Hello everyone! The first interview for the Foster Your Writing blog is here! From The World’s Worst Writer blog, here is Levi Lewicki.
1) What does writing mean to you? What do you think the purpose of writing is?
For me personally, writing is a way to turn the stories, ideas, and scenes I see in my head into a reality, something tangible that I can revisit or share with other people. It’s one of the purest ways I can think of to truly capture your thoughts and feelings and let them be understood. I’ve often been far too shy to properly communicate with people when talking to them, but when writing, there’s this exciting freedom of being able to play around with words, and it allows me to express myself (or a character) more accurately and honestly. For that reason, writing is something that has brought me a lot of comfort.
It’s hard to assign one purpose to writing, and it’s probably different for everyone, but to me, it’s definitely all about the stories-taking these abstract things called ideas out of your mind, and bringing them to life with words!
2) What particular genre do you write in? Why are you passionate about that genre?
This is a difficult one for me because I’ve got ideas for books in many different genres. The first one I finished writing was a horror story-which is a genre that I really had no experience with and never expected to be doing (though I love it now)-and the one I’m likely going to be working on next is a road trip drama, which is quite the shift! Out of all of my upcoming stories, I’ve got a few sci-fi ones, a few adventure ones, two more horrors, a superhero/crime one, and a couple of dramas, so I like to change it up often! But one thing that links almost all of them together is the fantasy genre. Purely by chance, 13 out of 15 of my current ideas are for fantasy stories-it just seems to be what I gravitate to. The other 2 ideas aren’t fantastical exactly, but they aren’t particularly realistic either!
Although I didn’t deliberately set out for it to be that way, I think I enjoy writing fantasy so much because of the complete freedom it allows you. You can create your own rules, and make creative decisions purely based on what’s best for the story, rather than having to consider whether something is realistically possible or not. I know some people prefer historical or scientific accuracy, and they enjoy researching things before writing a book, but the thought of doing that nearly gives me a migraine! I do admire those who can do that research and make things accurate (because I know I couldn’t!) but for me personally, I feel really stifled when I have to stick to real life, so I prefer to accept and admit that my projects will almost always be quite unrealistic!
3) What does being a writer mean to you?
I think being able to call yourself a writer feels so empowering because it’s something you can be without any qualifications or exams-there’s no certificate, no entry bar or gatekeeping. All you need is an idea, and a way to put it into words. For someone like me who fled the school system earlier than I was supposed to (with almost no qualifications!), to be able to call myself a title I can be proud of like ‘writer’, eases a lot of the embarrassment and shame I had about that in the past. Even if nothing I make ever gets published traditionally, just the fact that I finished a manuscript has given me so much more confidence in myself.
4) Where and how do you find inspiration?
This is another one that differs for me depending on the idea. But one thing is for sure, it’s always by chance! I’ve never sat down and specifically tried to come up with something. For example, the idea which really convinced me to give writing a go came to me on a bus journey. There had been a disruption on the usual road, and so the driver was forced to take an alternative route. It was the middle of summer, the air was hazy, and we were on a little country road through these wonderful hills. I was staring out the window, listening to music, when all of a sudden I was seeing the hills as part of a different world and the shape of the thin clouds looked like a structure in the sky, and in the span of a few seconds, I had a story!
I think there’s something so special about the random nature of it. If that road hadn’t been blocked, if the driver had picked a different road, or if the right music hadn’t been playing, I would never have had the idea that pushed me to become a writer!
Speaking of music, that’s another place inspiration comes from for me. For any scene, in any of my book ideas, I could tell you the song that would be playing in the background (and which plays in my head every time I imagine it). Any time I start a new project, I inevitably end up with a playlist of songs that just capture the feelings of it perfectly-to me, music and writing are completely intertwined.
For one last thing about inspiration (before I talk your ear off about music), a lot of my newer ideas have appeared to me in dreams, or rather, nightmares! The horror story I finished, ‘Ember’, was one of those. I awoke from the most terrible dream I’d ever had, feeling ill from the uncanny scariness of it, and immediately thought “hey, that was so disturbing I feel sick… write that down!”
