OCA Magazine: Tell us about yourself and your work.
Elena Smirnova: I am a writer and an editor. My first book was titled Over a Cup of Hot Tea and was published in 2019. I wrote it almost accidentally and ended up winning the We Grew up in Russia writing contest.
I have been doing editing for a decade. It is what I am trained to do, and it is also my vocation. I like working with authors and journalists. I help them express themselves on paper, making their ideas clear not only to themselves but also their readers. I try to be most attentive and treat their work with delicacy. And I always read their final drafts with great pleasure.
At the moment I am working on a project called WriteCreate, which helps authors learn simple techniques for finding ideas and inspiration. I organize writing challenges and teach classes and I am working on my second book about it.
OCA: What is “Eurasianism” for you?
ES: I would define it as meeting new people of different personalities, from different countries and of very different mindsets and having the opportunity to work with them. I like how we are all united by creativity, though we speak and write in different languages. But what brings us together is our love for creating.
OCA: Who are your favourite artists?
ES:: I get inspired by many things. My ideas come from movies, theatre, and visual art, as well as literature. I sometimes read a review on how a film director works, and that inspires me to use a literary technique of some sort. All of it is art, and writers are not the only ones you can learn from.
OCA: Have you taken part in the events of the Eurasian Creative Guild (London)?
ES:: I often go to different writing events in Moscow, I love them with all my heart. At one of them, I had the chance to present my book, thanks to Marat Akhmedjanov. In November 2019 I took part in the Open Eurasian Literary Festival and Book Forum in Brussels and it was great.
OCA: What does the Eurasian Creative Guild mean to you, and how has it affected your creativity?
ES: Thanks to the Guild, I started speaking publicly more often and reading my stories to others. Though it always seemed impossibly challenging to hold the listeners’ attention for a whole five minutes or more, I have learned to do it. I like being listened to in complete silence. It gives me goosebumps every single time.
The Guild has helped me unlock my potential and meet so many creative people from around the globe. It’s amazing how writers, playwrights, artists, and poets are brought together by it. I am grateful for this opportunity and this experience.
OCA: Do you have any personal projects that you would like to talk about?
ES: My project is called WriteCreate and it is a network of creative authors. I help people learn to love writing books, defend their rights and promote their work. I also help those who write short stories and want to get better at it. I speak about popular genres, the basics of playwriting, give advice on how to participate in contests. Our first book of stories submitted by participants of the WriteCreate project is to come out this summer. It will be titled Where to Begin? Writers’ Stories.
Another thing I do is organize creativity challenges for Instagram users. They usually last several days. One technique I came up with is called “The Happy Milkman” and the idea is to combine emotion and an object. For example, the words “happiness” and “brick” would start a story about building a big family house, while “sadness” and “doctor” would probably make a story about a terminally ill patient. People come up with new ideas and their stories get more interesting each time. Why don’t you try!
OCA: What projects have you participated in and in what do you plan to participate in?
ES: I would love to participate in another Open Eurasia contest and maybe give other creative competitions a try. Last year I made the finals of the Short Prose contest and this year I hope to win. It’s good to have a dream once in a while, right? I like finding new ideas and putting them into practice. The past couple of months have had me thinking of completing a course in screenwriting and maybe mastering this genre.
OCA: What would you say to the members of the Guild who are just starting their career?
ES: I would suggest being proactive. To publish more, participate in competitions, use social networks to promote yourself and your work. If you try, you are bound to succeed.