Monday, December 12, 2022

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Victoria Mbabazi

Victoria Mbabazi’s work can be found in several literary magazines including The Puritan and Minola Review. Chapbook is available with Anstruther Press and FLIP is available with Knife Fork Book.

1 - How did your first book or chapbook change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?

I really love gimmick. My first chapbook was very easy to write because I had picked a brand as a concept for an annoyance I had with expectations. I love a good laugh and I think when it came to how I approached my next projects I thought at least for now I would like to focus on an overarching concept.

I think chapbook is more external than FLIP. In my second book I get to focus more on my interpersonal relationships which is what I like to write about most. I think chapbook changed my life in a way where I got to do just that.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?

I actually came to fiction first. Well, songwriting and fiction. I really loved telling stories and writing music about my feelings and then when I thought to mix the two of those impulses I started focusing more on poetry.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?

I always think of a sentence first. I write a poem almost everyday. I would say it comes quickly and most of my poems are first drafts.

4 - Where does a poem usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?

I’m a very emotional writer. All of my poems start with a feeling I’m trying to work through. I tend to reuse a lot of words when I’m trying to resolve whatever issue I’m having. I don’t know if a book comes first but I know what to do with some poems when a book comes.

For instance, I’m working on a series of poems based on astrological houses. I started writing about the 12th house first. I noticed that for awhile my poems had been focused on homes as an emotional space and I was able to edit and build those poems to fit this gimmick I wanted for my full length project.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?

I’m very shy. I get overwhelmed easy. I think readings are important and that all of my poems are meant to be read out loud. That all poems are in general. As a musician I appreciate all poems with a musical quality and I’m bored with poems that don’t have them. They don’t counter my creative process but I am afraid of reading a lot of the time lol.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?

I do I think. Right now with my latest project with the zodiac series I’m working on deconstructing and rebuilding a foundation after familial or romantic heartbreak. I think currently the questions I have are about what it means for an ending to be happy or complete. Is it more important for an ending to a toxic cycle to be happy or over.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Do they even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?

I think the role of all writers is to be alive and witness life around you. I think the idea of writing as being solitary and internal is limiting. Look at those and things you love and bother you. Write about them.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?

I think it’s essential and I love being difficult.

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?

Pausing. Stop writing. If you have nothing nice to say nothing at all.

10 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?

I love writing on the train or the bus or in a car or walking or when I have something else to do. Writing for me is always interrupting something else I am doing because whatever it is that I’m doing always makes me want to write.

11 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?

Music and movies.

12 - What fragrance reminds you of home?

Coffee. My dad is addicted to it. When I was younger and I would lean on him he always smelled like it whether or not he was drinking it. When I first drank it I was surprised it didn’t taste as good as it smelled.

12 or 20 (second series) questions;

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