What does your process look like?
None really. When ready. Write. When not, don’t. If being ready stops
happening daily then I will just quit. What feels right at the time is
what I do. I don’t get people who claim writing is so “difficult”. If
it’s that much of a torment, just give up. Life is too short. Working
in a hot tar factory twelve hours/day in China or whatever for a
dollar a day when it’s a hundred degrees in the shade, with no way
out—that kind of thing to me, is the kind of thing that’s hard.
That’s curious, I am always wondering about other authors creative
process, like if they keep color coded journals, or like a friend of
mine does, writing with seven different emails all with different
names and personalities..
I particularly loved the opening of Understanding Franklin Thompson,
(Jef books) where the house is speaking to us. I am excited to finish
no, with me, whenever I have come up with this or that clever
analytical way of constructing a piece, the result has been mediocre.
I went through a period of trying that. But let it go when the results
were no good. I used to use Polti’s “The Thirty-Six Dramatic
Situations” as triggers to start off a new story. It worked for a
while but I think that habit just sort of fell away.
Fin: I am the same way, when it comes to structuring a story first and then beginning to write it, I get bored, because I already know what's going to occur. I usually just speak it out while im typing. People think im insane in my neighborhood. Oh, well.
Who's an author you think everyone should read?
Beckett, snatches of Joyce. Faulkner—like Sound and Fury or As I Lay
Dying. These cover lots of varied techniques. Also some of the
critical works analyzing classics like Ulysses or Finnegans Wake or
Beckett’s work and others like that. I like Gogol and Kafka too (both
hilarious). Also artist writer/mystics like William Blake and
Gurdjieff. The Bible pops also. Both testaments. Might seem odd, but
true. As for what “reading” means though – it should be fun and go
down smooth. There’s no point or glory in forcing yourself through
something like “Ulysses” though—just to be able to brag about it. I
had a near-breakdown after doing that to myself years back. It would
have made more sense to read snatches, helped along by some good
reference books or critical analyses. Don’t read hard stuff just
‘cause they say you “should”. Life is too short to embrace something
that feels like a chore when there’s a choice. Like physical exercise
- if it hurts or is hellish in some way, then—don’t do it. It will do
you damage and for no payback. If a person truly loves lit and desires
to read, they will find the right books for them. Books that will both
be fun and provide benefit. People who don’t like to read or need to
constantly be told what to read, well—they probably don’t have the
innate hunger it takes to absorb enough to become a good writer with a
style of their own. Perhaps they should think about doing something
else. To say you must read this or that beyond a few classic works is
probably not a good idea because every person is different. For
example, you’d probably never think from what I do now that for a
couple of decades I read nothing but SF and Horror novels. I only quit
that because I had read everything the bookstores I went to had on the
shelves in those genres! This was before the internet, don’t forget.
The rise of that and related tech has caused too many people to pursue
writing today, and mostly for completely wrong reasons having nothing
to do with achieving their creative potential. But that’s another
topic. ‘nuff said.
I agree with that. People have flooded the creative writing world, its an ocean of millions of disconnected voices sometimes. I like thinking of it as a conversation though. From author to author. Like one larger story.
But, side note: I was reading somewhere that James Joyce, while composing
Finnegan’s wake, would nap all of the time, he would wake up, compose
a line or a whole sentence or a complete chapter, then doze off again,
then wake up and do it all over again. His daughter, I’ve read,
suffered from some form of schizophrenia, so her voice, and her
visions and her delusions must have been heavy in their house. James
Joyce was also close to blindness, so this schizophrenia must have
felt even louder than usual, I imagine. It may have influenced a bit
of a break down in him. I wonder about that.
I think it’s really bad ass that you've been doing this as long
as you have, and it seems, finding great success doing it.
Got any advice for young, innovative writers who don't have thick skin?
Using the term “great success” is a bit of a stretch in describing
where I’m at—but anyway, thanks. And here’s the advice. Grow thick
skin. Suffering is inevitable. Part of the game. Keep at it, don’t
quit. Don’t always be nice, and don’t try and please everyone. In
time, after you’ve been knocked around a decade or two, something in
you will stop giving a shit if anybody likes your work or even cares
you’re doing it. Right now, the rejection letters I get that are the
most annoying are those who add, “but, you know, we are writers too.
Keep trying—” like a little pat on the head to some little boy. What
shit. Crap. I gagged while typing that. They don’t care. And hoping
someone like that will care will end up paralyzing your creativity. I
actually prefer hearing back nothing. At least that behavior is
honest. The tension that will fall away when you finally don’t care
anymore who likes your work, will rocket you forward in ability.
Giving too much of a shit that people should love your writing (or you
because you’re doing it which is even worse) is just a ball and chain.
But shedding that crap is much easier said than done. We’re talking
lots of years and lots of pain to leave that “kiddie pool” behind. And
it gets really lonely for the writer in your head (who is not you by
the way—heh). But don’t give up ever! Freedom in the work will come. I
remember with me. I suddenly became aware that for some reason I
didn’t get, it all started to flow and took off! The reward of being a
Fin: I guess I just feel like anytime a piece of innovative or experimental work is selected for book publication, let alone any publication whatsoever it is a success in my mind, because it seems that most people I encounter have absolutely no taste or clue as to what is possible in writing and have great disdain, it seems, for experimental or Innovative work.
I agree that hearing nothing is better then rejection letter now a days. In the beginning when
I reluctantly, or in high spirits, began submitting, I wanted to know
how the process worked, so hearing back was good, although it was
always bad news since I really didn't care about how it read, I didn't care who was reading it, if they were colleges or small presses or random house. I think this is why I'm drawn to your work. Because you are making it how you want to, and it is free to explore, a lot of books I've read don't tend to allow this, and it's inspiring to see someone doing this as a contemporary author.
