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Monday, 2 November 2020




The Pivot Questionnaire comprises 10 questions. I have seen it used on the television show Inside The Actor's Studio, presented by James Lipton. Apparently Proust was the original inspiration. The modern questions originated on a French TV show called Bouillon de Culture, hosted by Bernard Pivot. I have expanded the questions to 12, and left room at the end for encouraging words.

This run of A Dozen Questions is by invitation only - 12 writers (of many) I admire.

Damien Donnelly, 45, Dublin born, returned to Ireland in 2019 after 23 years in Paris, London and Amsterdam, working in the fashion industry. His writing focuses on identity, sexuality and fragility. His daily interests revolve around falling over and learning how to get back up while baking cakes.
His short stories have been featured in Second Chance/Original Writing, Body Horror/Gehenna & Hinnom, A Page from My Life/Harper Collins & poetry in Eyewear, The Runt, Black Bough, Coffin Bell, Scribe Base, Barren Magazine, Impspired, Fahmidan Journal and NeuroLogical Magazine. His debut poetry collection Eat the Storms was published by The Hedgehog Press. He hosts the weekly poetry podcast Eat The Storms. He is working on his second collection which will be a poetic/photographic diary of living with Paris.
Links to Damien's work:







Eat The Storms

Damien Donnelly's Dozen Answers, 

and some encouraging words in conclusion.


Q: What is your favourite word? 

A: No, I only learned recently that a No for you is a Yes for me; when I say No to people asking me to do things for them, it gives me more time to focus on my needs which no one is looking after, therefore a No to you is a Yes to me. It sounds selfish but I have spent many hours and days and years living with selfish. Believe me, this is just self-preservation of the highest order.

Q: What is your least favourite word?


A: No! I know! I am complicated. I have a ‘love me’ issue and want to be liked and loved, maybe the childhood bullying brought it on, maybe it’s a trait from being adopted, maybe it was from watching too many horror films as a child where the less loved ones always got killed first, along with anyone who had sex, but I hate saying No to anyone because saying Yes means more people will be happy with me and therefore grow to like me and maybe even, one day, love me, so No is also my least favourite word. This is clearly something I need to work on.

Q: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? 

A: Visual stimuli; colour, texture, nature and its position next to architecture, scents that transcend time that take me back to kitchens, couple, kisses, beds where I left wishes and lost holds, music that lifts me out of the humdrum so quickly that I have to look down to see how far my feet had lifted off the ground

Q: What turns you off? 

A: Bad smells, I don’t need to be reminded of how we are already rotting on a daily basis. Bad smells make me want to investigate and the findings are never something to get excited about.

Q: What is your favourite song? 

A: When I was younger everyone asked me to sing The Rose which eventually ruined the song for me, now I sing Jolene by Ray LaMontagne all the time and Tom Waits’ Martha and her poetry and prose. Sometimes to chill I play Solitaire while listening to the Clouds album from Joni Mitchell and especially The Gallery song which brings me back to coming home from work at about 1 in the morning in Paris, in Le Marais, in a time that was all gallery shows and I had no idea of what lay on the other side of the clouds. 

Q: What is your favourite film? 

A: Trois Couleur: Bleu by Krzysztof Kieślowski because it was the first time I realised I was destined to go live in Paris and be openly miserable and lonely and enriched and identified and smoke and despise it all at the same time.

Q: What is your favourite curse word?

A:  Fuck because it holds such a wealth of possibilities, the sound the f makes when the upper teeth have to almost bite into the lower lip to construct it, the force at which you can fling it across the floor, the satisfaction it holds when its flung upon a bed. The fact that it can be lipread so easily that it doesn’t even require the accompanying sound. 

Q: What sound or noise do you love? 

A: The washing machine on a full spin cycle, it puts me to sleep and has done since I was a child when I used to ask my mother to do the washing at night so I would fall asleep to it. Sometimes the sound of the hoover too, less easy to drift off though if I am the one doing the hoovering. 

Q: What sound or noise do you hate? 

A: The latest sound is traffic when I am trying to record the podcast, it’s so repetitive but not regular so the rhythm is not cooperative, not even syncopated, it comes often like a gun shot, out of the blue, flooded by a stream of repetitions and then nothing and you find yourself just losing time while waiting for its return instead of making use of its absence. It used to be my neighbour having sex in Paris. They did it every evening when he got home and I was never sure that he knew exactly what it was that he was doing. I was worried for her. Finally, I hate the sound of other people eating. It’s not Misophonia but it’s pretty close.

Q: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 

A: A jazz singer in a smoky bar in Montmartre or a Strictly Come Dancing professional Dancer, after I had been trained, of course and people’s ears had been blocked for the singing! 

Q: What profession would you not like to do? 

A: Anything to do with heights, rollercoasters, or deep-sea diving or any kind of team sport. 

Q: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? 

A: You did such a lovely job that I’ve decided to send you back down to do it all again, but this time with your old notes so that you don't end up in the same beds and basements again that you had to work so hard to get out of and this time you will not know how good it is to say Yes but you will achieve a congratulatory orgasm every time you say no.

Q: Any words of encouragement for writers and writing?

A: Write, write and then write again until you tap into the fountain of inspiration, whether that means morning pages or just doodling on blank pages or jotting ideas onto iPhone. Listen to your own voice, don’t worry what marvellous gems others are writing, you are too close to your own voice to ever really see how it shines from a distance.


Thank you Damien for your dozen answers 

and words of encouragement. 


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