A Writer's Process: Eva Meijer


What limitations or blocks have you come across in your writing career so far? And how have you overcome them?

This may sound implausible but I never experienced a block or limitation. Discipline works well for me, I have a daily routine in which I write the same amount of words every day, and generally spend quite a lot of time working. This is not to say that everything I write is good, writing is also rewriting, but in order to be able to rewrite you need to write first.

Writers talk a lot about 'finding their voice'. What has helped you to find a distinct and authentic voice in your writing?

I began writing songs when I was fourteen and stories followed soon after. Next to my novels I write academic philosophy, non fiction books, and make visual art. My life has always been intertwined with what I make, it is and always has been very central to who I am. So the process of finding a voice was interconnected with growing up and finding out my purpose here. It was never something explicit.

How does contact with nature inform and support your writing (or not) ?

I take long walks every day with my dog companions. This keeps me grounded and gives me space. I find that the combination of working concentrated for a couple of hours, then going out, working, going out, and so on, works very well for me. Both the physical activity of walking and the outside world – sometimes nature, sometimes the city – is important.

Much of my academic work, and several of my novels, are about nonhuman animals, and the relations between humans and the other animals. This is partly shaped by my own experiences with animals and the living world, so contact with nature is very important in that regard.

Please describe a fearful or anger-making moment in the creative process

When characters are in difficult or painful situations I can feel bad or angry for them, but that is more their process than mine.

Please describe a joyous moment in the creative process

Life can be challenging but writing is always a joy.

What is your current project, and why does it inspire you?

Earlier this year, two books came out in Dutch: a novel, Voorwaarts, about an anarchist vegan feminist community in the 1920's near Paris and a group of young people now, who want to live life differently and explore the borders of freedom; and a philosophical essay about depression (which will also be translated into English), The limits of my language. I am currently working on two novels, one of which is nearly done – a climate fable, or a magical-realist murder mystery around the arrival of a new river –, a book length essay, and several academic articles. The different works inspire each other; different disciplines have their own reach and can answer different questions about the same subject matter. In terms of choosing a subject, I always feel the subject chooses me, and I have to follow. Similarly, the characters in my novels determine how the story goes.

More information about my work can be found on my website: www.evameijer.nl

Coming out in August in the UK: Animal Languages (John Murray)