Writing with soul

Student profile: Joy Florentine

Joy Florentine has always wanted to be a writer and has written for as long as she can remember. Her parents instilled a love of storytelling early – bedtime stories were interactive events where Joy was encouraged to participate.

Joy was born and bred in Amsterdam and comes from an international household – her mother is Indonesian and her father is Dutch. She has lived in other places in the Netherlands but told us she has a soft spot for her hometown, where she currently lives with her British partner and their Portuguese cat Tiquinho (Tee-keen-yo). If you’re lucky enough to have taken an online class with Joy, you may have seen Tiquinho put in an appearance.

Joy joined her first IWC course in 2019 and most recently participated in our Flash Fiction course.

 

WHAT DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

I’m trying to experiment with writing processes, and I haven’t found one thing that is ‘The Magical Formula’ for me. Perhaps such a thing doesn’t exist, but I keep looking for one!

I’m quite good at writing initial drafts; popping out thousands of words and not looking back. I have consciously trained myself to not edit as I go, and just ignore the shitbird. First drafts are quite therapeutic for me since I am able to write down anything that pops into my mind, even if I know that it makes no sense. I’m currently trying to develop a more systematic approach to editing since I tend to get stuck there.

I write in English, which is my second language. This sometimes makes it challenging for me to fully express myself on paper in the way that I want (e.g., lyrical and descriptive writing).

I love writing in the mornings with a cup of coffee before work. I managed to do that every day consistently during NaNoWriMo (feel free to add me). I wanted to keep that up, but the “Winterdip” unfortunately got to me. Now, I’m trying to be kind to myself and focus on recharging, but I’d love to pick up my morning writing routine again.

Finding time for writing isn’t as much of an issue for me as finding the energy/space in my mind. When I just want to get words on paper, I use the programme Cold Turkey Writer. This locks you out of everything else on your laptop/computer, for a certain amount of time/word amount. Luckily, this programme does not delete any words if you are too slow. I don’t think I could handle that kind of pressure! The basic version is free, so I can definitely recommend giving it a try!

 

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?

I get inspiration from everything to be completely honest. Like conversations I overhear on the streets, strangers at train stations, beautiful buildings, art, abandoned places – it can be anything. My mind often runs with things and elements I observe in the world (or on a screen).

I started keeping a writers’ journal just before the first lockdown (or rather a ‘Compost Heap’, as Neil Gaiman calls it). It’s a little black book in which I write down mini-scenes or descriptions of real people that stuck with me. I number them and keep them for inspiration later. These are great little exercises, and I’ve found that they have already helped me immensely with looking at my surroundings differently and paying attention to details that I would normally not see.

 

WHAT’S THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU’VE LEARNED IN THE COURSES?

IWC has helped me immensely as a writer. I had never taken a writing class before, but I’d been consistently reading blogs on the internet on how to improve your writing. IWC delves so much deeper into actual techniques and critiquing. I’ve learned about narrators, which I actually did not consciously think about before. My favorite would have to be the unreliable narrator. I’ve also learned to appreciate short stories and flash fiction. And learned a lot from my peers: all the different tastes and outlooks on writing. It’s been really refreshing working with so many like-minded people.

I have met some really amazing people through the IWC. I am currently in a writing group with four wonderful women I met through the courses. We have grown really close as friends. I never expected to be lucky enough to have such supportive writer friends in my life. Having a community of people you trust and with whom you share a passion for writing is so important, and I feel so grateful to have found that.

 

WHAT DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH AS AN ASPIRING WRITER?

What I struggle with is the insecurity that comes with writing, as I suspect it does with creating many forms of art. The thoughts that run through my mind are ‘What if I suck? What if I’m not original enough? What if people hate what I make?’. But I think that if you keep coming back to something despite being pestered by thoughts like that, you are simply meant to be doing that thing. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I can’t live without writing. There are too many stories and characters in my head that have and deserve a life of their own.

 

HOW HAS WRITING HAD AN IMPACT ON OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE?

Since starting to dedicate myself to writing in a serious way, I’ve started looking at the world and people differently. I see more and recognize authenticity in the little things. It has made me think about my own authenticity and what I really want from life. Writing, as well as reading, has opened me up to myself emotionally as well. I feel like I’m able to store a piece of my soul in every piece I write. That to me is more valuable than anything else. That is what I want to keep doing.

10 February 2022

2 responses on "Writing with soul"

  1. Hi Joy,
    nice that you remember the bedtime stories.
    And that it contributed a bit to your writing talent.
    Continue doing the things you enjoy.

    Love, Daddy

  2. Hey Joy,

    What a nice insights and stuff you shared with us. Hope to read some more stories of you in the future (as a proofreader). You do always make me laugh with your short stories. That for sure!

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