This week we talk to Venita Munir about ‘Time To Leave’ which appears in Time, the latest Microlit anthology edited by Cassandra Atherton and published in 2018 by Spineless Wonders. In this interview, Venita talks about her approach to writing microlit, what she is reading right now and her favourite time of year for putting pen to paper.
1. Tell us about the inspiration behind your microlit for the Time anthology.
I’m interested in obsession for a longer manuscript I’m writing – the continuum of interest to obsession to mental illness. This story has some elements of truth, but is a fictional exaggeration.
2. When it comes to microlit, do you generally start wide and then cut down or do you always plan to write a particular piece as microlit?
I’ve done both. Generally these microlit pieces have come from a writing prompt or a sudden idea. Then when a microlit competition has turned up, if one of my pieces fits a theme, I’ve honed it right down. It’s always easier to write long and pare back. I love sparse writing so it suits me to try* to get the most impact from few words. (*Emphasise ‘try’!)
I read every night before I go to sleep – it’s my tranquiliser – and I try to read during the day when I can, like on public transport. Often that’s the paper, or work related stuff, or social media. Reading a novel during the day seems to be a holiday luxury. When I’m in a groove of writing I’ll try to write every day. This year hasn’t been so easy, and I’ve been working in medical writing, which means the creative writing has suffered.
I wrote madly from January to March completing a fiction manuscript, then the most I’ve written since has been while on writing retreats. I was lucky to go to Varuna for a week in August; I’d just lost my mother, but I was surrounded by the incredible national park and inspiring people and it was good for my soul.
I also have the extreme pleasure of an amazing writing group, women I met through RMIT’s Professional Writing and Editing program. We don’t meet regularly but have managed four weekend retreats which we model on Varuna’s ethos, to spend the time writing strictly until the evening. It’s so inspiring and the camaraderie is brilliant.
At the moment I’m reading ‘The Crying Place’ by Lia Hills which has intoxicating prose and is set in Central Australia, right up my alley.
I’ve read a few friends’ books this year, namely ‘Stone Circle’ by Kate Murdoch, ‘The Burning Elephant’ by Christopher Raja, ‘Hello Goodbye’ by Emily Brewin, ‘Death by Dim Sim’ by Sarah Vincent and ‘Wimmera’ by Mark Brandi, all of which were great. I’m so proud of my clever, creative and literate friends.
My favourite book of 2017 was ‘Hope Farm’ by Peggy Frew. It was captivating and so well-written.
4. What is your favourite season? Do you prefer to write in winter or summer and why?
That’s a difficult question. In Melbourne, I think my favourite season is autumn, when the days are still warm and long, but the sunlight starts to alter – lengthen and wane – the trees change colour and mushrooms pop up. It’s such a nice time of the year to be outside.
I think winter is better for writing, only because I want to be lazing at the beach in summer. Winter is more conducive to being inside, either at home, or a library, with a hot drink, a blanket, a wheat pack, whatever. Last summer I was finishing a manuscript so I was writing every day, even when we went to Bali in January; I’d set myself a daily word target so it was bit like hard work! Now I’ve started a new manuscript but after losing Mum, I’ve been trying not to be too hard on myself, so it’s a slow burn.
VENITA MUNIR is a Melbourne writer, editor and doctor. She has published microlit, short stories and music reviews, and her first novel manuscript was a finalist in the 2016 HARDCOPY program for fiction.