14 February 2012

Garret Tour Tuesday: Jen Campbell

Jen Campbell is a writer and bookseller in London. She has published both short stories and poems, including her recent 100 Poem Challenge in which she wrote 100 poems in a weekend to raise money for EEC International. Her first book, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, is set to be released in April 2012. [Ed -- it's so on my list!]

Jen works at London bookstore Ripping Yarns, where she started collecting quotes for Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. "I work between six and seven days a week, so I normally write in the evenings," she says. This writing is mainly done in her kitchen.
"Normally I write at the kitchen table, on my laptop, hidden behind a pile of poetry books. At the moment my boyfriend's doing his LPC and, whilst he revises, I write. We take turns to make pots of tea, and I eat way too much Haribo."
[Ed--This is the kind of charming I will henceforth imagine is quintessential of every British home.]
"At the end of the table is the window out into the garden so I frequently allow myself to be distracted by squirrels trying to pull the bird-feeder out of a tree by the house. At the moment, the garden looks like Narnia."
[Ed--I would also be distracted by Narnia, and any potentially-talking-Squirrels.]
In her kitchen, she can't write with noise--music or talking. However, she has managed to break that environmental restriction in order to be able to write in public situations.
"I once wrote the first draft of a short story on my way back from jury service and looked up to realise I'd missed by tube stop by four stations. To be honest, I think my need for silence to write earlier was mainly procrastination. Making excuses for the fact I wasn't writing. Someone said that being a good writer is 3% talent and 97% not getting distracted by the internet, and I think they were on to something, there!"
One place where there is no distracting internet or work is New Forest, where Jen and her boyfriend spend the occasional weekend.
"We only go there two or three weekends a year, but it always gives me a fresh perspective on what I've written; a change of scenery definitely does my writing good. Going for walks in Wellington boots is therapeutic, too!"
Walks in Wellingtons.
 Currently, Jen has multiple projects in the works.
"I've written about two thirds of a full-length poetry collection exploring mythology, deformity and freakishness. I'm in the very early stages of novel-writing - the part where I'm terrified and thinking about how massive the project is. I realise I need to stop thinking about that and just bloody well write the thing. I've also written a short story collection that's now with my agent, which we'll be sending to publishers soon. At the same time, I'm getting ready for the release of 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' – organising readings and signings and lots of things I've been dreaming about since I was about nine. It's all rather scary - in a good way. Now I've just got to keep on writing, keep trying new things, and not get distracted by too many rogue squirrels."
So Jen is mostly a nighttime, kitchen-table in silence writer, although she can write in public if that's when time arises. She is both distracted by and inspired by nature. Thanks for the tour, Jen!

You can find Jen at her blog this is not the six word novel, where she somehow interviews authors, spotlights bookshops, and posts funny things people say in bookshops...on top of her day job, a book coming out soon, a short story collection to be sent out soon, a poetry collection released a few months ago, and a full-length poetry collection in the works. Perhaps living in the country of Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, and J.R.R. Tolkein (among others too numerous to list here) is extra-inspirational? I expect having Narnia out the back door doesn't hurt either!

Now You!
A lot of people have particular restrictions/distractions that impede their writing--must be on notebook paper, must have green pen, must have no noise, must have music. Are these things that help your writing or are they merely a way of enabling procrastination? Can you overcome them?

Garret Tour Tuesday is a series on the space that writers write in. Each post showcases the writing space of a different writer. To participate, email CallieLeuck[at]CallieLeuck[dot]com