Best of 2020 Q&A: Vicky Mochama

Vicky Mochama appears on our Best of 2020 list for the piece “Black Communities Have Known about Mutual Aid All Along.” You can read it at The Walrus.

GCL invited writers on the list to answer a questionnaire to give us further insight into their work. The following are Vicky’s answers:

How did you start working on this story?

I have wanted to write about mutual aid and money pools for a long time. I’ve been talking to Caroline Hossein, the York University professor who has spent a long time studying informal economies and women running them, for years now and looking for a way to tell this story. But the inspiration to really resurface this history and practice came about during the pandemic when I started hearing more about different forms of mutual aid, especially the idea of them as a novel strategy. I pitched it to The Walrus and the lovely and very patient Hamutal Dotan said yes.

How long did it take to write this piece?

It took around three months from pitch to getting page proofs.

What was the most challenging part of writing it?

Writing it.

Do you have a particular writing ritual you follow?

I print every version of the piece and do rewrites by hand.

What did you find different about writing during a global pandemic?

I write as often as I can about Black people and Black communities; many of the conditions highlighted by the pandemic already existed for Black folks. A key point of the piece is, in fact, that Black people have been in a state of emergency for ages so many of the solutions people turned to were ones that had already been embedded in our communities. If anything, everyone I wanted to speak to was busier than ever.

What sort of reaction has your piece received from readers?

I’ve really loved hearing from people who are not Black about how mutual aid looks and has historically worked for their communities.

For any fellow non-fiction writers reading this, do you have a favourite writing tip to share?

I’m still learning so much myself that any tips I have to offer would be ones I haven’t tried.

What writing projects are you working on currently?

Grand apologies for emails that I haven’t responded to.

Find Vicky on Twitter: @vmochama

This Q&A may have been edited for clarity and length.

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