Today I am lucky enough to interview Louisa Deasey, author of A Letter from Paris: A True Story of Hidden Art, Lost Romance and Family Reclaimed:
Are you a daydreamer too?
Yes, sometimes, but I generally pull myself back into line and start writing lists. I wish I could daydream more. I sort of meditate by writing lists…!
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
You know, I never felt like it was a choice. It was just something I’ve always done. When I was at University I originally studied drama, wanting to do acting, but i hated people looking at me (!) and felt such peace and ‘flow’ when i was working on essays about the acting process. So Ijust sort of realised it through that. Since I was about 21, I committed to it, though. I love the learning that comes through writing.
Do you ever use dreams as a source of inspiration?
Not as inspiration, but sometimes dreams provide a necessary clue or key to something I’ve been wondering. I also have had a couple of dreams about dad while I’ve been working on A Letter From Paris, and now his French memoir, that reassure me that I’m on the right track. It’s like a visitation.
Where do you write, and when?
I write in a paper journal every morning, either in bed or in the study first thing, when I’ve just woken up. And then I work on different projects depending on what’s due. I find I have to have a deadline! I jot ideas in my journal for an essay or creative piece or blog post, and I always have to have a notepaper and pen when I’m travelling. I always get ideas when I’m out walking, too. When I’m deeply ensconced in a project, I sort of take over the whole house and don’t do much else. I think for a book-length work, you sort of have to. I’m an all-or-nothing person! I also send a lot of emails. I can’t work creatively with noise and people around me, so I’ve never been a writing in cafes type person. I like the bedroom, safe and warm, with the door closed!
What is your favourite part of writing?
Maybe when you lose track of time. It’s like playing the piano or something – crafting a world or a story out of words, tap-dancing across the page. I also love re-writing. It’s excruciating but the first draft is always bad, but you really get to craft things and make them beautiful when you go back and re-work a piece. That can be so satisfying!
What do you do when you get blocked?
Go to the movies or watch something on Netflix. Visual stories help when I’m all full of words. Walking helps, too.
How do you keep your well of inspiration full?
Nature, cats, music (I love music), laughter, cooking, walking, exercise, planning new projects, and getting enough sleep. Sleep is so important for mojo!
Do you have any rituals that help you to write?
I know this sounds strange, but my cat of 9 years passed away last year and I really don’t think I could have written A Letter From Paris without her companionship in the solitude that writing necessitates. Animals are non-verbal, and sort of encourage you to stay still and inside and all the introversion that books take.
After ten months, we’ve just got another cat, a sweet little rescue cat and I can feel my ideas for books brewing again. Writing can be lonely (just because you need to shut the door and block out the world for hours and days at a time), but cats make it a comforting experience.
I also like to play classical music, light a candle, and generally have 1-2 hot drinks by my side. Peppermint tea and coffee! They’re my rituals.
What do you consider to be good writing?
Anything that allows me to suspend disbelief, teaches me something new, or makes me look at something old in a new way.
What is your advice for someone dreaming of being a writer too?
I don’t think there’s much choice if you really are a writer. But that said, rejection can be tough. You need to do it for some part of you that is resistant to the slings and arrows of criticism. Not everyone will like your writing, but then wonderful people will find you through it, too. Just keep writing. Focus on quantity at first, and then through practice you’ll improve your quality!
What are you working on now?
Bringing my dad’s post-war France memoir (The French Australian Connection) out of the library’s archives as a published book! Click HERE for more information.
See my review of Louisa’s book here: