I’ve now finished two weeks of my internship, but I feel like I’ve been working on my project for a long time already. As part of my project, I’m planning to go to Morocco to interview several writers about their relationship with language, and why they have chosen to write in French rather than Arabic. I decided to try and line up my interviews before my project started, so I started working on this during Spring break. It’s definitely been a lot more challenging than I anticipated and I’ve learnt some lessons in the process!
Firstly, actually tracking down the authors has been a lot more difficult than I had expected. I had planned to simply find their webpage and send them an email, but I soon discovered that isn’t how things work in Morocco! A lot of the writers I wanted to interview aren’t particularly well known internationally, so finding any information about them at all online was a challenge. In most cases, after a lot of digging, all I managed to find was the name of their publisher. Next began a seemingly endless trail. Countless emails to various publishers, the British Council in four countries, the Institut Française, the National Library in Morocco, emails to conference organisers and a letter to New York later, but I felt like I was getting nowhere. Data protection became my nemesis.
The second lesson I learnt was that although in my opinion, my project is fascinating, the prospect of being interviewed by an undergraduate was perhaps not so appealing to the ‘big shot’ writers, who frequently get invited to talk on Moroccan TV and at international conferences. I had possibly set my sights too high, and started to contact some slightly lesser known writers, with a lot more success. I was gutted to not receive a reply to any of my emails by the writer I most wanted to interview, and who I had hinged a lot of my project on. On the other hand, this led me to do a lot more reading into Moroccan literature, rather than focusing only on the most well-known writers, and I’ve discovered some amazing novels along the way.
I’m looking forward to my interviews with a mixture of nerves and excitement, mostly nerves at the prospect of conducting an interview in French for the first time, but I can’t wait to finally meet the writers behind the novels I’ve been reading over the past few months.