking I was more crap than good at the old 'English' thing and yet, years later, as I have followed my heart and done my own thing and written as I wanted to write, I have had more positive feedback. Formal education eh?!