Madeleine Dore, Freelance Writer & Interviewer

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What a treat to turn the tables and hear from the lady herself! Madeleine is our favourite interviewer and routine queen - she delves into the lives of creatives to bring some clarity and inspiration to ours. And her responses here are no less amazing, thanks Madeleine! 

What do you do?

I’m a freelance writer and founder of the interview project Extraordinary Routines.

Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?

My maxim for life and work is always in flux – be it informed by someone I’ve interviewed or a quote I’ve seen on Instagram!

I actually keep an excel spreadsheet of sentiments that resonate, but I think Meryl Streep said it best – “I’m curious about people... I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” Through my work, I want to explore how to live through examining others and continually experiment on my own.

What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?

+ Being fired from a position as a gallery assistant – it’s a very humorous story, but I was essentially fired by a ghost – the owner’s then-deceased mother! At the time I thought I wanted to focus on arts administration and was devastated, but being fired led me back to writing and interviewing.

+ Starting Extraordinary Routines as a side project in 2014. This eventually led to my role as deputy editor at ArtsHub, a monthly column on The Design Files, freelance editorial and corporate gigs, new friends and collaborators, and the opportunity to speak to very inspiring individuals.

+ Quitting my ‘dream job’ at ArtsHub to pursue freelance writing – I’ve been able to work with really interesting clients and write for print and online, as well as live in NYC for three months.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’m currently juggling clients, freelance editorial and updating Extraordinary Routines with interviews, articles and life experiments.

At the moment, I’m amidst a month-long no social life experiment! It’s based on a story by David Sedaris that refers to our lives as being like stovetop burners. One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work.

The gist is that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two. It’s something I’ve seen in my interviews – many creatives say they can work so hard because they don’t have a social life, or don’t look after their health. I wanted to put this to the test and what would happen to my work if I cut out my social life – would I work more? Find more clarity? Become a complete hermit?

I’m also working and reworking a book proposal, which I’m excited about.

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What is your dream project?

I’ve recently enjoyed interviewing several creatives on a topic – be it freelancing or burnout – and learning from a diversity of experiences.

It would be a dream to take that a step further and do bulk interviews with the public – prop myself in a public space and interview strangers about anything from their morning routines, to when they feel most alone.

What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?

I recently re-read the Encyclopaedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal who sadly passed away earlier this year – it’s a memoir of sorts with many gems that act as an inventory for a meaningful life. This passage in particularly has stuck with me:

RETURNING TO LIFE AFTER BEING DEAD.

When I am feeling dreary, annoyed, and generally unimpressed by life, I imagine what it would be like to come back to this world for just a day after having been dead. I imagine how sentimental I would feel about the very things I once found stupid, hateful, or mundane. Oh, there’s a light switch! I haven’t seen a light switch in so long! I didn’t realize how much I missed light switches! Oh! Oh! And look — the stairs up to our front porch are still completely cracked! Hello cracks! Let me get a good look at you. And there’s my neighbor, standing there, fantastically alive, just the same, still punctuating her sentences with you know what I’m saying? Why did that bother me? It’s so… endearing.

What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?

Accessibility. With unpaid work and internships being the common ‘training ground’ for creative careers, combined with the precarious compensation once you enter the industry, it’s so often a privilege to be a creative. Imagine how much untapped talent exists, because the appropriate channels and opportunities don’t exist, or it was never considered a viable option, or they burnt out trying? It would be amazing to see an apprenticeship-like model for creative careers, where you are compensated for your learning. Accessible online and offline communities like Make-Nice and CreativeMornings are also doing a great job of expanding the awareness of creative career paths and how to pursue them, which is great to see.

What do you want to be asked about that no one ever asks you?

How to deal with rejection – be from pitching freelance work and jobs, to conducting a blind dating experiment, I’ve had my fair share of rejection and in many ways, often seek it out.

I’ve learned that rejection isn’t personal, and when you truly believe that and recognise there are so many factors that determine your success with something or someone, you can pick yourself up, learn from it, and move on to bigger and better things simply by extending your comfort zone. It’s helped me to stop ruminating on failures or consider myself a failure overall because one thing didn’t work out. There are plenty more fish in the sea – in life, work, and dating!

 

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What places are important to you?

I really enjoy being on balconies, verandas and rooftops – maybe it’s the wine I tend to drink on them that’s talking, but they also tend to be very quiet and watchful places, where you’re free to just view the world without it viewing you. The best conversations tend to happen on a stepback from the street on someone’s veranda or when you sneak up to the rooftop.

What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?

You don’t have to believe your own thoughts.

Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?

Often if it weren’t for the women in my life – my mum, friends and some incredible older women who have generously shared what they know – I don’t know how I would ever get an idea out of my head and into the world. At times when the inner-critic has a stronghold, the reassuring words of encouragement or advice from women in particular can be what sets your mind free.

It’s important to remember your supportive network can sometimes just be one person. I think it’s exciting to meet new people, but simultaneously I don’t think we need to feed into the idea of knowing everyone and anyone to feel like we have a support base.

Can you share a creative experience that you have found defining?

A few years ago I remember watching Miranda July’s School of Life talk on Strangers. It was so moving to be reminded of how interconnected our lives are and how extraordinary the ordinary and everyday can be.

Fast forward five years and I saw Miranda July speak when she was in Melbourne and her words stuck in my mind: she explained how she continues to forget and remember, forget and remember, forget and remember that she is free. Soon after, I ended up quitting my job at ArtsHub to see what it would be like to be free – or freelance!

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What’s something surprising about you, that we might not know?

This question had me spinning into an existential crisis – what is surprising about me? Is everyone and everything more surprising? So maybe how easily I spin into an existential crisis!

How can we find our more about your work?

Extraordinary Routines

Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

Who would you most like to answer these questions next?  

Santilla Chingaipe