Infrequently Asked Questions
Interviewer: So what’s the deal with this blog?
Anca: I started this blog in 2012 as part of my Journalism course. The idea was to get comfortable with publishing our writings, but I hated publishing mine with a passion because I didn’t feel comfortable with writing in English. My words always sound better coming from my hands than from my mouth, but I was new in the UK and I was still trying to find my place. In a desperate attempt to have something to show I quickly turned to what I knew best: writing short stories. I had written in Romanian all my life (since I was 2, to be precise. Just ask my mum.) It was my soul food whenever I felt restless. Writing in a second language, however, felt strange and untrue to what was inside me at first. My ideas didn’t flow naturally. The result was always much too edited for my liking. Then there was the fact that making mistakes blogging intimidated me much more than making mistakes writing, say, essays. It was easy to dismiss academic work as ‘not quite what I wanted to say anyway.’ But something that came straight from the heart was personal and, therefore, had to show me as I wanted to be seen – and I did not want to be seen as the foreign girl mixing verb tenses.
Interviewer: Then what?
Anca: It was only when I first had a taste of internet popularity that I dropped all inhibitions when it came to my writings. It all happened organically and overnight. Someone reblogged one of my stories, and suddenly people from all over the world were liking, commenting on, and sharing my stories. Whoa! It went on for a number of very happy days and for me, it felt like some sort of divine permission to keep writing until I (obviously) reach insane levels of fame, or at least pass for a writer when someone asks what I do for fun. Writing in English nowadays is like trying my hand at a really complex puzzle and hoping I don’t mess up, to be fair. It’s an exercise in creativity, strategy, and ultimately, reinventing myself over and over again. It’s just a lot more fun without the burning questioning of whether I’m doing it right or not. In fact, I enjoy the hell out of it. I love having a platform where I can express myself now.
Interviewer: And what are you going to make out of it?
Anca: Hopefully, money too *laughs nervously*. I aim to start self-publishing again soon, but in terms of a career, I’m looking at content marketing. I’ve been crazy interested in writing and publishing for a long time, but then my undergraduate studies led me to reading Debbie Millman’s Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. It was my first encounter with rapidly-growing interests in marketing, branding and identity, and after thinking things through for a while I decided to go for a Masters. Ideally, I’d like to mix marketing with publishing. The ultimate goal would be to help new writers market themselves much better than I ever knew how to, so this is what I’m focusing on at the moment. I’ll learn the ins and outs quickly, then come back to you on how I’m planning to do just that, okay?
Interviewer: Okay. Did you ever self-publish?
Anca: I self-published twice. Once with a traditional publisher back in Romania, when I was 15 (the book came out after my 16th birthday though – it’s quite a story actually, remind me to tell you all about it one day!) and once using Amazon’s Createspace platform. I ended up hating the result and deleted the e-book after about a year though… looking back on it, I think I was overly excited and rushed through it. I’m working on overcoming my perfectionism and getting ready to self-publish again though, and I have some kind of a novel-in-progress, but I’d also like to experiment with a collection of short stories, some of which I’ve already posted on this blog and have received great feedback.
Interviewer: What about the more traditional route?
Anca: After university I obsessed over the traditional route. I craved a creative career that would hone my writing skills, but would also allow me to help others make good use of theirs, so marketing books seemed ideal. I got involved in the Society of Young Publishers, interned at the big trade publishers and a couple of marketing-for-authors companies, and eventually landed a contract job in academic & professional publishing. But it’s precisely because of having been there that I would not be very tempted to submit my upcoming manuscript to a traditional publisher. The process is very slow and the marketing isn’t very focused, unless one comes with an army of social media fans. I’m not so interested in making it big, in any case. I mean, sure, it’d be very nice, but I am more interested in making it mine, making it matter, making it beautiful. If it catches the right people’s attention in the process then great, but that will be the icing on the cake and not the cake itself. But if I find a way to make publishing more accessible for the talented, I promise to make it my life’s work. For now I’m just learning and figuring things out for myself as I go.
Interviewer: Cool. Favourite food?
Anca: *clears throat* these days, a goats cheese and red onion chutney panini…
Interviewer: No way! Mine too!
Anca: Aw. Go figure…