5) What are some of the challenges you face as a writer and how do you combat them when you sit down to write or even just prepare to write?
I’m very lucky to say that I’ve only ever had one challenge during my time writing. I’ve done my fair share of procrastinating and occasionally gotten lost in the middle of a sentence, but really the only big hurdle I’ve ever had to get over was the crushing fear that my writing was bad. Or that people would hate it. Or that I didn’t have the right to be doing it in the first place. But I’m very glad to say that I managed to stop those thoughts.
On my blog I’ve often talked about my love for ‘bad’ things, which, strangely enough, is actually how I was able to banish those worries. Although it’s not exactly a genre, my favourite type of films are the ones that are considered to be some of the worst of all time. The Room (my ultimate favourite), Battlefield Earth, The Apple, Batman & Robin, or anything by Neil Breen, for example. A lot of people enjoy ‘bad’ films, or books, or art ironically, but when I watch those movies I mentioned, I’m not laughing at them, I’m just genuinely enjoying them. When I started to understand that more, that I found such immense joy in these things that other people might think are terrible, I began to realise that I didn’t mind what anyone thought of my own work. What I appreciate most about a film like The Room or The Apple, is that they were made with such sincerity, honesty, and a genuine desire to make exactly what the creator envisioned, regardless of critical or public opinion. It takes real guts to put yourself out there like that-sharing our innermost ideas can make us feel genuinely vulnerable, and I think sometimes people use irony or self-aware humour as a bit of a shield, in fear of being mocked. I look at the way Tommy Wiseau has responded to the varied reactions to The Room, and it inspires me to truly stop fretting about what others may or may not think.
To quote Lewis Schoenbrun, the director of The Amazing Bulk (quite possibly the ‘worst’ film ever) “I welcome all comments, good and bad!”
6) Where can we find some of your writing?
At the moment, the best place would be my blog page or website page. I’m in the process of setting up sort of profiles for each of my upcoming book ideas, which are going to include a blurb and a little excerpt from each one. I put off including the excerpts for a while because it was so hard to choose just one passage that would (hopefully) get people interested without giving too much away, but I definitely will get on it!
Although I finished my first story, ‘Ember’ late last year, I haven’t looked too much into publishing yet because I’m still combing through it and finishing up the editing to try and get it exactly the way I want it. However, once that’s done, I’m going to make a proper attempt to actually get it published, but if it doesn’t work out, I’d definitely see about self-publishing. So either way, I’m going to get it out there, and everyone will be able to get a taste of my world’s worst writing…
7) Where can we reach you?
I’m always available on my blog or website, so that’s the best place to catch me. Even when there’s long gaps between posts where it looks like I’m inactive, I always have my notifications on, and so I do still see comments!
8) What are some interesting facts about you?
I can’t promise these will be exactly interesting! But to start with, as I mentioned earlier, I love music-too much of it to name, but a few of my favourite artists are SHINee, Taemin, Matisse & Sadko, Muse, and Rod Stewart. I also enjoy drawing and painting, cross stitch, photography, and creating music as well as listening to it.
My favourite spice is smoked paprika, closely followed by fennel seeds. My favourite vegetable is the onion, with garlic in second (is garlic a vegetable?), and my favourite cheese is Parmesan-though at £3.25 per block, it’s a luxury item! Speaking of vegetables, I like gardening, and despite living in a tiny seaside village in Scotland that gets almost no sun, I grow tomatoes every year. They never ripen properly, but I don’t mind, because you can make a cracking chutney out of the green ones.
Digging a bit deeper for something more interesting, I love dancing, and I competed as a Highland dancer for about a year before I realised I had a terrible phobia of performing in front of people. Maybe that’s just more sad than interesting though!
On a happier note, I adore birds, and I started feeding them in the back garden last year. At first there were just a few, but they must’ve told their friends and given my bird food a 5 star review, because now I have well over 100 that come every day to enjoy some wormies, seeds or nuts.
Finally, and probably the coolest one, is that I once had a pet shrimp that lived to be just over 8 years old. Mind you, I can’t take credit for that, it was Shrimpy that did all the work.