Glass Fiction Week is an annual celebration of QUT students writing fiction. As part of Glass Fiction Week 2022, we sat down with Grace Harvey, author of Liminal, for a discussion about their writing practice. Read Grace’s story here, and submit your details here if you would like a (free!) hardcopy of Glass: The Fiction Edition, which includes all five stories published during the week.
Tell us about your writing practice.
I go through a lot of droughts in my creative practice, so when the writing is good I try to produce as much as I can and leave editing and planning until I’m in a lull. For a long time my goal when I wrote was volume, I’ve finished a novel length work every year for the past five years, but this year I’ve really been trying to focus on getting better at editing and refining my work. I also do a majority of my reading and watching when I’m in a lull period.
When I am writing I like to fit it into my mornings or late at night when I’m in bed, I find they’re the times I’m the most creatively charged and I can settle into a groove the easiest. I try and set my writing up like a habit and a big part of that is having a variety of healthy triggers that signal to my brain it’s time to write. These are usually how I’ll start any writing sessions and the vary from lighting a candle, making myself a cup of tea or coffee, free writing in my journal, or (my favourite) taking a shower. Doing some, or all of these, really help me settle into the headspace to write. I usually try and log one or two hours in a good session, but I don’t limit myself if I feel like I want to go on longer. At the other end of the habit is the reward – giving your brain that lovely hit of dopamine for completing the task – mine include things like a long walk with a podcast episode or fifty-or-so pages of whatever book I’m reading.
If I feel unmotivated or frustrated but still want to get something done I’ll set a word count, usually somewhere around 500 words, and tell myself I can stop after that. Some days that finish line is a relief and other days its just long enough to get me into the swing of things and I’ll write far past it.
Where do you do your writing?
I’m one of those people whose lucky enough to be able to work anywhere: cafes, buses, kitchen floors. It’s less about the place for me and more about what I know I’m going to need to concentrate whether that be the quiet of noise-cancelling headphones or the ambient sound of a busy cafe. However, I would say my desk is the centre of my writing practice (that, and if I’m being honest my parent’s couch when I’m home). I’ve always been a fan of organised chaos in my workspaces, cluttered but homey vibes. Looking at my desk right now I can see a tarot deck, my open notebook, and one or two of the books I’m currently reading floating. Most days I’m lucky if I know where my glasses are.
What inspired your Fiction Edition piece? / Can you tell us a story about how it came together?
Liminal was originally part of a novel first draft, I lengthened the events of the scene out to multiple but ultimately really liked the original flow of the section and thought it might make a good short story. The novel it’s pulled from is meant to centre on the complete isolation of moving away from your hometown to uni and I think with Liminal I was trying to capture just a moment of that.
What influences your writing?
I think that other stories have always been my biggest influence. Whether I get them through television, visual art, other novels, or even music. Most of my best ideas come from pulling little pieces, concepts, stories, ideas I already like and forming them into something entirely my own.
For example, I want to write a coming of age centred around the transition to uni combined with the simultaneous isolation and peace of a metropolitan landscape, I’m also a fan of the Rooney-esque messy cast of characters and so that becomes another novel. For short fiction it’s usually simpler, one or two concepts combined. Usually, I start with a character dynamic or conflict and try to figure out an interesting setting or interaction to frame it with.
Best (or worst!) writing advice you’ve received.
I’ve always loved Isabel Allende’s ‘Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too’ and appreciated Neil Gaimans’ ‘This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard’. I guess you could say I’m a fan of the philosophy of writing through the bad to get to the good. That kind of goes hand in hand with the writing advice I hate the most (one I feel like I hear a lot in creative writing classrooms) of editing while you go. In my personal writing practice at least, I can think of nothing worse than trying to edit my words as I’m getting them out.
What’s your biggest, craziest writing goal?
Normally I’m a Literary capital L writer I think my craziest writing goal is to one day publish several very chunky fantasy novels and for them to find a loving, wonderful, and creative fanbase (and appease my teenage-self).