Derbas pic1. What inspired you to write the prose poem/microfiction which will appear in Writing To The Edge?

Exchanges is based loosely on my own experiences. I wanted to convey that awkward time when you must get to know your parent’s new partner, which becomes much more difficult when you don’t share a common language. The story was initially much longer, and I may come back to fleshing out this relationship further.

2. Tell us about your process. (Do you start sparse and widen out, or do you write down every possible association and cut back? Do you research the subject matter you are writing about? Is it pure intuition?) Take us through an example if you want.

I generally just vomit something out for a few days, with a notepad by my side to scribble in as ideas come to mind. The start of something is always much more fun than that inevitable reduction. So, for me it’s basically:

1. Get it all out of my system and scope out the potential for the story’s development.

2. Cut down to only the necessary scenes/actions/events

3. Make every word count

Plus all of the unpredictable stuff that goes on in between.

 3. What advice do you have for other writers? (About the first or last line?  About how to choose the title?  Do you follow any rules?)

Write heaps and heaps and heaps. Get other people to read your stories, writers or otherwise, because that can be a huge help. Other than that I don’t know that I’m super qualified to be dishing out advice- I’m no success story…yet 😉 😉

4. Who or what inspires your writing?

Family and friends, strangers on the street, trees and plants, animals, films, photographs, the news and of course other stories. Honestly, anything can be an inspiration. It often just takes the right combination of things happening in my life to be the beginnings of a story.

5. Tell us what you do if you haven’t written anything in a while and you want to get started writing again? Could you share your favourite writing exercise with our readers?

Overheard conversations on the train can be hugely inspiring. Write a story about the people talking, how they know each other, using the topic of conversation as a starting point.

I also write every vaguely interesting thing that I see or hear in a diary. This can become overwhelming. I just have a bunch of one liners scattered through this notebook, and sometimes I return to a line and I have no idea what the heck I was talking about. But I will usually find a little point to base a whole story or poem off. And this often happens months after I first wrote the idea down.

WTTE-frtAlexia Derbas is a twenty-two year old writer from Sydney. She has a Bachelor of Media and Communications, majoring in Writing and Cultural Studies. This will be her first published piece of fiction.