Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world?
As a political scientist and twentieth-century historian, my aim has been to write about marginalized political movements in Africa from a sympathetic but nonetheless scientific point of view. The academic world undervalues styles of writing; the message is seen as more important than the medium.
My memoir, Searching for my Missing Father, is a very different type of writing as it is personal and emotional. I had to go through endless police and court documents, which was excruciating. I faced the challenge of putting this painful material together in a manner that was accessible to others and that would make them want to continue reading.
My father was old and had dementia. As a result he was stereotyped by the police, by reporters and by people in his town. Stereotypes allow people to make hasty judgments and avoid complexities. So I had to set the record straight. How could I write about struggles for justice in Africa if I couldn't speak out for justice for my father?
Through writing we are able to express our infinitely varied perspectives and experiences, as well as our commonalities. If we feel silenced, we can express our views and feelings through the written word. Reading what others have written offers us a way into their world and enables us to see through their eyes. The need for writing and reading is more important than ever as we strive to create a harmonious world in the midst of disharmony.
What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block?
I've never had writer's block. However, I'm not a fast writer and therefore have difficulty responding quickly to current events. I sit on the floor when I write and pick up my retractable pencil and ponder. Through this process I am able to escape my worries.
What is your favorite time to write?
Before the pandemic my best writing times were mornings and early afternoons. Now, after tossing, turning and oversleeping, I start writing at noon.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers?
Do it again.
What excites you most about being a writer in today's age?
More people are writing, creating a cacophony of words. Yet what is most exciting is that people feel and act on the need to communicate.
Allison Drew's Searching for My Missing Father is out now with Black Rose Writing.