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Michelene Wandor Interview

Posted on 09 February 2007. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to playwright, radio writer and editor Michelene Wandor about her work.

Tell us something about your background.

My writing background is, I realise, very varied. When I began writing seriously, and earning my living from writing, I was reviewing (theatre, poetry, film), writing plays, writing poetry, and, after a few years, I began writing short stories. I’ve been writing for radio for over twenty-five years. I’ve just finished a book about the history of creative writing in the UK, called ‘The Author is not Dead, Merely Somewhere Else: Creative Writing after Theory’, to be published in 2007, and I’m finishing a Classic Serial for Radio 4. I have also written two books about contemporary theatre.

I’ve edited a number of books – including the first four ‘Plays by Women’ series, published by Methuen, and a collection about writing and gender. I find the process interesting – putting together a collection of diverse views and writings, and then patting them into some sort of coherent shape.

How did you start writing?

I first started writing at the end of the 1960s – so I’ve been going for a long time! It was relatively easy (compared with now) then and in the early 1970s to get published, have plays put on, etc. I started earning immediately, and have always earned my living from writing – that’s a very large part of why I continue. It is my profession, it’s what I know how to do, though each piece of writing is always a new venture.


Who are your favourite writers and why?

I don’t really think of ‘influences’. I return to 17th century writing, for all sorts of reasons; my most recent enthusiasm is the work of Philip Pullman, a late twentieth-century landmark! I tend to go for writing which is very different from my own, so I am not sure I would be able to trace influences easily. That’s for other people to do.

How did you get your first agent/ commission?

My first radio commission came about after I had written a radio play and sent it in on spec; it was bought, went well, and after that everything has been commissioned. Apart from poetry and the occasional short story, everything I write is commissioned.

What's the worst thing about writing?

Having to ‘audition’ for each new commission; it’s also worth remembering that there is an enormous amount of admin work attached to being a writer. It sometimes feels as though too much time goes on this admin, before one can actually get down to the writing itself. But that goes with the territory. The insecurity is absolutely the worst thing.

And the best?

Finishing a piece of work; knowing it has gone as far as it can, and the times when people enjoy/like what I have written.



A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.






Comments by other Members



EmmaD at 12:00 on 13 February 2007  Report this post
Thanks for a fascinating interview. And I'll be pouncing on the history of creative writing when it comes out.

It's always inspiring to meet a writer doing working at Michelene's level who still regards herself as a journeyman. Too often it seems writers are divided into tortured literary artistes, and practical, commercially-minded hacks. Of course, actually, we all have elements of both.

Emma


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