What’s the best/worst thing about sharing a creative space?
DREW: Writing can be a lonely gig. Lonely and, at times, stressful and panic-attack inducing. I’m still getting used to those downsides, especially the stress and panic attacks. It’s nice to have someone beside you to tell you that you’re not going crazy, that they’ve been through the same thing, and that you’ll come out of it. It’s also nice to have someone surprise you with a chicken roll at lunchtime. Thanks, Oli.
OLIVER: One time Drew bought me a coffee. The thing is I don’t really drink coffee. But that time I drank the coffee. I had a low-to-medium anxiety attack for the rest of the afternoon. In conclusion, the best thing about sharing a creative space is company, followed by gifts, and the worst thing is having a panic attack because you forgot you couldn’t drink coffee. Some days it gets up to 38 degrees. We’re on the top level. We don’t have air-conditioning. Often, we work without shirts. My back sticks to my plastic chair. I think Drew has a swisher chair and sweats less. But sweat puddles beneath me on the floor. It’s pretty sweet because now I don’t have to go for saunas (as much) anymore, because did you know that men who sauna 4-7 times per week are 66% less likely to develop dementia at a 20-year follow-up, than men who used a sauna once per week? It's lucky because they are very expensive.
What’s your favourite item in your workspace?
OLIVER: I bought a Coles branded rooibos tea 100 pack, which I’ve been steadily sipping out of a bowl. Bowls are bigger than cups so you can fit more tea into them.
DREW: My chair. I bought it from a nearby recycle store called The Bower for ten dollars. I wish I knew where they got it from. It looks as if it belongs in the study of an English mansion, but I still think it works in a dilapidated inner city warehouse with pigeons nesting in the roof and a view out over the freight line. It is a vintage high cane-backed chair with wooden armrests and a gold-coloured cushioned seat. It’s comfortable, provides plenty of back and shoulder support, and has level legs which sit flush on the ground, no folded pieces of paper needed to stabilise it. It’s a fine piece of furniture. I hope, one day, I can write as well as the craftsman responsible for it could build.
What inspires you to work?
DREW: Swimming, bushwalking and reading. Each one of those seems to clear out any clutter in my mind and provide the space for creativity to flourish.
OLIVER: Other writers, feelings, people, things that make me happy, things that make me cry, things that are just things. But ultimately I am wondering the same thing. I think we are all wondering what inspires us. When writing is good it doesn’t feel like work. But I haven’t felt very inspired lately. I have felt a bit sad. This interview is fun though.
What project are you working on right now?
OLIVER: I’m writing an essay on writers block at the moment. I am working on a collection of stories and essays. I want this book to be a small book. I want it to be maybe 20,000 words. Something you can finish in an evening. I want quality not quantity. I want each story or essay to punch you in the face. Not with flesh but with beauty and despair. I want to move you. There are stories and essays about mental health and suicide and relationships and pain. But each story is transformative. There is hope. There is the feeling of overcoming something and becoming new. I would like it to be called either: People I Have Known or Things I Have Learned.
DREW: I’m neck-deep in a book about Australia’s poker machine industry. I think about it most waking hours so I don’t want to go to much more into it here.
Besides each other (of course), if you could share a creative space with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be and why?
DREW: Donald Trump. I’d bug the joint, wait the minute it would take for him to incriminate himself by saying something ghastly, then leak it to the press. It would also give me the opportunity to spit in his coffee.
OLIVER: It would be Drew. Stop trying to trick question me.
Oliver Mol was an inaugural winner of the Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers in 2013. His first book Lion Attack! is available in all good book stores or you can buy it online here. Drew Rooke was highly commended in the 2015 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for his essay Machine Highs which he is now writing as a book, provisionally titled The Final Spin: the power and peril of Australia’s relationship with poker machines, which will be published by Scribe in 2018. This year's Scribe Nonfiction Prize opens for entries in May.