28 October 2015
Spotlight On Scribe: Clem Moriscot
This week, we’re bringing you daily Q&A’s from our Scribe Nonfiction Prize Long-listed writers. Read on for more information on their work, writing journeys, and all their tips, tricks and advice for budding young non-fic creators.
Born and raised on a French island, secretly aspiring to be a writer and dreaming about moving to Australia, she made both her dreams come true when she moved to Perth over two years ago to study writing at Curtin University. She loves listening to people’s accents, hates small talk, and would happily survive on sweet breakfast food.
How old are you?
I am 23.
What state or territory do you live in?
How did you begin writing?
I realised that I loved writing during an assignment when I was about 11. I still have it. It was ‘write a tale’. It gave me such a thrill to come up with the story and all the little trials and characters, etc. My teacher actually commented ‘a future writer, maybe?’, and I have treasured that ever since.
Why do you write nonfiction?
Actually, I always thought I would write fiction, until I studied creative nonfiction. It is so rewarding to learn not only through the research, but also to learn about yourself in how the findings affect you. I hope to write someone else’s story one day; that should be a special experience too. And crafting stories from daily life means finding meaning and connecting people and events; I think we are all after meaning and purpose in our own ways.
Tell us a bit about your longlisted Scribe submission.
In My Own Tongue uses migrant stories and elements of research to help me figure out my identity as a writer, more specifically as a French native writing in English. I question my authenticity in either language, and try to reconcile the two.
Why did you choose to write on this topic as a young writer?
Translation has always fascinated me. I have had teachers who would talk about languages as if they were proper entities with feelings. That used to puzzle me. But the more I would learn, the more I would understand how lively a language feels to use. It constantly teaches me to be open-minded, and I had to go deeper into why that is, and how.
How long have you been working on your submission, or where in development was your piece prior to entering the Scribe prize?
The research I did was at first for my Masters Creative Project, and that took me most of 2014. It turned into a personal journey, and so I thought I would bring my notes to contribute to the dialogue about diversity and identity.
How important is Australia to you and your writing?
Australia is probably embedded in my language itself. It’s my main English speaking scene, which is different from what French students learn at school, where they focus on the UK and the US. Australia is the scene so I react to. And I always think of it with a lot of gratitude. I feel so blessed for the opportunities I have had here, I just want to celebrate Australia when I write!
What the best and worst piece of advice that you’ve received about writing?
The best one: keep it simple. It’s still hard for me to follow, but it comes down to Boileau’s quote ‘ what you understand well, you enunciate clearly’. The practice of writing helps you understand, but you have to be honest with yourself and keep pushing until you get there.
The worst one…
What is your favourite or most influential work of nonfiction that you’ve read? How has it affected your writing?
Anything from Robert Dessaix. I am not sure that it shows just yet, but I look up to how he brings together different cultural references, giving so much depth to his voice, and I think he just has a knack to find the one phrasing that resonates with you. It’s just beautiful.
Can you share a piece of your published nonfiction work that you’re particularly proud of?
I have not published anything yet… How about something from my entry?
‘We probably all feel that we have different versions of ourselves, whether we know several languages or not. Depending on where I am, I am the Islander, the Parisian, or the one in Australia. I get it now that I am almost more defined by the sense of the place where I am not, than by the one I am standing in. Along that journey of confronting, deciphering, and reconnecting, I have become master of my languages again. I am a person of my words, and I join Dessaix, the most compelling voice I have met so far, in saying that my quest for finding the right word, even the right voice, is ‘a real part of my experience of being alive,’ as was making peace with the chips and cracks that tell my story. My language is my country, a sense of place where I belong, a home I carry with me. Understanding my language is my awakening, how I can understand myself, and find others.’