Beginning writing can be overwhelming. But Demet Divaroren believes that it's all about trusting yourself. Following her Victorian Premier's Literary Award for her new YA book ‘Living on Hope Street’, we spoke to Demet about teaching writing, raising your voice, and keeping your creative flame burning.
Demet is tutoring a four-week course for beginner writers, The Elements of Story, in March this year.
Many writers think that writing beautifully is enough to create a good story, but there are so many important elements to consider – from plot, to character, to conflict, to voice. Where do you begin when you start writing a new narrative?
I start with a word, a line, an image, an emotion, anything that hooks my imagination and gets me asking questions. Who is speaking? Who is feeling this way? Why? This leads to an exploration of words that slowly develops into a distinct voice and a character with thoughts, emotions, problems is born.
Your latest book ‘Living on Hope Street’ tells a story through the perspectives of seven different characters. How did you find the thread that connects their stories?
'Living on Hope Street' started as a short story that explored Kane and Sam’s bond and their unfortunate violent household. As the story and the cast of characters grew into a novel, Kane’s story remained the glue that held all the other perspectives together. All of the characters are connected and are a part of Kane’s world while still having their own arcs, but the main arc, plot and building tension belongs to Kane.
You’ve taught plenty of writers through TAFE, Writers Victoria’s online clinics, and other writing organisations. What do you love about teaching beginner writers?
I love the energy, enthusiasm, and passion that erupts in a room full of creative and excited souls. The possibilities for stories and epiphanies are endless!
If you could give yourself one piece of advice when you first started writing, what would it be?
You know that voice that you’re self-conscious about? The one you second guess and mute at times so it won’t be teased or laughed at? The one that trips over and mispronounces words? You’re going to learn to trust it, raise it and own it.
It can be hard for people to take a leap of faith – whether it’s making the decision to pursue writing as a vocation, or just starting on a new piece of writing. What gives you courage when you’re unsure of which path to take?
Courage is trusting that fire in my guts. Every time I start a new project or am unsure of where a story is going, I give myself permission to just keep writing and fan those flames. Some stories may not develop more than a page or two, some go on for a few thousand words before hitting a dead end or pausing but they need to be written to keep the creative flame alight. That flame is everything. It helps guide the way for the story or project that I’m meant to finish.
About Demet Divaroren
Demet Divaroren is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and creative writing teacher. Her writing has appeared in Griffith REVIEW, Island magazine, The Age Epicure, The Big Issue and From the Outer. She is the author of ‘Living on Hope Street’ (Allen & Unwin, 2017) and the co-editor of the ‘Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia’ anthology, which was shortlisted for the CBCA’s Book of the Year Award.