Natasha Dutton [natashad]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
My first real story that I read was a school book, Child in darkness, but unfortunately I cant remember the Author's name. From then on I was totally hooked on literacy. It gave me the freedom to realise my child-fantasies in more ways than one.
I started writing when I had a crush on one of the boys in my school. It was totally nonsense poetry then, but it gave me the opening I wanted and today I can write about themes and subjects more realistically.
The first one to read my poetry and short stories? Goodness, my first poem I read to my Afrikaans Teacher, Ms Visser, but she said I lied about writing it, so I stopped and afterwards the boy I had a crush on had the privilege to read my first poems all dedicated to him. It was so embarrassing, but looking back I'm proud that it didnt stop me from writing some more.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
Here is the site to my work.
Unfortunately i only write in afrikaans. But it's an amazing site for afrikaans, and I've learned a great deal since I've registered 2 years back.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Mostly my work finds me and not the other way around. Sitting in a Mall, something will trigger my creativity and then I'll grab the nearest naplin or slip and write it down.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Your whole concept (idea) needs to be refreshing. Copying from previous authors are boring. I love the characterizing, to bring my thoughts to life. Mix with this some intrique, pain, love, realism and you've got yourself a winner story.
Sometimes it all depends on what you are writing. I try to let my creative side write it and then I go back for spelling, grammar, making it more realistic or less dramatic.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I'd like to think so. It depends on the crowd, really. When I'm at a formal do I tend to fade in the shadows, but with friends or a lively bunch I can't help entertaining them with hundreds of my stories.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I think I write for myself and the people in "my world". Paper is the one thing that will never critisize, it's a means of getting a lesson over to other people without being in the centre stage. They never question your reasons, your ability and in an odd way, you get to help dozens of people without even trying too hard. I write because it's the only way for my to keep my sanity.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Absolutely. Since I've started writing on www.woes.co.za and people started to comment on my work, I have found that there is a lot of room for improvement and that helped me to grow both as a writer and as a person. It's important to get feed-back and even to be critisized. It keeps your feet on mother earth, where it's suppose to be.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I've participated in poetry competitions and have been published but this year was the first year that I received an award. It's humbling, really, and it makes you proud to be able to communicate to the world what is going on in your heart and in your head.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Yes I do. There is always room for improvement and because the author knows the story, we tend to miss small details that a practised eye will catch on to. I have three or four people who I trust with my work. If they suggest I change a sentence, a paragraph or even a chapter I wouldn't think anything of it.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I'm terrible with schedules, maybe because it's not a full time job. When the inspiration hits I'll sit in front of the pc the whole day. Sometimes I write for an hour and then get demotivated.
My first goal was to get published. That goal I achieved, now my aim is to grow some more and who knows what will happen. A lot of people think that I write to get rich, to be honest I dont. I write because I cant help it. I love telling stories, writing meaningfull poems and being heard.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
I always play music, depending on the story this can vary from soft, classical music to metal or rock. Then either some cola or coffee, a jug of water and my cigarettes.
As soon as my eyes glue to that screen the world can fall apart and I wont notice it. I switch off completely. Only when my chain of thought is over will get a reality check, or my dogs will start demanding some attention.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I prefer to write and not to type everything on the pc. Normally I have a book for my poems and then a book for every story I plan on writing. After I have finished each chapter I start to type it onto the computer and then I also correct some of it. I'll make copies of the chapters and while reading, work on corrections in either green or red ink. When the whole book is finished I'll give myself a gap and rest. When 2 months have lapsed I revisit the story and complete the final touches and after that, it's of to the publishers.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
We, afrikaans people, have a online community. I've learned a lot from the forum as well as woes.co.za
We exchange ideas, help each other with some mistakes and do research to help others to grow more into the milieu.
What has been your experience with publishers?
How can I put it? They are very demanding.
Once I started working with them I realised being a writer is hard work. For my first book I used selfpublishing and I must admit I'm very impressed on how they worked, from start to finish. I haven't had a second's problems. For my next project I will try other publishers and see what happens. They are very strict and you need to be exceptionally good to even be considered.
What are you working on now?
I'm busy with my third book called "Kersvlam in haar oë". If all goes well I will be able to send her to the publishers early in the new year. Then as a side line I try to write a poem a day, but time does not always allow it.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
I suggest you start showing it to, say for example, your best friend. Start to randomly put it on facebook and see what people think about it (poems). Send it to your old language teacher. Take it out of its file/box, reread it and make some changes. You'll never know unless you try. It's always depressing when people turn you down, make fun of your work or just put you down. Dont let it demotivate you, get up there and try again. Not all of the famous writers started on a high, all of them have some manuscripts that they'll never dare show the media. Just get out there and do it.
Pretoria- South Africa