In Words + Pictures with Mick Davidson

Writer, photographic artist and musician Mick Davidson is interviewed by Christina Cummings.

Mick Davidson is a full time technical writer and semi-full time fiction author. He also finds time for both guitar playing and photography. He travels extensively but for now considers home to be in the Netherlands.


Here he talks to Christina Cummings:


Your website, 'A World in Pictures + Words', is a unique blend; capturing the thoughts, sounds and sights that you hold dear and expressing them for the world to enjoy. However… if you could choose only one medium with which to convey your inner-muse, which would it be, and why?

 Wow, why not start with a tough one?! And thanks for the compliment by the way. Words definitely. Photos show the world as it is, more or less. You can tinker with it a bit, hide things or exaggerate them. But with words you can create whole new worlds, conjure up emotions and pretty much do anything you like. You can bend and twist the language into any shape to make it fit what you’re trying to do. If there’s something you want to say, an opinion for example that might be unpopular or controversial, or you want to use language in a way that is way outside the norm, you just stick it in someone else’s mouth and let them say it for you. What could be better than that?


What methods do you use to ʻfocusʼ when writing a set piece to a dead-line? Do you have a specific routine or set agenda? Do you plan?

Thankfully I don’t often have deadlines. When I worked as a journalist the fear of being shouted out by the editor was enough motivation. But there’s also professional pride as well. To gain focus when writing poetry I do have to get myself into a specific frame of mind. I do need quiet for that, though not always as I can write in cafes (great pose value) and on buses and trains. I have to get myself somewhere in my head that is isolated from the world and allow a certain feeling to arise within myself. It’s quite physical. Once there I can start writing, sometimes drifting in and out for a few seconds depending on what’s going on around me. Writing long fiction is another thing. It’s far more industrial, you have to put in the hours, grind the stone and to hell with your feelings.


In what ways do you think your writing style may have been influenced by your travels?

Hopefully a lack of borders, by that I mean things getting in the way of the way I express myself and use language and ideas. Writing is very personal: I think it is every writer’s duty to write as freely as they can and not be held back by anything, especially convention or the need to be popular or fear. Being abroad helps expose you to local writers: I’ve spent a lot of time travelling in Latin America and I lived in Andalucía for a couple of years. I love both Lorca and Borges, the latter is always on my mind when I write; he really knew how to write about the fantastic. Also, when travelling, you are sometimes desperate to read something in English, so you will read anything. That’s how I managed to force myself through Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I also read The History of the English Language; the Marxist/Leninist View (or something very similar). It was a book about the English language written by the Castro regime. It was quite fascinating until we got into syntax. Apparently language only arose so that we could communicate about ‘work’.


In your poem, ʻThings I Have Left’, you explore the transient notion of ʻbeingʼ. Do you feel that this is true? And, if so, is there an innate acceptance or a strong need to be ʻknownʼ?

Yes, very much so. We come and go at such a pace and within a few generations we have disappeared completely unless we’re famous or notorious. Everything most of us do will become dust pretty quickly, all our worries will disappear, all the issues that burn us up now will one day be meaningless. I’m not negative about it though: we’re here now, so let’s have a good time and try and make the world as bright and happy as we can. Much better than being miserable. That said, it’s much easier to write about misery than happiness. As far as being known goes, I’d love to leave some sort of impression on the world, something that might last longer than a few generations. At the same time, we can limit what we let people know about us. If, like me, you are a fairly transient person, then you can easily hide or delete bits of your past and character. In fact much of what we are only exists in other people’s thoughts and experiences of us. If you have lots of friends and have lived somewhere long enough to put down roots, then you are more substantial because people are reading your history when they meet you. However, for many of the people I know, my history only began a few years ago, and in another country, so they only know what they see and hear of me now. So I’m much freer to cast off the old and experiment with the new. That said, there is definitely a core that never really changes.


Imagery in visual art, photography and illustration is immediate. How can the same be translated into prose? How do you evoke the same impact using words – do you have a certain way of ʻdrawingʼ words together, or is each time different?

Yes, I think it can, but I don’t think it’s easy. People have said that my writing is very visual, something I wasn’t aware of. I was always thinking about the emotional impact my words would have. I haven’t really changed what I do because of that, but I am more aware of it and probably try to use it more consciously. The words I use tend to be fairly simple and every day, and sometimes they seem to come out in a rather strange and beautiful fashion. I get a lot of enjoyment out of them and the process. I hope other people do too. Visual; artists are lucky in that people can see their work. We writers don’t have that luxury, which is very frustrating. I’m working on a couple of ideas that will combine words and the 3D world in an effort to overcome this problem.


What keeps you sustained during the writing process (and don’t say cake!! : )

For poetry, the delight in finishing something fairly quickly (though some of them drag on for months!) For longer fiction, sheer bloody mindedness, and desperation. The desperation to be published which can only really kick in once you’ve got something to be published (and rejected). Also the idea of being famous and making a living from writing fiction – the latter would be heaven, not so sure about the former.


When on your travels do you pack a book? And do you ever actually read it while youʼre away?!

Yes, though not as much as I ought to. I took two to Australia, on my recent trip. One is a history of the country written in a highly non-academic way. The other is a sort of biography of the journalist Nicholas Rankin. And I always have my current poetry notebook. Sometimes I find being somewhere else helps me finish off poems that I’ve started and have abandoned.


Whatʼs the best writing tip youʼve ever been given? And does it work?

I’ve read tons on the internet but don’t recall being given any personally, mainly because most of my writing has been done in secret and without the benefit of a writing group or creative writing classes. The most important thing I can think of is to write without fear. In other words to just let it all pour out without thinking about it or editing it along the way. You shouldn’t stop the flow by worrying over each word and sentence, you can correct everything later when you’ve exhausted yourself. When I write long fiction I write as much as I can and go back to the editing later. So I might write for a few hours in the evening and then use the editing process to get the ball rolling again when I start the following evening etc. That way you give yourself the chance to get back into the language and feelings of the story, which means by the time you start writing again you are already warmed up.



'Wall Graffiti' by MICK DAVIDSON © Mick Davidson 2012    

'Self-portrait' by MICK DAVIDSON © Mick Davidson 2010




Mick Davidson's first novel, 'The Darkness Beneath' is available to buy from Amazon here: