Keeping the attention of those operating within Digital Arts is no mean feat. Twitter is a mere pocket away after all, but … Lauren Beukes understands. Her presence is both quirky and immediately alluring; her speech frequently interrupted by anecdotes that appear tangential, but always wind back to a thoughtful and considered conclusions. This is typical of Lauren’s power with words – eccentric, eclectic and invigorating. Her writing career has spanned just over a decade and is as eclectic as she is: journalism, animation, comic books, TV, documentaries, and short stories. Shealso has two novels, Moxyland and Zoo City (which won the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke award for Science Fiction).
Having detailed her path to being a full-time novelist, Lauren focused on writing for animation. Lauren was head writer for The Adventures of Pax Afrika and shared her experiences and advice dealing with a minuscule one week pipeline for a 30 minute animated TV show. She pointed out that the tight pipeline wasn’t too difficult if each member of the team communicated their constraints promptly to other departments. She added that it helps to sleep with the boss when you need to get your way.
Having spoken about her stint in animation she stressed her writing mantra to the room: “if you want to be a writer then you must write.” She indicated two primary ways to do this: get a job writing or stop making excuses. Regarding the former, she recommended journalism: one gets paid to write stories and is exposed to a plethora of cultures and experiences. Elaborating on the latter she advised forcing oneself to sit down and write for a period, no matter how short. Whether it be five or thirty minutes- once your timer is up you can stop. Quashing the inevitable ‘…but I don’t have time…’ in the minds of every writer in the room she described a fellow writer who produced work solely during her lunch break while sitting in the carpark.
Diverging, she described her experience with the writing process. Having summoned a quote she identified with, artists of other media in the room found themselves nodding their heads in agreement:
“It’s like taking a road trip at night. You know where you’re leaving from and where you’re going to, and some of the major landmarks along the way. The rest of the time, it’s pitch black, you can see 20 feet ahead of you in the headlights and you just have to figure it out. And sometimes getting lost or taking a detour from your intended route turns out more interesting.” – E.L. Doctorow
The Soiree finished formally at this point, but being Lauren, the session continued for another 30 minutes until everyone’s queries had been handled.
The Shining Girls, Lauren’s third novel and first international release has poised her to explode into the international market. We were lucky to have her attend before she is enveloped by worldwide fame and success – not that that’s going to stop her from sharing a tangentially eccentric anecdote anytime soon.
Author: Ben Myers