Editor’s note: I did an MA in Creative Writing and had big dreams of making the written word my way of life, but for the last three years, I’ve been struggling to write. I’m on a journey to unblock my creative pathways and I’ve turned to Cape Town’s abundant supply of inspiring womxn to help me. By having them share their creative processes, dreams and struggles with me, I hope to reconnect with my own.


ANNIE BROOKSTONE

annie brookstone baby godzilla writer cape town jjroman

Dynamite comes in small packages and Annie Brookstone – aka Baby Godzilla – is no different. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who  combines as much lethal injection and honey-sweet loveliness into one personality. She’s a hard-core wordsmith who can just as easily get you into a choke hold with her jiu-jitsu moves as with her wit. Annie has made writing her way of life, and as with all creative endeavours, it doesn’t hurt to be a little fierce.

PREFERRED MEDIUM(S):

Written word.

SOURCE(S) OF INSPIRATION:

Damn, tricky question straight off the cuff. Obviously there are lots of writers that I admire: Denis Johnson and Cormac McCarthy are two major ones. Their prose is simple but staggeringly beautiful – not a word feels superfluous and I love that. As for day-to-day inspiration, I think all an evocative writer really has is the acuteness of perception and the ability to transcribe it. I love finding the poetry in the mundane, but then I also love being out of my comfort zone, the sharpening of the senses when you’re in an unfamiliar place or situation, and making sense of it through words. It feels gross to say that inspiration is everywhere but I don’t know if I’d be a writer if it wasn’t. Inspiration isn’t magic and I think if you’re looking for that you’re doing it wrong: of course sometimes it hits you in the face but sometimes it’s also just a nudge and I guess the sensitivity in writing is feeling the nudge.

TURN AROUND TIME BETWEEN INSPIRATION, EXECUTION AND SHARING: 

It really depends on the project. The weird thing about inspiration is that sometimes it’s like a compulsion and I actually feel an almost physical need to get the words out – I get swept up in a stream of consciousness and just go wherever that takes me – while other times it’s a slow burn and I’ll toy with just one sentence, just one arrangement of words, for days before my mind will let me move on. It’s great when you have the luxury of that time but being a freelancer, time is money, so there will be instances when the words feel less like the result of a creative process and more like intellectual labour.

DAILY PRACTICE: 

I am a writer – it feels less like a thing that I do and more like a thing that I am. Does that make sense? I write just about every day to make a living but even when I’m not writing I’m writing. It informs every part of my worldview. The way that I think is the way that I write – or maybe it’s vice-versa – and that never stops, the narrative is endless and it’s about everything. That doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to write but even when I’m not finding the words that I’m looking for, I’m finding other words, even words about not finding words… there’s always something. In terms of practical habits, I hate running but I’ll run out a story when I’m struggling. I don’t know if it’s the fresh air (my mother would say it’s the fresh air), the change of scenery when I’ve been facing a blank page for hours, the physical exertion or just the reassuring mindless rhythm of one foot after the next, but usually I’ll get home sweaty and with, well, something. Hey, if it’s good enough for Murakami…

HARDEST PART OF DOING WHAT YOU DO:

Truly, sometimes the most frustrating thing I face is just other people’s misconceptions of what I do, like this perception that writing is easy or fun or because it’s something I’m passionate about, that it’s its own reward. Whenever someone says, “Oh, can you just write this thing for me?” or “Oooh, I love your writing, you should write more”, I’m just like, “Cool, pay me.” I cringe when people ask what I’m writing “for myself”. Honestly, nothing. I like writing but I especially like writing for money. So, I guess to answer your question, maybe the hardest part of what I do is crushing people’s romantic notions about what I do. (Kinda joking but not really. Sure, there’s the negative inner voice too, but that comes with the territory.

HOW MUCH EMPHASIS DO YOU PLACE ON MAINTAINING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE?:

Social media is useful for me to keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry but I very rarely use it to showcase the work that I do. My social media is about Annie Brookstone – of course the fact that I’m a writer is part of that, but you’ll also find everything from jiu-jitsu to shibari to #cloudporn to, yes, even cat pictures.

DO YOU HAVE A DAY JOB OR HAVE YOU MADE YOUR CREATIVE PASSION PAY?:

It’s the only thing I know how to do! Seriously, it’s been a long road building a name for myself and the only way to do it is to never get complacent. It’s like that Cypress Hill song ‘Rap Superstar’ (sorry if you’re not a child of the ‘90s).

YOUR MOUNT EVEREST:

Questions like this not triggering an existential crisis. (I promise I’m laughing as I type this, but, like, a real wry, writerly laugh.)