Q&A Monday: Mischa Merz 2 Comments

Q&A Monday: Mischa Merz

Mischa Merz’s book Bruising about her experiences as a boxer, was published to critical acclaim by Picador in 2000. In 2002 her essay Body Blows – Sport and the Threat of Female Muscularity was included in the Overland Lecture Series.  Her short fiction has appeared in Meanjin, Island, Overland and the Cardigan Press Anthologies Normal Service Will Resume and Allnighter. Her journalism has appeared in The Age, The Sunday Age and the Herald Sun and various magazines and specialist publications. She is the 2001 Australian Amateur Boxing League women’s welterweight champion.

Writing: necessity or luxury?

Actually both. I tend to feel a little empty and bored if I don’t write or if I haven’t got a project of some kind on the boil. And so ideas develop out of existential necessity. I’ve realized lately that I need to do it to make sense of the world. I quit my job at the Herald Sun and decided to just have a break from journalism to try and get some perspective on the changing media landscape. I’ve gone into personal training and boxing coaching, which has also been a great move since I get to hear people’s stories all the time. But during the quiet times I find I still need to write, as much for myself as for the money and so I have started to generate some ideas and some work and am looking at new ways of doing that in the digital age. And when it’s all flowing and going well it does feel like an absolute luxury.

Fiction or journalism? Where does your heart lie?

At the moment I’ve lost my fiction mojo. I’m not even reading it. I’ve gone on a reality bender, I’m hungry for essays and other kinds of compelling non-fiction. I’m sure it’s just a stage I’m going through. I do love writing short fiction and have tried to write several novels and each time I try I get closer. But my mind just doesn’t seem calibrated to fiction at the moment. The writing that carries me is the kind of New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly long form literary non-fiction. I wish there were more outlets for it in Australia so we could read about ourselves with the same kind of depth.

You’ve written about your own experiences with unflinching honesty. What sort of preparation as a writer did you go through in order to write your own personal narratives?

I’ve taken a lot of punches in the face, quite frankly. Too many to count now. If nothing else it makes the realities of being a writer – rejection and harsh criticism – a little easier to deal with. But it’s a labor of love really, boxing and writing, although I’m sure that doesn’t make sense to most people. But they feed into each other all the time. The personal narrative was born out of two things. One was an editor on the now defunct Ansett Airlines in-flight magazine Panorama who urged me to use myself in the stories and so I wrote about learning to surf, boxing, singing in a karaoke bar and getting stuck with a train nerd in WA which ended up like some parody of Heart of Darkness. She really encouraged me to push the boundaries of journalism and have some fun with it. And the other thing that prepared me was a creative writing course at Melbourne Uni which made me think more about the deeper layers to be plundered and more dramatic ways of writing about the world. After years of newspaper journalism it was kind of exciting to delve deeper and use language more creatively. I never really wanted to write about myself necessarily, but I found a way to use myself as the voice of an insider, which helped make the world I was writing about more vivid and allowed me access to stuff that standard objective reporting couldn’t get to. The years of newspaper journalism, though, had taught me to be disciplined and think about the reader. So by the time I started writing about myself I was careful not to just indulge myself. The newspaper culture is very disparaging, or was, of what they call the Mexican Hat Dance I-I-I-I.

The internet: friend or foe? Discuss.

Sometimes the net is a bad, wicked friend, who makes you stuff around on the street corner talking shit when you should be doing something more productive. And sometimes it is a good friend who can expand your horizons and knowledge. I’m hoping we can work out a good balance in which my work becomes more widely read and disseminated and at the same time I don’t lose hours of time fart arseing around checking the Facebook status updates of people I’ve never met.

What’s the most common question you get about your life as a boxer?

Have you ever been hurt? I usually say that pain is very subjective and the pain I’ve experienced in boxing has usually been more emotional than physical.

If you could read anyone’s journal or raid anyone’s hard drive, through whose would you?

That’s a hard one. For profit I’d say Michael Jackson, then I’d never have to work again. For interest and insight and beautiful writing I’d say Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita, one of my all time favorite novels.

You can punch one person in the schnoz and get away scot free. Who do you clobber?

These days I consider punching someone in the face almost a friendly gesture. I’ve made some friends that way and only really lost them when we stopped hitting each other. But as a public duty I might have a go at someone like Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones or Fox Sport’s Mike Gibson. A couple of crusty old sexist 1970s men who would be good to practice some of my body-head combinations on.

What’s the best book someone ever recommended to you?

John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces

  • http://www.nikitavanderbyl.com Nikita

    Great stuff! Very interesting interview and now I have about four more books to add to my reading list. Thanks! :)

  • http://pgaa.com/airyeezy.html Air Jordan 2013

    It is a good post and thanks for sharing.

<body bgcolor="#ffffff" text="#000000"> <a href="http://links.idc1998.com/?fp=Fx%2FMSP7pcMMLguwLgqayJY%2BMBvyqLxsT5FIgT%2FHXwP9drikVVR8uMgSAGi0F24zBhpEzTwNETnqjX7%2BzKa8zzg%3D%3D&prvtof=jdOEEVX9y2Et4je%2F53GyzMCzhC7svpjT9Xq3yy9VBFA%3D&poru=iqgxsZEibZAKR9WiB67MfNN98paS64%2FeLoSTAHnO%2FfFcKNNF6nYboo7pB3IS4MeWxGBN8GAIlfnfCCx%2B9I3skA%3D%3D&type=link">Click here to proceed</a>. </body>