the prizes for blood donors seem so weird and desperate. the last time i went the sign our front said
stuffed puppies and hot dogs for all donors 9-3
something about the combination of stuffed puppies and hotdogs broke my heart, especially in exchange for a pint of blood
some feelings i started having this morning (on writing and work)
i haven’t written a poem in months or maybe years and i’m skipping an art show i was invited to be in to go to a vigil at a methodist church for a kid i don’t know killed in a city i’ve never been to.
"my interests as a writer right now are very focused on what it means to be human in the present day, how we cope with constant tragedy and fear while also finding moments of joy and ridiculous wonder."
gina, on writing, on the blog tour today
Kristen Stone tagged me last week…
1. What are you working on?
I am collaborating with Kristen Stone on a project! Hush-hush. Also working on a new short story that is a departure for me in sincerely working with scifi conventions. Currently have two warring novel projects and will soon decide which one to focus my energies on after I finish up my main summer project, which is editing the next volume of The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing. Proofs going out to contributors this week! (fingers crossed)
2. How does your work differ from others’ in the same genre?
Tough question, not entirely applicable to my work, as I’m more of a genre floater than a resident of any genre community. Uhhhh. I guess in the genre of “innovative fiction” I use form to tackle queer and feminist issues, that is, using form to interrogate power and agency from a queer/feminist perspective. And in the genre of “LGBT lit” my fiction is less about LGBTQ representation and more about enacting queerness through form, language, intensity.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I typically use fiction as a way to work through competing and seemingly contradictory ideas, things I’m personally or intellectually struggling with. To be real, I also write to express ugly feelings in ways that make me feel like interesting and likable. Third and most righteously, I write to put new narratives into the world, flipping scripts and exploring experiences and relationships and identities that don’t get much play in literary fiction.
4. How does your writing process work?
I make lists and am a diligent reviser. Well, let me back up. I start a story by putting words on a page, and if a voice comes, then I’m off. Sometimes I can incorporate whatever ideas I’ve been thinking about into the voice, sometimes I let the voice (via syntax) take me away — “Swamp Cycle” was like that. Sometimes I start with concept, not voice, and then it’s harder to break into the story, but - WORTH THE WAIT! The Sweet Valley CYOA was like that — I was excited by the idea of mashing together these two oppositionally gendered YA genres but for numerous drafts couldn’t settle on a voice or tone — tried satire for a while, but really, SVT doesn’t need to be satired! It was much more fun to play it straight, and let the comedy come from the CYOA.
Throughout this process I maintain an ongoing, subject-to-change action plan that helps me feel less overwhelmed and incapacitated if the writing isn’t necessarily easy. This often includes a reading list — mostly made up of relevant theory and criticism to bolster my thinking about the piece, sometimes other fiction that might provide structural models. I also create a document for journaling about the story and my aims with it. So for each in-process piece I will have a few different different files going as I’m writing and revising. If/when I get to this point I create a new file folder for the piece, a very exciting stage! that solidifies the story’s status as in-progress/coming-together (as opposed to germ/brainstorm). And then with each substantial revision, usually involving printing out and revising, reconceiving by hand, I rename the file so I have a record of the work I’ve done and can revert to older versions if I find myself going way off track. Those are the mundane details. I find it’s best for me to spend an hour or two on a story per day and work over time, until I can devote some full days to it — poke, poke, binge.
I’ve been working on this*, alone and quiet, all day, and I am seeking some validation (someone see my lonely work!) working-student-who-is-also-a-writer life has been getting me down a little. Just— the compression of time. I wrote about this, in rosier terms, for the blog tour. It is hard. It is hard to think, sometimes, I should have been/should be just a writer. But that’s not my path, I have always felt the overlap and tension of different pieces more so than a single identity, so here I am taking personal days* to do homework and then spending my saturday editing a manuscript 3 years in the works.
*full disclosure I have also been working on a presentation entitled ‘Creative Housing Solutions for Domestic Violence Survivors’
*full disclosure on my personal day I also got a massage and took a nap.
Tamryn Spruill tagged me last week…
1. what are you working on?
I’ve recently had some crossover from the social work notebook to the subterranean (SEE: key for genogram with names obscured, above), every morning at seven notebook. a family autobiography (defined roughly, defined barely)— the things i’ve built in the gaps and glitches of my dead grandma’s story; the ghosts in the china cabinet, the girl who went away. this is: “fiction.”
I’ve been working on this project for three years, since I graduated from Goddard in 2011: a thing about the girl in the family, about how sex develops and what we don’t learn in the home, about what dies with one person, about how we love those who we fear will kill themselves. and grammar, it’s about grammar too, what it means to say “I,” what it means to say “she” or “the girl” or (my favorite) “we.” It’s a lyric novel, which means there’s clinical language and lists and dreams and obnoxious asides.
2. how does your work differ from others’ in the same genre?
It’s not as good. It’s not as good as the people I love who are writing weird ass amazing shit that is is and is not sentences, OR, that are sentences that hurt your throat. Rebecca Brown, Bhanu Kapil, Douglas Martin, Megan Milks, Renee Gladman. These are some prose writers that I love, that I look up to.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I’m still trying to figure this out. I hate all those glib explanations of why a person writes hybrid or experimental work, a pretentious claim that “genre is really limiting and I can’t really define my work” or whatever. I can define my work: I write about family and shame and privacy and sex and gender, which is not the same as being Into Gender in a gender studies way, which I am decidedly not, i could never figure out how to be cool enough, to get into that club, to be enough one thing or another. I write about weird girls and women and being a weird woman. I write these things because I am and am not a fiction, because there are many things that did and did not happen to me, there are many unremembered things and unknown things and things that can’t be known or gone back to. I write about longing.The things in dreams that have to have come from somewhere. It’s about God, I write about God.
4. how does your writing process work?
Practically, I rise three hours before I need to leave my house each morning. I prepare coffee and write, longhand, in a graph paper notebook. On a good morning I might write three or four pages of my novel. On a bad morning I write about a stupid dream and how I wish I made more money and something I’m resentful about the day before or whatever. Because I have a non-writing job that is rather demanding, my writing is (must be) compartmentalized. I don’t usually pick up where I left off, I start a new section, chapter or anecdote the next morning. It’s necessarily fragmented, both because of my time constraints and because I don’t, actually, know how to write a novel or narrative arc. Once a week or so I type all the bits into an OpenOffice document. Every few weeks I print out the new pages and leave them on my desk in a pile, cut apart where the page breaks ought to be. I probably ought to re-read them and edit them, but I haven’t yet.
Now I tag…