14 June 2015
Spotlight On: Paul Dalla Rosa
Paul Dalla Rosa lives in Melbourne. His writing has appeared in Farrago Magazine, Killings, Voiceworks and The Lifted Brow. He studies and occasionally edits comics.
How old are you?
What state or territory do you live in?
What kind of writing do you do?
Predominantly short stories and sometimes creative non-fiction. I’ve written a bit on comics and am currently doing a short thesis on superheroes and chronic pain.
What are you currently reading?
I read a lot at once, particularly at this time of year when assessments are near I get skittish and overambitious. On my desk at the moment is Renata Adler’s Speedboat, Kalinda Ashton’s The Danger Game, Qiu Miaojin’s Last Words from Montmartre and Katie Parrish comics.
How did you begin writing?
I wrote mini plays in high school and always liked telling anecdotes. If something happened to my twin and I, he wouldn’t be allowed to tell the story. I was the only one who could tell it right or maybe I just said I was the only one who could tell it right.
I didn’t actually do much writing though. I think I found it too daunting. I loved reading, I was–and still am– a Katherine Mansfield fanboy, but whatever I wrote embarrassed me. My teachers would always write on my essays or whatever, ‘awkward phrasing’ or ‘too dense.’
Then when I was nineteen I became quite ill. I was studying advertising and decided ‘fuck the system.’ I intended to drop out and try my luck at acting and audition for NIDA or the VCA. My illness stretched out for a bit so I couldn’t actually perform my audition, which was was for the best.
I’d already committed to leaving advertising so I came to study literature at Melbourne. Then I began trying to write properly.
How do you remain motivated?
Self-bullying is important. When that fails, who knows.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Everywhere from books, my body, conversations, comics to episodes of Sailor Moon.
Do you think where you live in Australia has influenced your writing?
I grew up in Eltham, which was where a lot of the Heidelberg school of impressionists painted. Paintings were done of places that were then bush and are now roads, service stations, bus stops, and footy fields where teenagers go to hookup after dark. Where they would’ve set up their easels are now empty cruiser bottles and stomped on cans of red bull. I’m probably being romantic, no doubt the painters drank too but I like the disjunction.
Maybe I like disjunctions in fiction because of that but I’m probably talking shit.
What is the best and worst piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer?
I can give the best and worst in one. There’s a Lydia Davis story, Sketches for a Life of Wassily, about a man who wants to be a writer but is pretty hopeless at it. The narrator, describing Wassily’s writing habits, says;
“There was a strange gap between volition and action: sitting at his desk, before his work but not working, he dreamt of perfection in many things, and this exhilarated him. But when he took one step toward that perfection, he faltered in the face of its demands.”
I feel like it’s both what a writer shouldn’t do, falter, but what a writer inevitably does, at least sometimes, and that that’s okay.
Alternatively, read Lorrie Moore’s How to Become a Writer (https://www.nytimes.com/books/98/09/20/specials/moore-writer.html).
What piece of published writing are you most proud of? Why?
I started writing pretty late so so far none of my published works I particularly like, though I’m a little soft for my Voiceworks stuff.
I’ve been working for a while on things I haven’t sent out anywhere yet. I’m hopeful they’re more of the kind of works I can be proud of. I want to take my time. I don’t think that’s a bad attitude to take.
What is your goal for National Young Writers Month?
My goal is to tune in at six for every event and hopefully finish my thesis.