Why We Write: Gigi Papoulias

Q1. What inspires your creativity?

Besides my own memories and experiences, I am influenced by what I see/hear/feel every day. Life in Athens has always been filled with contradictions, dualities. I see this everywhere – because of the current financial crisis and its dismal consequences, these opposing degrees of reality are felt even more so. Observing and experiencing this often inspires ideas for a narration, a story…

Q2. What conditions do you like to write in? Standing on your head, sitting on the bus, eaves dropping at a party…

I was in a busy Starbucks recently and observed all the people with laptops, tapping away, totally immersed in their work… I am always amazed at this ability to block out the noisy world and just focus on doing your thing. When I’m writing, I need to be completely alone and completely unplugged… No noise or outside distractions. I quietly enter my own odd little writing world; sitting at my desk, surrounded by my books, slurping iced coffee, chewing on the straw, then crunching the leftover ice, typing, pausing, swirling around in my swivel chair while pondering a word or a phrase, making the appropriate sound effects after coming up with a particularly nice sentence (BAM! or Ppp-shhh!)… or after deleting a particularly bad paragraph (wah-WA)… I think it would be quite embarrassing if I acted like this at Starbucks…

Q3. Are there any writers that you most strive to be like and why?

There are a lot of writers that I admire but I can’t say I strive to be like them. When I read a piece that I like, I try to use it as a sort of spark to get my own ideas going – how would I have approached this topic? We all have unique abilities and talents; our own perspective on the world. I strive to continue improving my own writing, and see what new ideas emerge.

Q4. What is your favourite book and why?

Too many to mention really but some writing and authors that have always remained with me: the book The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany; the poems of C.P. Cavafy; the book Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis; the writing of David Sedaris…

Q5. Do you have any tips about the writing process?

Well, I can only tell you what has worked for me. I’ve found that it helps to surround myself with like-minded writers. I take classes. I listen. I keep an open mind. In a writing workshop or class, I take into serious account the critiques/comments about my writing – and I don’t take anything personally.

I read only what inspires me.

Figure out what works for you – so many times I read advice like ‘the golden rule is to write every day!’ I never write every day. It just doesn’t work for me. In reality, the key is to take all this ‘advice’ into consideration, maybe give things a try and see what ‘fits’ into your own writing process…


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