Creator Q&A - donalee Moulton
A Nova Scotia based writer answers a few questions for us
donalee Moulton is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Nova Scotia. She has written articles for print and online publications across North America including The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, Lawyer’s Daily, National Post, and Canadian Business. She is the author of two books (one fiction, one non-fiction) and several published short stories. We’re pleased that she agreed to answer some questions for H.A.T.’s readers!
Do you intentionally use a lowercase letter for your first name? If so, why?
I get asked this a lot. I blame my mother. I contend she wanted to get on my nerve one childhood day and this was how she did it. She contends we learned about proper nouns in elementary school, and I didn’t understand it, so I refused to be one. At least partially. In the end, it doesn’t seem to matter. The kids I grew up with all wrote my name with a lower case “d” and this is how my name has been spelled for as long as I can remember.
What do you want to be when you grow up? Has this changed at all when you were really, really young?
When I was young, I wanted to be a lawyer. When I landed in university – with law school around the corner – I discovered academia and research. Then I wanted to get my PhD and teach. But through all of this growing and evolving, I was writing. I wrote poetry and short stories. (I even got some published.) I belonged to and joined writers’ groups. I worked for the university newspaper. I published articles in magazines (and I got paid!).
When push came to shove – when it was time to head to TO for the PhD – I decided to get a job that required less academic knowledge and more writing skill. Just to see what this would be like, of course. I got my first communications job and waved goodbye to any other career.
Do you ever regret not getting the PhD or law degree?
No. I have no desire to be in academia or a courtroom. That said, as a freelance journalist I wrote for many legal publications and covered many stories that had research as a focus. I enjoyed that, but I know I am right where I am supposed to be, and words are right there with me.
Do you prefer writing by keyboard, do you prefer pen and paper, or do you have another favorite method?
I’m a keyboard person. It is the most efficient, and it is the primary way of writing and communicating professionally. It has become second nature. That said, I was never trained to use a keyboard, so I have my own unique typing process. And that’s just fine. Writing is not about speed but about thought.
What is your typing process? Do you use all fingers or just a few?
Regrettably, I never learned to use a keyboard professionally. That would be so fast, efficient, and accurate. I use a few fingers, and I can be quick. For much of what I do, speed is not an issue. As you write, you think, you go back, you move forward slowly.
What's the story of how you came to publish your first written work (fiction or non-fiction, it could be a work in progress as well)?
It’s probably a tie. At about the time I got my first article published in the university newspaper, I also won a university poetry contest and got my first poem published. Writing and publishing have gone hand in hand for me. That may be because I had some early publishing luck or that being a freelance journalist is contingent on being published. Or both.
What's one thing about being an author that most people don't understand?
Tough question. I think, for me, the answer is solitude. I live in a house with people who walk by, holler out, play noisy games on their phone, and ask me questions mid-sentence. Non-writers don’t always see what the big deal is. You just pick up where you left off. Writers know why this removal from the fray of life is essential.
Do you have any tips or tricks for dealing with background noise while you work? Or do you always have to stop until things are quieter?
I think, for me, concentration is either a skill I’ve honed or a natural state of being. Or both. When I’m writing, I don’t hear the world around me, to the annoyance of many of those who are around me. When I start to get distracted, I know it’s time for a break.
Do you do any writing exercises or other work to further develop your writing skills?
I write. This sounds simple. Many days it isn’t. Some call this dedication, others devotion. I’m not sure it matters what it’s called as long as it happens. I will never be a better writer, I will never write another book if I don’t sit down in front of my computer screen and begin to put words on the page.
Have you lived in Atlantic Canada for your entire life? How would you rank it among places to live and work?
Atlantic Canada is home, and I can say without bias (ahem) it is the best place in the world. I was born in Nova Scotia and have always lived here. I have though had the privilege to travel to many countries and locations around the globe. This is the best of both worlds: I have a wonderful place to up my feet and adventures are around the corner.
Pretend you wake up one morning and you discover that the Internet has been destroyed. What's the first thing that you do?
Go to the bathroom. I like routine.
Thanks so much to donalee for answering our questions!
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