20 October 2015
Spotlight On Scribe: Eda Gunaydin
For the next two weeks, 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.
Eda Gunaydin is a student, writer and researcher based in Sydney. You can find her published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Honi Soit and the Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. With a background in Turkish, English and Spanish language literature, her current projects focus on the field of feminist international relations. Tweets at @peripeteda.
How old are you?
What state or territory do you live in?
How did you begin writing?
I wrote a poem when I was seven (it sucked). My mother, nonetheless, showed it to the whole family, and even a lone neighbour, without my prompting, and they oohed and aahed. As a solitary, specky child, I also read a lot and thought often about how much I would like to make others feel the way books made, and make, me feel. I must have gotten hooked onto the validation from there.
Why do you write nonfiction?
I didn’t start writing nonfiction until very recently. It matured out of having hit a wall with fiction, whose utility seems to elude me more and more as I age. Fiction, at its worst, seemed to replicate and re-replicate and slightly tweak characters and configurations we’ve seen so many times. I also felt consistently poorly placed to speak well, or ethically, in the voice of just anyone or everyone, and kept dwelling on the fact that there are just so many excellent, excellent examples of tragedy or comedy strewn about in immediate proximity. Real lives can be as pathos-inducing and well-formed as Lear.
Tell us a bit about your longlisted Scribe submission.
My entry is broadly a memoir written from the perspective of an eighteen year old me dressed up or down by hindsight, as well as the POVs of my sibling(s). It aims to stitch together with some coherence our lived experiences, and those of my extended family who live or have passed away in Turkey.
Why did you choose to write on this topic as a young writer?
This is a project of joint processing and purging and archiving. On the one hand I’m trying to, before it’s too late, reverse the inertia that comes from being one of the children of immigrants – for whom our parents trade their happiness, but then you’re just happy, which is a bit useless.
The family is also just full of interesting people. We have, off the top of my head, a murder plot, a jailing for conspiracy against the government, at least one fleeing the military and getting caught by bragging to sexy ladies about it, as well as survivors of brutal domestic violence, stalkings, and the day to day accretion of basic discrimination. As the dullest link in the clan, I feel a duty to do my bit and stand quietly by, taking diligent notes.
How long have you been working on your submission, or where in development was your piece prior to entering the Scribe prize?
The latter half of the piece was written in 2014, before I unburied it in August of this year and wrote furiously around it.
How important is Australia to you and your writing?
If I didn’t live here I simply wouldn’t have the time, resources, outlets or excellent coffee necessary to write.
What the best and worst piece of advice that you’ve received about writing?
Best: be a little more dispassionate if you’re passionate. Edit as you might something you don’t care about so self-interestedly, like someone else’s work.
Worst: writing what you know isn’t creative enough.
What is your favourite or most influential work of nonfiction that you’ve read? How has it affected your writing?
Gayatri Spivak’s A Critique of Postcolonial Reason. It has made me think about problems of representation, literature as a mirror of or distributor of power relations, and writing those who exist at the margins of representability. I obviously don’t have any solutions, but it has made my writing try a little harder.
Can you share a piece of your published nonfiction work that you’re particularly proud of?
The list is not overwhelmingly long given my dark past (i.e. fiction writing), but a feature I wrote for the Honi Soit in 2013 on the ‘hymen myth’ and how sex ed is failing young women is still pretty close to me – ‘Everything is Not Penis and Nothing Hurts.’