aside Interview with Writer of the Month: Chelsea Hipwood

Name: Chelsea Hipwood, Age: 27, Location: London,
Artistic Discipline: Creative Writing.

• Please tell us what your current creative project is?

My most current project is an ongoing blog which I’ve been writing for well over a year now; it’s quite personal and I still find it daunting sharing segments of my life with others; not that I have a huge following or anything. At present I’m working on my first novel; gathering raw material but I think it will be a few years before it’s able to materialise. I have to be patient because the story is mostly factual and hasn’t concluded yet. In the meantime I’m going to be adding to Delphine and Liliana so that I have a collection of female-themed short stories. I’m still waiting for the next brave girl to introduce herself, I’m sure she’s somewhere within me like the other two.

• What is your biggest goal this year?

Probably just to refocus my career. I’m a procrastinator who sits on various ideas and as a result I haven’t completed numerous works. I have so many creative outlets that it’s hard for me to commit to one task and say “Look, here’s what I can do”. When I graduated 4 years ago I didn’t think I was particularly good at writing; I grew up jotting things down as a hobby as my mum was always encouraging us to be creative. That’s how I entertained myself; I didn’t watch much television or play computer games etc.
During university I really wanted to get into Broadcast Journalism but soon discovered in Media it’s all about who you know and how well you network. My constant effort to write means I’m being productive; I see it like a creative investment.

  • What do you hope to achieve with your new work?

Until I’m able to work and finance myself independently I won’t ever be satisfied. Taking on a creative pursuit is a gamble, a couple of my favourite writers spent years either living on the streets or in jail because they felt society had nothing to offer them. If I had enough money to quit my job and pursue writing full time I wouldn’t think twice; it’d get the ball rolling, I’d have so much to show for it.

• Tell us why you do what you do?

I write because it’s a cathartic process and helps me transform something which is usually uncomfortable into something powerful. It’s my outlet, it makes me feel better. Being an incessant worrier it’s really the only way to transpire lonely thoughts into something I can share. I know many people who feel similarly to me; if I’m able to create a temporary escape even just for one person then I’m having a small impact; it’s a dream worth pursuing.

• Tell us about your recent work and your process in creating it.

Writing Liliana was extremely challenging. When I wrote Delphine it was like I was possessed, it just flowed (although, it does still need re-editing). Still, I didn’t have to think about it too much. With Liliana, I was suffering writers block; I was forcing it. The themes were extremely sensitive and I needed to be careful and empathetic. The first draft was a sham. It was unoriginal, lazy, shallow; the characters had no depth. I sent it over to Charlotte and she (very kindly) urged me to rethink several factors. I wasn’t connecting with the story but in the end it got me. Sounds conceited but if my own work doesn’t evoke real emotion within myself then I know it’ll be a pile of shit. I don’t want to write anything without feeling, it defeats the whole purpose.

• Tell us about your past work…

The majority of my work is still hidden in old scrap books. Some of my most poignant pieces probably won’t ever be published because they reflect my personal life too intimately and I don’t want to breach my families privacy. Delphine gave me an inkling that I might just be good at something. I loved her character, I felt for her and I believed in her. I remember when writing the story I didn’t even know where it was going and I surprised myself. The best thing about it was that I was able to construct a woman with no social etiquette. I’m such a controlled person; soft spoken, self conscious; constantly wearing make-up, trying to hide; blend in. I could never behave like Delphine; I protect myself at all costs. To manifest an authentic character so in-tune with her “madness” was sort of liberating. It was an indirect “fuck you” to myself, the person who is scared, who conforms, who worries too much what other people think of her, who merely wants to be liked…

• Has your “art” saved your life in any way?

I was asked this question in my last interview and I remember saying no. Two years on and I have to say yes. Without writing I wouldn’t know certain parts of myself, I’d be avoiding problems rather than facing them. It’s my way of venting and dealing with things. Plus, if I didn’t have writing I would probably feel useless; like I’m not good at anything. I remember when my dad first read Delphine he called my brother and said “Have you read your sisters story?! It’s quality mate, I never knew she was so talented!” It was a shock to myself and to others because of my own disbelief and discretion. That was a turning point for me. These days I have a vision which I’d like to share and I believe in my work. Perhaps it’s an age thing because I trust myself on all levels now – in every aspect of my life – not just writing.

• Which artists do you feel inspired by right now?

I feel inspired mostly by musicians, at the moment I’m listening to a lot of Frank Ocean because I love how he articulates his emotions; there are layers to his words, ideas and his creative production. Generally though I listen to a vast range of music, every song I listen to is associated with a personal chapter and in that sense music is like a memoir. My dad played a lot of Motown and Soul growing up and I swear, all these years on certain songs make me feel so nostalgic that I remember exactly where I was and how I felt the first time I heard them.
My mother paints frequently and I love her work because it reflects parts of herself which she wouldn’t otherwise share. I’m inspired by anything which seeks change and/or provides a rare honesty. Rafeef Ziadah’s poem “We Teach Life, Sir!” bought me to tears the first time I heard it; it resonated in my mind and I wanted to hear it over and over again. For me, that should be every artists goal; to inspire change by producing powerful art.

  • Do you hope to create change with your art/music/writing?

Yeah I do. Sometimes people who I’ve never met or who I haven’t spoken to for years reach out to me to talk about my blog or Delphine. For me that’s very rewarding because it’s affirmation I’ve connected with the reader. Saying that, I know I’ve also hurt people with my writing and in that sense words are like a double edged sword. Whether their emotions are negative or positive, if my writing allows people to get in tune with their own beliefs and convictions, then they’re feeling something real, right? Feeling is good because on a vast scale we are increasingly desensitised, particularly in the west. Nobody really listens to each other. I’m asked numerous times a day how I’m doing and always reply the same thing: “Yeah great thanks”, because I know if I went on a long tangent about how anxious or down I felt I’d most probably be judged and thereafter avoided. Isn’t it funny? Our polite, habitual attempts to connect are often what keep us disconnected? I remember being embarrassed as a child because if somebody asked my mother how she’s doing, she’d go into detail explaining every little emotion and exactly why she felt the way she did: they’d just stare at her wide eyed. As an adult I really admire her for being authentic and real. She creates a change within me by being herself.

  • Do you have any particular causes and campaigns your art/music/writing is in aid of, highlights or discusses?

Unintentionally, yes. Months after writing Liliana I found myself feeling powerless due to the way a group of males were treating me. Weirdly enough when I read over Liliana I felt really comforted by the fight in her. It was almost like being encouraged by my own inner voice; obviously I created her character so I must have identified with her in some way. I felt that I wrote the story knowing I’d one day need it. And in the end it really helped me; I’ve become more assertive, less afraid; un-intimidated. In every sense I want my work to empower readers, women in particular. I want them to feel less alone, full of strength and inspired. Hopefully I’m not just being biased and it will have that affect on them. Hopefully.

• What are your plans for future work?

I’d love to do a collaborative script with another writer who inspires me or shares a similar vision. I have so many ideas; two poems in mind, a novel and as stated before, a script. I also want to add more to the Liliana and Delphine collection. I just need to knuckle down and make real time, I can’t afford to dive into anything half-heartedly.


Here is the a link to Chelsea’s short story “Liliana”.

And if you would like to know more about Chelsea and follow her work please visit her blog ChelseaReveals  


 

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