Your website Jimmeroise.com
has a comment on your work from Irvine welsh. What is your take on his
work? Would you place your own writing in something of a similar
category as his?
What's your take on Gertrude Stein’s work? Did her particular syntax
and composition influence your sometimes repetitive style?
Hey. Seven books sounds like a lot. But seven books nobody buys and
nobody reads, well—I don’t call that success. But to your question.
Irvine Welsh does good work. I don’t think we write similarly though.
Don’t know much about Ms. Stein actually. Only thing on her that
sticks with me is she claimed she suffered from an “excess of
consciousness”. That is something I think I can relate to. When I got
to where my prose flowed easily, it began feeling like dancing or
improvising a solo on guitar or whatever and when that happens, all
this wild stuttery shit, make believe words, and wacky time and space
jumping etc. comes popping out of my head from a feeling of pure joy.
Hard to explain. It comes so fast and hard it’s difficult to keep up
with typing it in. Sometimes it’s like, ah this sounds/feels so cool,
it’s got to be good! Hang on, hang on—ride it where it goes! And I
keep it because I like it. Being in the zone I suppose is the term.
Very big rush. Much better than any drug. It’s to where if I sit down
to write and that state does not come, I quit for the day. What comes
out in the “normal” state of plodding and forcing out every word, is
usually wooden-sounding baloney, most of which ends up tossed. But
being able to enter the zone at will doesn’t happen overnight. When
starting, your work is going to be wooden and shitty for quite some
time. Years and years actually. Crazy and fun will start coming over
you later if you don’t quit and keep at it. This might sound very
negative and even damaging as advice for beginners, but I believe in
telling the truth.
I love that you use the analogy of ripping solo guitar to how you write, I can picture that in my mind
I think it's interesting that you say that it's important to tell the truth.
I guess they say the best fiction makes you believe the lie, or
whatever. I’m always hearing things about fiction being this or that
way, I think it's a form where whatever I want it to do, I try, and
however much interest I have in it, as the author is how much I
usually get back from other people. But you always hear quotes and
things about it. What made you want to begin writing?
I separate the two; the fiction is indeed in many ways a well-told
lie. Creating it is in many ways an exercise in “getting over”. But in
real life, when you haven’t got the writer machine switched on, total
honesty is the best policy. But on the actual question; I am not sure
exactly how I began. I always seemed to have some innate verbal
talent. I could read fluently as a very small child. I once copied out
the entire Constitution (amendments and all) in longhand as a grammar
school boy, just for the hell of it. Quite the nerd actually. I
remember vividly daydreaming stuff like, “What would I do if someone
said sit down and write down everything you know? How could I do
that?” And I always used to play with writing little things that I
showed to my friends but I never thought of it as “writing”. When
school ended, I pushed to become somewhat successful in the world of
work just as my parents had taught me to, and off and on would putter
with writing on the side, just for fun. But being a normal working
stiff took priority. Then one day when I was between “real” jobs and
frustrated, I actually did one of those pro/con analyses when thinking
about what to do with my life, and it popped I was good with words and
liked writing stuff. So, it made sense to do it more seriously. And
little by little it took up more time and I started taking classes on
it and submitting etc., and many years passed and here I am. But I
still feel like a beginner. I think you stop feeling like a beginner
then you’re too full of yourself and turn into a jackass and start
hanging out with “writers” and, sorry, I’ll stop there. I think you
get where I’m going with that one.
What keeps you going in down periods where nothing much is going on
and no one’s interested, do you gather a lot of rejections? How do you
Asked and answered! (see above!) Having fun creating this stuff is
what keeps me going. I know from experience the dry period will pass.
That I am interested and have fun in the doing, well—there’s no one
else in my head but me, and in the long run, that’s enough.
What is your ideal book, when reading. Also what's your ideal book
My ideal book when reading is whatever buzzes me at the moment. It
flows from one to the other as time rolls on. The ideal book when
composing is the one I’m composing. I actually don’t read much fiction
other than my own anymore. Sometimes now I get asked to write a review
of this or that, and I apply total diligence to that. I read
nonfiction about all kinds of things, some writing related, some not.
I know this answer is sort of vague, but not on purpose. It’s just
true. I am really not that interested in writing that I haven’t
written myself any more.
So what is the point of it, if I am the only one who reads me and you
are the only one who reads you. I have noticed this a lot with other
writers and myself included, that I don't want to spend much time with
your work, but I WANT YOU to read and enjoy mine. It feels selfish,
and lackluster, and maybe I’m in the wrong field. But I have had other
poets tell me that is “Just how it is” and I am the kind of individual
who wants to get as far away as I can from something that just stays
the same, and cannot change because it’s just that way. It is the
whole reason I got into this shit in the first place.
Selfish I think is too harsh a term. It looks like what you describe
is the nature of the beast. (the writer) It is just possible that
here’s what’s happening; to get to the core of your full potential, so
much energy needs to be summoned up and concentrated to enable the
creation, and to do the related crap like submit and organize and plan
and etc., that the rest of the time you need to relax and recharge.
For me at least it’s not a case of “not wanting” to read the work of
others. It’s a case of not having the energy to read something deep or
meaningful and give it the attention it deserves. God bless them, all
honest work should be read all over. But when I’m not creating, my
head asks me to give it a rest. Maybe that’s selfish.
What do you think the point of writing is?
There’s probably no answer. What’s the point of walking the dog? Or
going to a movie? Making babies? Or even of getting up every morning?
The point’s probably to keep on going to get somewhere. Maybe it’s
just kind of like acquiring a bad habit. I accept that for some
reason, we aren’t equipped to know the goal until we’re there. That’s