Ceridwen Dovey is a South African born novelist who now lives in New York. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Harvard in 2003, Dovey returned to South Africa to write a novel. Blood Kin, the result of that work, was published in 2007 to critical acclaim: the novel was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Informed by Dovey's South African roots, the novel tells the story of a fictional military coup from the perspective of the overthrown leader's portraitist, chef, and barber. Dovey is currently completing a PhD in Anthropology at New York University. Dovey doesn't see a conflict between her two passions. "Both anthropology and good fiction are full of thick description and a layering of detail," she says.
Question: How do you get past writer’s block?
Dovey: I just leave it for a while. So I often actually find it’s pretty predictable if I’m writing regularly, every fourth day I hit a wall. And it just really . . . There’s nothing I can do. I just have to leave it for a couple of days and then crawl back to it after that. And then it doesn’t seem as bad as you thought it was. And the same thing starts again. And then day four you hit a wall and you think you should jump off the roof and go back to it. And then there’s months sometimes I just leave it and don’t do anything. So I guess my approach is to kind of be kind to myself and listen to that feeling. There must be something going on that’s, you know . . . that’s necessary to be worked out at a sort of subconscious level.
Recorded on: 12/6/07