A while back I introduced my idea of interviewing every 1000th person who posted a comment on my blog. Several weeks ago, a lovely writer from South Africa, Michelle Wallace, fit the bill with her comment…the 6000th! Michelle is a musician and writer of prose that has a poetic ring to it. I hope you will enjoy my interview with her and pay a visit to her blog at: http://writer-in-transit.co.za/
Michelle, your “About” page that tells us what we want to know of the writer in you seems a bit ambiguous. Would you be willing to add a few personal details to help us understand “Michelle, the Writer” and her work?
As a reader, I’ve always loved the mystery/suspense/thriller genre. I imagined that, as a writer, that would be the genre that I would stick to. So most of my response to writing challenges/prompts is written from that angle. As a writer I have short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. Short and medium termed goals are participating in shorter writing challenges to keep the “mental writing muscles” in shape. Examples of this would be the weekly drabble challenge that I write and the Bluebell Short Story Slam prompt. At some stage, I would love to enter some of my work into a competition , but I need to check out the various competition sites out there and the costs involved.
My long term goal is to complete a novel. This might take me 2 years, 5 years or 10 years…who knows…but it is in the pipe line.
You co-hosted an “Edutainment” program recently. Would you explain to the readers exactly what that is and what your role involved.
The edutainment programme is a combination of educational + entertainment, a relaxed and fun way in which to educate children. It’s actually a kiddies show, aimed at kids between 4 and 12 years old, where the basic form is story-telling. This time the story was Jonah and the Whale (based on the biblical story but adapted to suit children from any religious affiliation)
Because the little ones have a short attention span various activities are added to the show to make it interesting and hold their attention. The activities are interwoven into the script and include paper crafting , colouring-in with crayons, singing and dancing. And certain lessons are highlighted throughout the show using these various activities. Each child received a programme in the form of a colouring book with pictures of Jonah trying to run away and the whale swallowing him etc. We allowed them to choose 1 picture to colour in. Then we asked all the kids to raise their books in the air for all to see. My co-host and I also completed all the activities with the kids. Then we used our colouring-in attempts to teach certain lessons. For example, I pointed out that my co-host didn’t colour in too well (He used strange colours and did it untidily) But it didn’t matter because God loves us all no matter which colours we used. God designed us and he coloured us in using a variety of colours.
In the story Jonah also tried to run away from God. We asked the kids questions such as: can you run away from God? Why not? We did songs and a dance based on obedience to God and to parents, respect for people who are different because we are all God’s creation etc. God designed us, he coloured us in just like you coloured your pictures in and chose your own colours. (My post http://writer-in-transit.co.za/wrap/ has more info.)
In an article about that program, you are described in these words: “Michelle Wallace a music educator / entertainer / piano tutor / musical performer.” How does your music career affect your writing?
Music is a great source of inspiration. I think most bloggers/writers/poets would agree with me on this one ! I actually have a wide taste in music from soul, pop, classical, opera, crossover, rock, hip-hop, jazz, latino music all the way from the 60’s to present day music. Different styles/genres of music evoke different moods which influences one’s writing in different ways. I do think that classical music is an excellent source of inspiration, though.
I notice you participate in writing challenges. Which are your favorites? Where else do you turn for inspiration?
I love the drabble which was my first attempt at fiction writing just under 11 months ago. It involves writing a piece in about 100 words on a given prompt. If you check the side-bar of my blog I have dedicated a sub-category to the drabbles. I’m proud to say that I haven’t missed a single one since I started writing fiction. I also enjoy the Bluebell SSS.
My new-found source of inspiration is the hand-written letter programme that I have decided to participate in. It involves exchanging hand-written letters with a “pen-pal”. This is something I thoroughly enjoyed during my teen years. The pen-pal includes writing challenges in the letter, which have to be completed before the recipient reads the actual letter. I discovered this through another blogger friend who attended a writing workshop based on unleashing creativity through the art of the hand-written letter. This is still a fairly new venture but it seems promising. I suppose it depends on whether you are the type of writer who prefers to write by hand. I have 2 different posts on this programme: http://writer-in-transit.co.za/hand-written/ and http://writer-in-transit.co.za/letter-1/
You have a preference for prose, both short fiction and non-fiction. Have you ever tried poetry? Why or why not? Do you read poetry?
I have attempted one poetry piece on my blog–the first Bluebell Short Story Slam prompt. I haven’t written any other poems on my blog.
I looove poetry !! I read Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Frost etc. and modern poets as well. And I love reading the poetry written by the talented Bluebell participants ! I think that because I’m concentrating on fiction, I’ve neglected the poetry aspect of creative writing. It’s not a conscious decision–I certainly didn’t plan it that way; it just evolved.
You write to us from Africa .Has the international flavor of our blogging communities changed your views in any way?
I’ve learned a lot from the international blogging communities and I’m still learning every day. For example, I’m still in the dark with regards to the Kindle. And e-books? But I think that is because I’m from a different era (I’m a 60’s baby) and having a partially-technologically-challenged brain doesn’t help LOL ! I only learned about twitter recently and I’m still in the dark about Facebook. I learned to post my first YouTube clip within the past month. Now that should tell you.
When you’re not writing or blogging or making music, how do you spend your time?
My entire life revolves around music! I teach music and train the school choir on a part-time basis at a local primary school for 2 days. On the weekends my husband and I sing in our band where we perform at local restaurants/venues. We also play at different functions such as weddings, anniversaries, parties, corporate functions, conferences etc.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Michelle Wallace and/or your blog, Writer-in-Transit?
I’d like to extend the invitation to any bloggers/writers who might be interested in the letter-writing experiment, to check it out and mail me at my e-mail address which is on my blog and we can take it from there .
Writer-in-transit is about the writing journey. To me, the journey never ends and it is the most important thing. As bloggers/poets/writers we are all part of this amazing writing adventure as we support and influence one another. The destination is simply a bonus!
Thank you, Michelle, for helping us get to know you and your work a little better.