An In Conversation event featuring Jen Craig with Debra Adelaide, was generously hosted by Gleebooks, Dulwich Hill on May 9. Spineless Wonders publishing intern,Nicole Mangura, who helped organise the event, was there to cover the event for The Column.
The discussion, Nicole said, was fascinating and ranged from the inspiration and creative process behind Panthers and the Museum of Fire to Proust to the elegiac nature of lost friendship. Some of the highlights included:
Jen’s thoughts on the composition of her work:“I’m really interested in the idea, well my idea, which is that the experience of writing it is also the experience of reading it. It has to be an experience, I have to feel it and that’s what I’m looking for so in some sense I stretch it, I keep stretching it until I get that shape. It’s probably not the usual way of writing a novel or novella.”
The intertwining of writing and reading was a recurring theme throughout the conversation. Expanding further, Jen said, “this novella is about what it was like for me writing my first book, what I discovered in the writing of that book which was how a certain kind of reading, a certain kind of experience can suddenly explode. It’s trying to understand the effect of other writing on me. Of my own experience of writing on me.”
About fitting writing into her everyday life and getting settled into that creative space, she had this insight to share: ‘I’m always thinking about it but sometimes I don’t feel l’m part of it. I think I just look at it I look at it and think okay, I’ll just read it. Then I’ll see something and I’ll think, I’ll change a word. One word will be a key and it opens something else up. The writing is bound up with the reading, my own reading of my own work.’
On endings: ‘I wrote the ending of the book at the very beginning. In some sense I have to know the whole thing, the end, before I can expand that space’.
She also shed some light on finally letting go of your work. ‘There’s a lot of risk in writing, especially when you finish. The risk of completing a project, making the writing whole, saying this is it. That’s very risky.’
Jen Craig’s novella, Panthers and the Museum of Fire is available here.
Photo credit: Nicole Mangura