4 June 2015
Spotlight On: Kaitlyn Plyley
Kaitlyn is a writer, performer, and broadcaster living in Brisbane. Last year she presented her debut solo show Not Much To Tell You at Perth’s Fringe World and the Queensland Poetry Festival. She hosts Just A Spoonful, the podcast that is young and fully sick.
How old are you?
What state or territory do you live in?
What kind of writing do you do?
I write poetry, comedy, opinion, memoir, essays, fan fiction, reviews, copy, theatre, and anything that will pay the bills.
What are you currently reading?
Waleed Aly’s Quarterly Essay from 2010, What’s Right?, as well as a YA book I’m reviewing for a website, various lit mags, a friend’s novel, and the new Lifted Brow as soon as I get my hands on it. And the internet, always.
How did you begin writing?
My mum tells me I started writing poems at five years old. When I was ten, she took me to a ‘Breakfast with the Authors’ event where I was able to ask grown-up, working writers all of my hundreds of questions on how to get a writing career. One of the authors – I think the guy who wrote A Sausage Went For A Walk – told me to start a journal and write in it every day. On the way home from the breakfast, Mum and I stopped in a stationery store to buy me a Spirax notebook, and I went to work.
How do you remain motivated?
I don’t! But mostly, deadlines. And I have a comprehensive system of planners. I block out one day per week for researching upcoming publication opportunities, and find deadlines that will fit with something I’ve been wanting to write. Lately I have taken the advice of a something poet friend David Vincent Smith wrote on social media, and started setting a timer for one hour with the promise to myself that I won’t stand up for the whole hour. Eventually, something gets written.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
I listen to a lot of science and technology podcasts. I read a lot of cultural criticism. I try to read as much as I can. I usually write best when I’m trying to explain complex feelings and concepts to myself. After I get down the bare bones of the feeling, I like to go find all the research I can about that kind of experience and let those ideas flesh out the poem or essay.
Do you think where you live in Australia has influenced your writing?
Not particularly. I grew up in Perth but moved to Brisbane three years ago. I don’t think my writing changed significantly because of the move, except that I now write many more poems about bats and “river cities”. However, I have met with more opportunities to advance my career in Brisbane, which may be because it is far less expensive to travel to nearby writers festivals/events in New South Wales and do some interstate networking. So I definitely write more and engage with writing communities more.
What is the best and worst piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer?
Best piece of advice: “Done is better than perfect”
Worst piece of advice: I don’t know, which worries me because maybe I’m still taking it?
What piece of published writing are you most proud of? Why?
I think I’m most proud of this poem I wrote called ‘What Is She’, which was published by Fremantle Press in their 2013 anthology Fremantle Poets 3: Performance Poets. It also appears in my solo show Not Much To Tell You. I wrote it during a Cafe Poet residency in Perth. One day, the cafe let me write the poem in chalk pen across the tiled walls of the women’s toilets as part of a celebration for National Poetry Week. At the end of the day, staff told me what they’d heard customers say about the poetry all day. One woman had reportedly come out of the toilets and said, “That poem changed my life”. I’m pretty proud that someone responded like that to something I wrote – gives me the heartfeels.
What is your goal for National Young Writer’s Month?
My goal is to write three chapters of the book I’m working on.
Is there anything else you want to tell us?
You have all the time in the world.