Friday Nov 24

PotterMatt Matt Potter is an Australian-born writer who lives between Australia and  Germany (particularly Berlin), perhaps following the summer. Matt has been published in The Glass Coin, fwriction: review and A-Minor, with stories coming out soon at Magnolia's Press, Used Furniture Review and Gloom Cupboard. He is a regular contributor to 52/250, A Year of Flash and the blog carnival Language Place. He is a less frequent contributor to F3, Flash Fiction Friday. Find more of his work at his website writing, and then some. Matt is the founding editor of Pure Slush.

Matt Potter interview with Meg Tuite

Do you have a writing schedule you adhere to and/or any tricks you might want to share with your readers?

I write when there are deadlines. I write when inspiration hits. I try not to force it too much now because that is boring and frustrating and painful. So I ride any lack of writing productivity out. I try to go with it, wait, and not feel too guilty or frustrated I am not achieving anything. Yes, the world - even mine - is still turning. I do something else creative, like take my step-grandchildren out for ice cream. Or do the dishes. Or plan ... something. Though I do have a Great opening lines file on my laptop. I could come up with funny opening lines all day. Really, I should be in advertising but I also think advertising is silly.

Writing in the first person is always more immediate. I have been known, on more than a few occasions, to choose NOT to read a book because it was written in the third person. I am also waiting for that elusive book written in the second person. Or maybe the first person plural.

For years it seemed my writing creativity was stuck - not helped by often working in publicity and promotions where I wrote a lot for a living - and then I started to write for children and did it on paper. Now I don't find the computer difficult at all but for years it was too often daunting. And paper works. I still do it sometimes, though usually, except for short trips to the shop, I have my laptop with me. But I make notes in a notebook, which I always have with me.

What book are you reading at this time?

None. Sadly. Shocking but true. Pick your jaw up off the floor. I think I have given up for the moment. The last book I read completely was a book of interviews with François Truffaut, in October 2010, which was a struggle though I forced myself. I go through stages like this but this seems to be the longest. Ever. I do, however, read lots of submissions for Pure Slush, the flash fiction website I edit. And I mean, edit. Like, really edit. I love editing. Editing seems to have replaced reading for pleasure at the moment. At times, I read a few pages from a book on the history of British cooking, which as I predicted when I bought it, is fascinating, despite my lack of progress with it. To be honest, when it comes to reading, I much prefer non-fiction. I think that's why I limited the maximum word length on Pure Slush to 500 for fiction, but 1200 for non-fiction, though 2 fiction pieces are published every week (Wednesdays) but only one non-fiction piece is published every week (Saturdays).

That said, I rarely write non-fiction. I would rather live it and move beyond it than write about it. I don't live in the past. I don't even live in the present.

Name the top two or three most influential writers of your writing career and maybe a line or two telling us why.

Ellen Gilchrist, especially her Crystal and Rhoda stories - such energy and drama and absurd passion. And she has great lists in her stories, I love lists in stories. Many people can't write lists in stories, they have to have a rhythm to them. (I like Ellen Gilchrist's novels much less then her short stories.) No writer has given me more pleasure. At times, I have had to ration her stories, one a night, when her latest book came out.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, especially her early Indian novels. Another world, and perhaps another life for me, but I read them and reading stories about India or by Indian writers always takes me back to reading her early novels: the colour, the rites and social rules, the misunderstandings and fine tuning within the complex society she wrote about.

Annie Hawes, whose wonderful armchair travel books (though I loathe that term) are simple, joyous dips into a life both similar and different. I can't help but think of her books and smile. Frances Mayes got me into reading such travel books, but Annie Hawes kept me there. I have read hundreds ... but such pleasure!

An American, a German-British-International and a Brit living in Italy: sadly, none are Australian. But other writers who have given me lots of pleasure at times include E.M. Forster, Tama Janowitz, Alice Thomas Ellis, Shirley Hazzard (ah, she's Australian, though hasn't lived here for years) and no doubt many others I will remember later. And lots of memoirists. And I love books about the U.S. in the 1950's, about publishing and food and cooking, books about big cities - Paris, Berlin, New York, Delhi - and books about music and fashion and design and the homefront in wartime and cinema and oh ... the list is endless. Maybe there is simply too much to read and I have given up.


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