On my continual quest to find out what makes people tick, I asked Nimue Brown ~ Druid, author & poet a few questions...
You're a prolific writer. How did your love of writing begin and what does it mean to you?
I was an early reader and writer. As a child I usually had my nose in a book, and spent a fair amount of time trying to write things - it just seemed obvious to me as a thing to be doing. I have a love of language, a fascination with the power of words to affect who we are and what we do. It's also a bit of a compulsion for me - it's how I deal with things and make sense of the world. Writing comes out of a deep need to express, and be heard, to share something that can be understood.
How does your spirituality influence your writing and do you have any 'writing ritual (s)' you find helpful?On the non-fiction side of course what I do is pretty much all about my spiritual life, but it has implications for fiction, too. I review books because I believe in the power and importance of books, and the way that stories can shape us and change us. I write fiction and poetry with the hopes of inspiring other people to see things differently, and in the hopes of entertaining and providing them with much needed escape for a while. I think the main influence is, that I see good word use as a spiritual virtue - that to speak or write with an open heart, with authenticity and all the truth and passion you can muster is in itself a spiritual action.
In terms of writing rituals - when I'm stuck I walk, often to a local barrow, or a graveyard on the site of a Roman villa - trees, hills, open sky, these things open my mind and I go out so as better to be able to go in. There's also my relationship with the magic beans (coffee) which I turn to a lot for focus and inspiration.
You're an avid supporter of authors, how does your being an author yourself influence this role for you and what are the pros and cons?!
I've always been a reader and keen on books, but it wasn't until I started writing that I realised how tough things are for authors. Even authors you'd think would be doing really well, are struggling, all too often. The stats around what authors, and comics artists, and really most people working in creative industries earn, are pretty grim. So the downside of all of this is that I have a really keen awareness of good people having a hard time making their brilliance pay. On the plus side, I spend time championing things I'm passionate about, and I take a lot of joy in seeing other creators successes.
Work/life balance. How do you manage yours?
Work life balance? Hah! I've had to do a lot of thinking around this one - I'm a bit obsessive, and I don't earn a fortune and this has tended to result in me working all the hours I can for little money and much burnout. Over the last couple of years, I've managed to shift this balance - working at Moon Books has been a real game changer for me, and I've got into some other good publishing arrangements too, that mean I tend to do better than the £1 an hour average of two years ago. You can't have any kind of work/life balance for £1 an hour, you can't afford to go anywhere, do anything, or stop. A lot of self employed people end up on this kind of poverty wage. Aside from being able to afford a life, I've learned to say no to jobs that aren't interesting to me, and to avoid working with people who depress or stress me out - this also sucks time and life out of a person. If I'm awake, I'm probably doing something - writing, reading, making something, cooking, playing music. I've started dancing again, I walk a lot - I'm always thinking about something, I can't really do 'down time'. Having grasped that this is part of who I am, I've stopped worrying about how much I work and started focusing on work that makes me happy, instead. It seems to be working out well.
Apart from writing, what are your interests and do you end up writing about them or just enjoy doing them?!
Other interests - I'm interested in everything. I read a vast amount every day, online - politics, economics, philosophy, health, life issues, creativity, environmental - every aspect of this world and the experience of being in it seems worthy of attention to me. There's a constant feeding of that into whatever I'm writing or working on, and the lifestyle choices I make. I like to be surprised, I like to encounter things I hadn't thought of. I love live performance of all sorts - spoken word, theatre, music... I love walking and sauntering around looking at things and being involved in the landscape and the seasons. Folk music, (at the moment I'm mostly singing with a bouzouki) wildlife watching, I'm knitting a lot at the moment but am also obsessed with rag rugging and any kind of crafting that uses other people's rubbish. (I'm a Womble).
If you could have half an hour with anyone (famous or not) from the Great Cauldron in the Sky, who would it be and what would you say to them?
There are some conversations I'd like to have with my maternal grandmother, and with her mother (who died long before I was born) and maybe the grandfather I never met, as well. There are a number of things that have worked their way down to me through my ancestral lines and I would like to be able to chase those stories and ways of thinking back through history so as to better understand them.
What makes your hackles rise?
I get really annoyed by bullshit, hypocrisy, self important noise making, and people who say you can meditate while driving. I get absolutely bloody furious about inequality, abuse and cruelty, and there's far too much of that around.
Favourite book, song and film?
I'm not good at picking favourite things because it depends so much on what mood I'm in. I can suddenly go off things and not even know why, or suddenly crave an author, or inexplicably become obsessed with a tune... there's not a lot of logic to it and I'm afraid I'm far too fickle in my tastes to be able to say anything today that might still be true tomorrow.
What personal philosophy underpins your life?
Personal philosophies... I experiment a lot with how I look at life, but there are a few key points I'm sure about. I don't have certainty or belief, I am a Maybeist. I can say 'maybe' to all kinds of ideas, and I mean to stay there, holding my uncertainty and being as open as I can be. 'Shit happens' is my personal mantra - shit happens for all kinds of reasons and no reason at all, and sometimes we need to look at why and sometimes there is no message in it. 'Be the change' is another thing I'm passionate about - living in the way I want things to be. Experience before posession, power to do, not power over. That's probably the most fixed set of ideas I have.
Many thanks for your time and honesty.
For more info about Nimue, check out her site: https://druidlife.wordpress.com/
Her latest books are: